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Two Americans Among Eight Experts Invited to Vatican Peace Conference


The Pontifical Academy of Sciences
Two Americans are among the key political experts invited by the Vatican for a January 13 conference aimed at promoting a cease-fire in Syria, the protection of Christians there, and a transitional and unified government.
The two U.S. participants in the one-day meeting are economist and advisor Jeffrey Sachs, who is active in the world fight against poverty and hunger, and Thomas Walsh, international president of the Universal Peace Federation and a U.S. expert in interreligious peace building and security.
The title for the workshop is “Syria: With a death toll of 126,000 and 300,000 orphans in 36 months of war, can we remain indifferent?”
Jeffrey Sachs
The Vatican meeting, which is sponsored by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, will precede major peace talks scheduled for January 22 in Geneva between the Syrian government and opposition forces.  The Vatican will seek to propose “a cease-fire to make humanitarian aid possible” in Syria; an end to “persecutions against Christians to encourage interreligious dialogue; a transitional authority to organize elections (and) a unified national government also responsible for the military sector and security;” as well as an end to human trafficking and prostitution in the war-torn nation.
Thomas Walsh
An eight-page program prepared by the Pontifical Academy gave a brief background of the Syrian conflict.  It said U.S. calls for Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down “put the U.S. in effective opposition to the United Nations’ peace initiative” put forth in early 2012. 
According to the booklet, “Russia argued that America’s insistence on Assad’s immediate departure was an impediment to peace. In this, perhaps Russia was right.”  However, it continued, while Russia backed UN peace initiatives, it also–along with Iran–“supplied more and more sophisticated weapons to the regime” as the U.S. and other countries financed the rebels.
The workshop program also outlined Pope Francis' calls, prayers and diplomatic efforts for peace in the region. 
Opening remarks at the workshop will be delivered by French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. 
Other experts and leaders invited by the Vatican to participate, in addition to Americans Sachs and Walsh, include:
·       Tony Blair, founder of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation and official envoy of the Quartet on the Middle East:  the U.N., European Union, Russia and the United States.
·       Former Egyptian Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei, former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, 2005 Nobel Peace Prize winner, and a major figure in Egypt’s revolution against ousted Presidents Hosni Mubarak and Mohammed Morsi.
·       Pyotr Stegny, a former diplomat and expert in Russian diplomacy and foreign policy in the Middle East.
·       Joseph Maila, a Lebanese expert on the Middle East, Islam and politics.
·       Miguel Angel Moratinos, a Spanish diplomat and member of congress who served seven years as the European Union special representative for the Middle East peace process.
·       Thierry de Montbrial, a French economist and expert in international relations.

According to a report from Radio Vaticana,
With the upcoming "Geneva II" talks, the "resumption of the U.N. peace process, this time with the U.S. and Russia on the same side to prevent violence, might succeed in keeping al-Qaida at bay—a shared interest—and finding a pragmatic long-term solution for Syria's complex internal divisions."

Meanwhile, a two-person delegation representing the Syrian government delivered a letter for Pope Francis from Assad. The letter was delivered Dec. 28 when the Syrians met at the Vatican with Archbishop Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, the Vatican foreign minister, and gave a ‘message’ to the Pope.
The January talks in Geneva are a follow-up to a meeting in June 2012 when international parties proposed a peace plan calling for a transitional government body in an effort to end a civil war that began in March 2011.

Catholic News Service reports that the conflict between Assad's government and rebel forces has killed more than 100,000 people, driven 2 million refugees out of Syria and displaced more than 4 million inside the country.



The Naked Woman in Cologne Cathedral and Her American Paparazzi Connection

By Kathy Schiffer
On Christmas Day, as the 10 a.m. high Mass got underway in Germany’s Cologne Cathedral, a young woman in the front row stripped off her coat, exposing her naked body, rushed to the sanctuary and climbed atop the great altar.  Painted across the screaming woman’s bare chest were the words “I AM GOD.”
Josephine Witt, the protestor, was a 20-year-old philosophy student and a member of the feminist anarchist group FEMEN.  Before Cardinal Joachim Meisner could begin the prayers of the Mass, she was quickly apprehended by ushers and guards and by angry worshippers, and whisked away to a waiting police car.  In videos of the disturbance, one man can be seen throwing his coat over Ms. Witt’s exposed breasts before she is dragged from the cathedral.  Another man, an elderly worshipper near the front pew, steps out to slap the screaming woman’s face before returning to his seat.
I’ve written about FEMEN before.  The group, which had its beginnings in 2008, has protested in support of issues including abortion and gay marriage, and opposing Islamism and sharia law.  Their radical viewpoints frequently bring them into conflict with religion.
This time, FEMEN’s objection is with regard to abortion rights.  In an interview with German journalist Fabian Reinbold published in the German weekly newsmagazine Der Spiegel, Witt said:
“I do not consider myself to be God—which, of course, was a provocation.  You should show that we are all responsible for our actions on earth—that no one can forbid any woman to make decisions about their own bodies. This is exactly what Cardinal Joachim Meisner has done, however, by refusing to permit abortions. This is an unworldly approach, which fights against the Femen.”
Challenged by Reinbold to explain why FEMEN protested in a Catholic Church, and why it engages in shock protests which are considered by some to be vulgar, Witt explained:
“We act not against believers, but against the institution [of the Church] and people like [Cardinal] Meisner, which they use to oppress women.”
Witt asserted that FEMEN objects to Cardinal Meisner’s and the Catholic Church’s attitude toward “abortion and pedophilia”—as though the Church opposed the first, but supported the second.
*     *     *     *     *
There are two things which irritate me about the whole shameful event—besides the exhibitionist freak show itself.
  • First is that the media, obviously cued in advance about the FEMEN protest, were standing ready to capture the protest on film, but no one in the media offices had the personal fortitude to warn authorities or to take any action to prevent the sacrilege within Germany’s largest cathedral.  FEMEN’s stunts are designed for maximum publicity; and the organization had invited the largest media outlets to ensure that the world would hear the story. The Express, Cologne’s largest newspaper, had a reporter and photographer present.  A cameraman from Hans Paul Media, one of the world’s largest paparazzi organizations, had already photographed Josephine Witt fully clothed in her pew; he now waited in the south wing of the cathedral for the Mass to be interrupted, so that he could capture the bold protest as it happened.
  • And secondly, I am irritated by the reports that German police are seeking the man who slapped the protester—presumably to slap an assault charge on him.  Is it not possible, I wonder, that a woman who charges the altar—stripping naked in front of God and small children, and screaming obscenities—is a hostile invader?  Didn’t the Catholic worshippers have the right to protect themselves, their elderly archbishop, and their Church?
By the way, Hans Paul—the head of the paparazzi company which staked out the cathedral to catch Witt’s indecent stunt on film—has ties to America.  A German-born photo lab technician, Paul’s career has included early work on a steamship, in a Venezuelan steel factory, in an Israeli kibbutz, and in a copper mine in Israel’s Negev Desert.  He once hitchhiked across the United States; and in 1998, he established residency in Los Angeles, where he photographed Hollywood stars and other celebrities.  He now lives in Sydney, Australia, but his agency employs photographers worldwide.

Bishop Pates Embarks on Fact-Finding Mission to Middle East

Bishop Richard E. Pates

Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa will depart January 6, 2014 on a two-week fact-finding mission in the Middle East. 

Bishop Pates, who serves as chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, has a special concern for Syria and the Holy Land, and plans to show support for the local Church and the relief work of Catholic agencies in the region.  He echoed the words of Pope Francis in his Urbi et Orbi message, particularly addressing the violence faced in Syria, the Central African Republic, South Sudan and the Holy Land.

“Too many lives have been shattered in recent times by the conflict in Syria, fueling hatred and vengeance,” Pope Francis said. “Let us never lose the courage of prayer!  The courage to say: Lord, grant your peace to Syria and to the whole world.  And I also invite non-believers to desire peace with that yearning that makes the heart grow: all united, either by prayer or by desire.  But all of us, for peace.”


Bishop Pates continued, “As I prepare to make a solidarity visit to the Middle East in support of the local Church caught in the midst of regional conflicts, I recall in a special way our Holy Father’s Urbi et Orbi Christmas message in which he invoked the ‘Prince of Peace’ to lead people to give up their arms and ‘undertake the path of dialogue.  In addition to a special concern for the Church and People of Syria, Egypt, Israel and Palestine, we remain deeply concerned for South Sudan, the Central African Republic and all places that do not know God’s peace.”

In Israel and Palestine, he will attend a meeting of the Coordination of Episcopal Conferences in Support of the Church in the Holy Land. The Holy Land Coordination consists of representatives of Catholic bishops’ conferences of Europe, North America, and South Africa. The group will hold sessions and make visits:
•  To understand the social, political and ecclesial realities of the Holy Land
•  To advocate more effectively for justice and peace
•  To support the efforts of the local Church especially through the work of Catholic agencies
•  To support the mission of the Apostolic Nuncio especially regarding fundamental and basic agreements.

*     *     *     *

More information on the work of the Committee on International Justice and Peace can be found at: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/global-issues/middle-east/israel-palestine/index.cfm

Obama Administration Tells Supreme Court: Force Catholic Nuns to Obey Birth Control Mandate

As expected, the Obama administration is standing by its decision, requiring Catholic nuns to pay for insurance coverage which includes birth control and abortifacients.

From LifeNews.com:

The Obama administration has filed legal papers appealing a decision by the Supreme Court to protect a group of Catholic nuns from being forced to obey the controversial birth control mandate.
As LifeNews reported this week, in a huge 11th-hour victory for pro-life advocates, the Supreme Court issued an order late Tuesday night stopping the Obama administration from forcing a group of Catholic nuns to obey the HHS mandate that compels them to pay for abortion-causing drugs and birth control.
The group Little Sisters of the Poor received a temporary injunction from the Supreme Court protecting them from the controversial HHS contraceptive mandate.  The injunction means that the Little Sisters will not be forced to sign and deliver forms authorizing and directing others to provide contraceptives, sterilizations and drugs and devices that cause abortions.
“We are delighted that the Supreme Court has issued this order protecting the Little Sisters,” said Mark Rienzi, Senior Counsel for the Becket Fund, a pro-life legal group that represented the organization.  “The government has lots of ways to deliver contraceptives to people–it doesn’t need to force nuns to participate.”
But that’s just what the Obama administration did today.
In an interview after the decision, the White House said forcing the Catholic nuns to pay for those objectionable things that run counter to Catholic Church pro-life teachings strike’s the right “balance.”
It followed up on that comment with papers asking the Supreme Court not to exempt Catholic groups from the HHS mandate. The administration responded just before the Friday morning deadline.
“Applicants have no legal basis to challenge the self-certification requirement or to complain that it involves them in the process of providing contraceptive coverage.,” the Obama administration said in its papers.
The order was issued by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who is the Justice assigned for emergency applications from the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.  Justice Sotomayor also ordered the federal government to file a brief in response to the Little Sisters’ application.
She gave government officials until 10 a.m. EST Friday to respond to her order.
Prior to the order, preliminary injunctions had been awarded in 18 of the 20 similar cases in which relief had been requested.
“Virtually every other party who asked for protection from the mandate has been given it,” said Rienzi.  “It makes no sense for the Little Sisters to be singled out for fines and punishment before they can even finish their suit.”
The Little Sisters are joined in the lawsuit by religious health benefit providers, Christian Brothers Services, Christian Brothers Employee Benefits Trust.  The Plaintiffs are also represented by Locke Lord, a national law firm, and by Kevin Walsh, a law professor at the University of Richmond.
Also this week, in a huge victory for Priests for Life, a pro-life organization, a federal appeals court issued a ruling saying it doesn’t have to pay massive fines to the federal government for not obeying the HHS mandate, which forces religious groups and companies to pay for birth control or abortion-causing drugs for their employees.
To date, there are currently 91 lawsuits challenging the unconstitutional HHS mandate.
The Supreme Court recently agreed to take a case from Christian-run business Hobby Lobby, which is suing the Obama administration over its mandate that it pay for birth control and abortion-causing drugs for its employees. But where do Americans stand on the issue of whether employers should be forced to comply with the mandate?
A new Rasmussen Reports poll shows they apparently agree.
“Half of voters now oppose a government requirement that employers provide health insurance with free contraceptives for their female employees,” Rasmussen reports.
The poll found: “The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 38% of Likely U.S. Voters still believe businesses should be required by law to provide health insurance that covers all government-approved contraceptives for women without co-payments or other charges to the patient.
Fifty-one percent (51%) disagree and say employers should not be required to provide health insurance with this type of coverage. Eleven percent (11%) are not sure.”
Another recent poll found 59 percent of Americans disagree with the mandate.

HHS Mandate Fares Poorly in Court Challenges

According to a report from Townhall.com, the Obama Administration has lost 88% of the cases brought against the HHS Mandate.


Over the Christmas holidays, several new breakthroughs emerged in the legal challenges against President Obama’s HHS Mandate.

First, and most notably, on New Year’s Eve Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor granted a preliminary injunction against the Mandate to the Little Sisters of the Poor, a group of Catholic nuns who minister to the elderly.  The sisters had appealed a lower court’s decision denying them injunctive relief, so it was a great boon to see Justice Sotomayor reverse that ruling.

Next, Stand Up Coalition members Priests for Life were also granted injunctive relief in their suit against the Mandate, along with other similar groups that are obviously religious, but whose main mission is not providing religious services, like Thomas Aquinas College, a Catholic liberal arts college in California.


Read the rest here.

Today on "Kresta in the Afternoon" – We Count Down the Top 40 Interviews of 2013

Talking about the "things that matter most" on January 2

COUNTDOWN OF THE TOP 40 INTERVIEWS OF 2013

4:00 – #7 - Still Point: Loss, Longing and Our Search for God
Franciscan University professor, popular speaker, and prolific author Regis Martin tells how the deaths of his mother and brother pushed him to revisit all he knew and felt about God and his own deepest desires--and how he came to reconcile the theology he teaches with the lived experience of faith. He narrates the crisis of faith he faced when his mother and brother died. Against this backdrop he explores the questions at the heart of all human longing: What does it mean to really be lost? What if God doesn't want us after all? What does Christ's cry from the cross say about human suffering? Why is it never hopeless to hope? Martin eloquently shows that it is at the still point that one encounters the mingling of past and future, grit and grace, man and God.

4:40 – #6 - Lumen Fidei(The Light of Faith)
The Holy See has released Lumen Fidei (The Light of Faith), the first encyclical letter of Pope Francis. The document is dated June 29, the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul. It was introduced to the media at a press conference in Rome on Friday. The encyclical on faith was begun by Pope Benedict XVI, before his resignation, and completed by Pope Francis, who referred to the document as the work of “four hands,” suggesting that the encyclical represented the work of both himself and his predecessor. In his introduction, Pope Francis writes that Benedict XVI “had almost completed a first draft of an encyclical on faith.” He says that he “added a few contributions of my own.” Still the document is signed only by Pope Francis, and will be known to history as the 1st encyclical of the new Pontiff. We talk to Dr. Scott Hahn.

5:00 – #5 -Forgiving and Moving On After Personal Tragedy
Amy O’Rourke, is a mother of four and a member of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Fenton, MI. She is also the wife police officer Patrick O’Rourke who was killed late last year after being shot during a standoff late at a home in West Bloomfield, MI. The 39-year-old’s funeral was attended by thousands of friends, family and fellow force members. Amy joins us again to talk about forgiveness, recovery and being a widowed mother.

5:40 – #4 - China to maintain 1-child policy but is there a signal of future change?
The Chinese government has announced that it will maintain its family-planning policy but will merge its National Population and Family Planning Commission into its Ministry of Health--a move that may signal a future weakening of the policy. Wang Feng, director of the Brookings-Tsinghua Center for Public Policy in Beijing says “The way to interpret this is that the laws are still in effect, but the judges and the policemen have all been fired. Soon the laws will also change. Leaders are aware of the changing demographics. The one-child policy has taken a toll on the labor force and has jeopardized the future economy.” Should we see great hope in this announcement? David Aikman, china expert and former Beijing bureau chief for Time Magazine joins us.


Another Victory: Priests for Life Wins in the U.S. Court of Appeals

Fr. Frank Pavone
President, Priests For Life

The big news yesterday afternoon was Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s emergency stay, blocking implementation of the HHS Mandate for the Little Sisters of the Poor--but there have been other victories, too.  

Also yesterday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit granted an emergency injunction to Priests For Life, so that the organization will not have to cancel its health insurance for its employees.

Here is their press release announcing the victory.
                                                

12/31/2013 
     



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


WASHINGTON, D.C. -- 4:58pm  An emergency injunction granted just moments ago in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit means that Priests for Life will not have to obey the contraception mandate contained in the Affordable Care Act as its appeal is being heard. It also means that, tomorrow, Priests for Life will not have to cancel health insurance for its employees.

Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, said he is grateful his organization is free, temporarily at least, from having to comply with the unjust mandate or face steep fines by failing to comply when the ministry’s new insurance policy goes into effect on Wednesday.

“We would not have complied with this mandate in any case, as it promotes the very culture of death that Priests for Life works to combat,” Father Pavone said. “We are grateful for this temporary relief and look forward to a permanent injunction once the appeal is fully heard.”

“Our lawsuit was among the very first ones in the country and the necessity to launch it shows that religious freedom in America is in grave danger.  We have to take action.”

On Dec. 19, Priests for Life learned that the judge in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia had ruled in favor of the government. Within an hour Priests for Life filed for the emergency injunction that was granted today.

Father  Pavone said that what the Obama administration has tried to do through the HHS mandate – which he called a “blatant act of tyranny” – is to give the federal government the power to determine what is and what isn’t important in an individual’s religion; that is not the government's role.

Father Pavone concluded, “There have already been significant victories in the courts against the HHS mandate, and we have no doubt that Priests for Life ultimately will prevail in this historic fight.”

BREAKING: Justice Sotomayor Blocks Implementation of HHS Mandate

Justice Sonia Sotomayor
By Kathy Schiffer

Only hours before the law was to take effect, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor has blocked implementation of part of President Barack Obama’s signature health care law. 

The legislation in question would have forced religion-affiliated organizations to provide health insurance for employees covering a range of preventive care, free of charge, including contraception.  Failure to implement Obamacare coverage by the January 1 deadline would have resulted in substantial penalties.   Since the Catholic Church prohibits the use of contraceptives, lawyer Mark Rienzi argued that the mandated insurance was not acceptable.

Sotomayor’s stay follows a late-afternoon request to President Obama from Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, archbishop of Louisville and president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.  Archbishop Kurtz had asked President Obama to grant Catholic organizations temporary relief from penalties for noncompliance with the requirements of the HHS Mandate.  Archbishop Kurtz explained the consequences which the Affordable Care Act for Catholic social service and educational organizations:
Please consider, then, the result of your Administration’s current policies. In the coming year, no employer, large or small, will be required to offer a health plan at all. Employers face no penalty in the coming year (and only $2000 per employee afterwards) for canceling coverage against their employees’ wishes, compelling them to seek individual coverage on the open market. But an employer who chooses, out of charity and good will, to provide and fully subsidize an excellent health plan for employees – but excludes sterilization or any contraceptive drug or device – faces crippling fines of up to $100 a day or $36,500 a year per employee. In effect, the government seems to be telling employees that they are better off with no employer health plan at all than with a plan that does not cover contraceptives. This is hard to reconcile with an Act whose purpose is to bring us closer to universal coverage. 
According to a report from the Associated Press, Justice Sotomayor acted on a request from the Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged in Denver.  The Sisters' request for an emergency stay had been denied earlier in the day by a federal appeals court.

According to Associated Press:
The government is "temporarily enjoined from enforcing against applicants the contraceptive coverage requirements imposed by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act," Sotomayor said in the order. She gave government officials until 10 a.m. EST Friday to respond to her order.
Mark Rienzi explained, "The Little Sisters are an order of Catholic nuns whose religious faith leads them to devote their lives to caring for the elderly poor. Not surprisingly, they have sincere and undisputed religious objections to complying with this Mandate.”
The Obama administration crafted a compromise, or accommodation, that attempted to create a buffer for religiously affiliated hospitals, universities and social service groups that oppose birth control. The law requires insurers or the health plan's outside administrator to pay for birth control coverage and creates a way to reimburse them.
But for that to work, the nuns would have to sign a form authorizing their insurance company to provide contraceptive coverage, which would still violate their beliefs, he said.
"Without an emergency injunction, Mother Provincial Loraine Marie Maguire has to decide between two courses of action: (a) sign and submit a self-certification form, thereby violating her religious beliefs; or (b) refuse to sign the form and pay ruinous fines," he said.
Sotomayor's decision to delay the contraceptive portion of the law was joined by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which also issued an emergency stay for Catholic-affiliated groups challenging the contraceptive provision. But one judge on the three-judge panel that made the decision, Judge David S. Tatel, said he would have denied their motion.
"Because I believe that appellants are unlikely to prevail on their claim that the challenged provision imposes a 'substantial burden' under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, I would deny their application for an injunction pending appeal," Tatel said.
The full press release from the USCCB and letter from Archbishop Kurtz to President Obama can be viewed here.

Today on "Kresta in the Afternoon" – December 27, 2013

Talking About “The Things That Matter Most” on December 27

COUNTDOWN OF THE TOP 40 INTERVIEWS OF 2013

4:00 – #23 - The Gettysburg Address Turns 150 Years Old
On the Civil War battlefield where President Abraham Lincoln gave a speech that symbolized his presidency and the sacrifices made by Union and Confederate forces, thousands gathered today, historians and everyday Americans alike, to ponder what the Gettysburg Address has meant to the nation. Lincoln's Gettysburg Address -- delivered 150 years ago today, took place here nearly five months after the major battle that left tens of thousands of men wounded, dead or missing. We talk to Ronald White Jr. who has written one of the most authoritative biographies of our 16th President, A. Lincoln: A Biography

4:40 - #22 - All-American Horror Story: Top 10 Kermit Gosnell Trial Revelations
Since so many in the media have failed/refused to report on the late-term abortionist/infant serial killer Kermit Gosnell trial happening right now in Philadelphia, Kristan Hawkins, Director of Students for Life, has rounded up a top 10 list of the most gruesome, horrific revelations that have come out during the trial. She joins us.

5:00 – #21 - Matt Maher: Songwriter, Worship Leader and Catholic Witness
Matt Maheris a contemporary Christian music artist, songwriter, and worship leader originally from Newfoundland, Canada. He has written and produced six solo albums to date. Three of his albums have reached the Top 25 Christian Albums Billboard chart and four of his singles have reached the Top 25 Christian Songs chart. He is a practicing Catholic and is here today to discuss his faith, his music and his inspirations.

5:40 - #20 - Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Mid-Air
Working from years of experience in defending Christian values, Frank Beckwith is here to offer a critique of moral relativism. He explores the inconsistencies inherent in the relativist position, suggests specific approaches that can be used in the course of dialogue, and considers the everyday implications of relativism, especially in relation to important issues such as: abortion, homosexuality, multiculturalism, political correctness, and tolerance. Frank joins us.

Philadelphia Appeals Court Overturns Conviction of Msgr. William Lynn in Abuse Case

By Kathy Schiffer

“I did not intend any harm to come to him. The fact is, my best was not good enough to stop that harm. I am a parish priest. I should have stayed (one).” 
--Monsignor William J. Lynn, speaking at his sentencing
about a victim of clergy abuse


Monsignor William J. Lynn
A Pennsylvania appeals court ruled December 26 that Monsignor William Lynn, secretary for clergy from for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia from 1992 to 2004, was wrongly convicted in a criminal child endangerment case involving convicted former priest Edward Avery.

In his role as vicar for clergy under the late Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, Monsignor Lynn was responsible for handling clergy abuse cases.  When an accusation was made that Father Avery had abused an altar boy, Monsignor Lynn recommended that the priest be sent to a rehabilitation center.  Upon completion of treatment, and with the assurance of treatment professionals that the priest was indeed rehabilitated and unlikely to commit further acts of abuse, Father Avery was reassigned to another parish in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

According to the appeals court ruling, the state's child-endangerment law at the time of Father Avery's transfer clearly applied only to parents and caregivers.  The law was only amended in 2007 to include supervisors like Monsignor Lynn.

Monsignor Lynn has already served fifteen months of a three- to six-year sentence for his role in the handling of the case.  Today's decision overturns the legal basis for a prosecution that was viewed, according to the New York Times, as a "milestone in holding senior church officials accountable for keeping abuse reports secret in past decades and transferring predatory priests to unwary new parishes."

With the conviction overturned, Lynn will likely be released immediately.  Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams has indicated that he plans to appeal; but Thomas A. Bergstrom, a lawyer for Monsignor Lynn, called the ruling “a strong opinion by a unanimous court.”  Bergstrom added, “He shouldn’t have been convicted. He shouldn’t have been sentenced.”

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