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Philadelphia abuse trial has taken toll on very Catholic city
Monsignor William Lynn is the highest-ranking cleric accused of imperiling children by helping cover up sexual abuse.
June 22nd, 2012
03:18 PM ET

Philadelphia abuse trial has taken toll on very Catholic city

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) - A Philadelphia sex abuse trial in which a jury reached a mixed verdict on a church higher-up accused of protecting sexually abusive priests was closely watched for its national implications.

Monsignor William Lynn was convicted of one count of child endangerment on Friday, and victims groups hope that conviction will pave the way for prosecutors across the country to go after church officials - and not just accused priests - in confronting sex abuse.

The three-month trial's more immediate effect, though, is the especially acute toll it has taken in Philadelphia, historically one of the nation’s most Catholic cities.

“The Philadelphia Catholic culture holds the priests in great esteem, and this has really destroyed that pristine image of the Philadelphia Catholic priest,” says Jim Martin, a Jesuit priest who was born and raised in Philadelphia.

CNN's Belief Blog: the faith angles behind the big stories

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- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Pennsylvania

No verdict in Philadelphia priest sex abuse trial, source says
Monsignor William Lynn faces accusations that he failed to keep priests accused of sexual abuse away from minors.
June 20th, 2012
02:40 PM ET

No verdict in Philadelphia priest sex abuse trial, source says

By the CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) - A Philadelphia jury was unable to reach a verdict Wednesday on four of five charges in a landmark priest sex abuse case, according to a source familiar with the proceeding.

There appear to be two holdouts, and the judge has ordered jurors to keep deliberating, the source said. It is not clear which charges could not be agreed upon.

Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina said the panel says it has developed "firm, fixed opinions" and "entrenched positions," rendering it unable to return a verdict after 12 days of deliberations.

Monsignor William Lynn is considered the first high-ranking church official to be charged in the three-month-long trial.

FULL STORY
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Pennsylvania • Sex abuse

Jury selection to begin in Philadelphia archdiocese scandal case
Left to right, from top: Edward Avery, James Brennan, Charles Engelhardt, William Lynn and Bernard Shero have been charged in Philadelphia in connection with sex abuse against minors.
February 21st, 2012
01:03 AM ET

Jury selection to begin in Philadelphia archdiocese scandal case

By The CNN Wire Staff

PHILADELPHIA (CNN) - Jury selection begins Tuesday in the Philadelphia Catholic Archdiocese trial, a case experts have called one of the most sweeping sex abuse scandals in America.

The Philadelphia scandal could open a historic chapter in the abuse crisis, church watchers say, changing the way the American criminal justice system deals with such alleged cases.

A grand jury last year charged four priests and a parochial school teacher with raping and assaulting boys in their care.

FULL POST

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Catholic Church • Pennsylvania • Sex abuse • United States

Cardinal in scandal-hit Philadelphia dies at 88
Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua died in his sleep, his former diocese is at the center of a major sex scandal.
February 1st, 2012
07:22 AM ET

Cardinal in scandal-hit Philadelphia dies at 88

By Sarah Hoye and Dan Gilgoff, CNN

Philadelphia's Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua has died at the age of 88, the city's Catholic archdiocese announced.

The announcement Tuesday comes as the archdiocese faces one of the most sweeping sex abuse scandals in America.

The allegations date from the time when Bevilacqua was archbishop. He was not himself accused of abuse, but one of his top officials has been charged with endangering the welfare of a child in a ground-breaking prosecution.

He gave testimony in November for the upcoming trial to ensure that his evidence would be considered despite his age and illness.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Crime • Pennsylvania • Sex abuse

My Take: Reactions to Cain, Paterno point to a not-so-Christian nation
Penn State students rally around a cut-out of football coach Joe Paterno after he was fired.
November 12th, 2011
05:00 AM ET

My Take: Reactions to Cain, Paterno point to a not-so-Christian nation

Editor's note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

In the never-ending debate over whether the United States is a Christian nation, recent events support the nay-sayers. I am referring to the troubles of Herman Cain and Joe Paterno.

How we respond to ethical conundrums often boils down to empathy. In the abortion debate, do you identify with the woman who wants an abortion or with the fetus? Concerning the federal deficit, do you identify with the wealthy person who might see his taxes rise or with the poor person who might see her unemployment benefits extended?

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- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Christianity • Herman Cain • Pennsylvania • Politics • Sexuality

April 15th, 2011
01:59 PM ET

5 plead not guilty in Philadelphia sex abuse cases

By Sarah Hoye, CNN

Philadelphia (CNN) - Four priests and a parochial school teacher pleaded not guilty Friday to sexual abuse and conspiracy charges.

Edward Avery and Charles Engelhardt were charged with allegedly assaulting a 10-year-old boy at St. Jerome Parish in Philadelphia from 1998 to 1999.

Bernard Shero, a teacher in the school, is charged with allegedly assaulting the same boy there in 2000. Avery was defrocked in 2006.

James Brennan, another priest, is accused of assaulting a different boy, a 14 year old, in 1996. Brennan did not appear in court Friday.

Monsignor William Lynn, who served as the Secretary for Clergy under former Philadelphia Archbishop Anthony Bevilacqua was charged with endangering the welfare of a child in connection with the alleged assaults.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Christianity • Church • Courts • Pennsylvania • Sex abuse • United States

March 1st, 2011
12:27 PM ET

West Virginia students protest 10 Commandments' removal

From CNN affiliate WVVA.

The Giles County School Board voted Tuesday to removed framed copies of the Ten Commandments from its schools - for the second time in as many months. Now some students are speaking out against the decision.

Some students have posted the Ten Commandments on their lockers. One group from Narrows and Giles have ordered t-shirts to express their opinions on the issue.

The commandments were first removed in December, 2010 after a complaint.

Read the full story about West Virginia students protesting the Ten Commandments' removal
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Homosexuality • Pennsylvania • United States

February 22nd, 2011
02:19 PM ET

DA in Philly priest case speaks out

Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams speaks with CNN's Kyra Phillips about the charges of a sex abuse cover up.

Read more about this case from CNN's Belief Blog here.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Christianity • Pennsylvania • Sex abuse • TV-CNN Newsroom • United States

February 20th, 2011
01:33 PM ET

Philly priest charged in scandal

CNN's Susan Candiotti examines charges against Monsignor William Lynn, a Philadelphia priest in a sex scandal.

Editor's NoteThe Archdiocese of Philadelphia released this statement on Sunday afternoon:

"Parishioners at Saint Joseph Parish in Downingtown were informed at Masses this weekend that Cardinal Justin Rigali has placed Monsignor William J. Lynn, Pastor, on administrative leave effective Friday, February 18, 2011."

Earlier the archdiocese had said Lynn was voluntarily taking time off to be with his family.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Bishops • Catholic Church • Christianity • Courts • Pennsylvania • Sex abuse • United States

Philadelphia cardinal orders investigation of 37 priests
Left to right, from top: Edward Avery, James Brennan, Charles Engelhardt, William Lynn and Bernard Shero were charged in connection with sex abuse against minors.
February 16th, 2011
04:57 PM ET

Philadelphia cardinal orders investigation of 37 priests

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (CNN) - The Catholic Church in Philadelphia will investigate as many as 37 priests identified in a grand jury report as remaining in "active ministry with credible allegations of child sexual abuse," Cardinal Justin Rigali, archbishop of Philadelphia, said Wednesday.

"Sexual abuse of children is a crime. It is always wrong and gravely evil," Rigali said in a news release. "The grand jury report makes clear that for as much as the archdiocese has done to address child sexual abuse, there is still much to do."

He also announced that three priests were placed on administrative leave pending a review.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Bishops • Catholic Church • Christianity • Courts • Pennsylvania • United States • Vatican

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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.

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