Three Roman Catholic priests, an ex-priest and a teacher pleaded not-guilty to charges of sexual abuse and conspiracy Friday in Philadelphia courtroom. With a gag order in place, neither defendants or their attorneys can speak to the media. Church reformers and supporters of the priests who are attending the court hearings.
Voice of the Faithful is a Catholic group formed in the wake of Boston’s sex-abuse scandal back in 2002. Outside the Courthouse, President Dan Bartley laid out a list of reforms he wants the church to implement. He’s calling on Catholics to stop donating to the church.
Bartley says officials such as Monsignor William Lynn, who is charged in connection with his role as a Church administrator, should be forced to resign.
“Any person, Catholic or non-Catholic, who reads the grand jury report can be other than absolutely appalled by his behavior and the fact that he knew this was going on, the fact that the records were available,” said Bartley.
But not everyone in court agreed with Bartley. Matt Coyne is a parishioner at St. Joseph’s parish in Downingtown, where Monsignor Lynn served as a pastor.
“I think he’s a wonderful person,” said Coyne. “I don’t think you hear that a lot. He’s been wonderful to us for years, and I know a lot of members of the parish are supportive of him. This is all very unfortunate for everybody.”
Also charged are Bernard Shero, James Brennan, Edward Avery and Charles Engelhardt. A preliminary hearing for all five is scheduled for June.