July 24th, 2012
11:04 AM ET
Editor's note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "The American Bible: How Our Words Unite, Divide, and Define a Nation," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.
By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN
(CNN) - As a resident of the most Catholic state in the nation (Massachusetts), I have watched for more than a decade as the Roman Catholic Church responded to charges of priestly pedophilia with a troubling combination of procrastination and obfuscation.
Far too often, Catholic priests, bishops and cardinals have identified not with abused children but with their “band of brothers,” their fellow priests.
June 20th, 2012
02:40 PM ET
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
June 4th, 2012
01:15 AM ET
By Sarah Hoye, CNN
Philadelphia (CNN) - Deliberations resume Monday in Philadelphia in the landmark trial of Monsignor William Lynn, the highest-ranking cleric charged with endangering children by allegedly helping cover up sexual abuse.
Lynn, a defendant with another Philadelphia priest, is accused of knowingly allowing dangerous priests to continue in the ministry in roles in which they had access to children.
Also on trial is the Rev. James Brennan, who is accused of the attempted rape of a 14-year-old. Both Brennan and Lynn have pleaded not guilty.
Closing arguments in the case concluded Thursday and jurors began their deliberations Friday.
May 31st, 2012
10:37 PM ET
By Sarah Hoye, CNN
Philadelphia (CNN) - Preposterous. Disgraceful. Shameful. Absurd. Ridiculous.
Those are words Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington used in court Thursday to describe the behavior of Monsignor William Lynn, the highest-ranking cleric to be charged with child endangerment in the landmark child sexual abuse and conspiracy trial in which he and another Philadelphia priest are defendants.
"He actually looked you in the eye and said he put victims first. How dare he?" Blessington asked jurors during his more than two-and-a-half-hour closing argument.
"The hero," Blessington yelled before turning to Lynn and pointing. "That's what you saw, our hero here, endanger kids."
May 23rd, 2012
10:27 PM ET
By Sarah Hoye, CNN
Philadelphia (CNN) - The highest-ranking cleric to be charged with child endangerment testified Wednesday in the landmark child sexual abuse and conspiracy trial in which he and another Philadelphia priest are defendants.
Dressed in clerical garb, Monsignor William Lynn took the stand inside the packed Common Pleas courtroom under the watchful eye of Judge Teresa Sarmina. He was calm, confident and very matter-of-fact during direct examination by one of his defense attorneys, Thomas Bergstrom.
"I felt I was helping priests and helping victims as best I could," Lynn told jurors, swiveling in the witness chair.
Lynn is accused of knowingly allowing dangerous priests to continue in the ministry in roles in which they had access to children. Also on trial is the Rev. James Brennan, who is accused of the attempted rape of a 14-year-old. Both Brennan and Lynn have pleaded not guilty.
Bergstrom and fellow defense counsel Jeff Lindy put their client, Lynn, on the stand at mid-morning.
April 29th, 2012
11:32 AM ET
An Irish priest at the center of a gay porn controversy has asked to leave his parish and take sabbatical leave from the priesthood, he said Sunday.
The Catholic Church in Ireland had launched an investigation after reports Father Martin McVeigh accidentally showed pictures of naked men to parents of children preparing for their First Holy Communion.
The incident happened at the start of a PowerPoint presentation at a grade school in Pomeroy, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland in March, said the leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland, Cardinal Sean Brady.
Parents said in a statement they were "horrified" by what they saw and called for action to be taken against the priest.
April 21st, 2012
08:00 AM ET
By Sarah Hoye, CNN
Philadelphia (CNN) - It's been four weeks since the beginning of the trial of the highest ranking U.S. Catholic Church leader charged with covering up the crimes of priests against children.
The main issue is not whether sex abuse occurred, as defense attorneys have pointed out, but how the Archdiocese of Philadelphia - Monsignor William Lynn in particular - handled the allegations against priests in the diocese.
The trial against Lynn and the alleged offending priest, the Rev. James Brennan, has already created a shake-up in Philadelphia's Catholic leadership, according to Catholic commentator and blogger Rocco Palmo.
"It's a shift you see once in 200 years," Palmo told CNN.
March 30th, 2012
01:52 PM ET
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) – Even though Roman Catholics are the second-largest religious group in the United States, the tradition has seen an exodus of members in recent decades. One in ten Americans is an ex-Catholic.
If ex-Catholics were counted as their own religious group, they would be the third-largest denomination in the United States, after Catholics and Baptists, according to the National Catholic Reporter.
If it weren’t for the infusion of Catholic immigrants, especially from Latin American, the American Catholic Church would be shrinking pretty fast.
A recent study by two college professor tries to get at a simple question: Why are they leaving?
February 21st, 2012
01:03 AM ET
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.
February 7th, 2012
04:20 PM ET
By the CNN Wire Staff
An Irish woman who detailed her own harrowing experience of child sexual abuse at the hands of a priest spoke out during a Vatican symposium on Tuesday, telling church officials that an apology was not enough.
"Those fingers that would abuse my body the night before were the next morning holding and offering me the sacred host," Marie Collins told an audience at Gregorian University in Rome. "The hands that held the camera to photograph my exposed body, in the light of day were holding a prayer book when he came to hear my confession."
Collins said "there must be acknowledgment and accountability for the harm and destruction that has been done to the life of victims," calling for a strengthening of church policies to avoid what she called the "deliberate cover up and mishandling of cases."
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.