Commentary: SNAP Should Condemn Brutal Attack on Priest

The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) should condemn a high-profile, brutal attack against an elderly priest whom the suspected attacker alleges abused him in 1975.

The known facts, from an Associated Press report (11/12/10, by Gillian Flaccus and Terence Chea):

  • Will Lynch, now 43, alleges that Rev. Jerold Lindner, now 65, sexually abused him and his younger brother during a camping trip in May 1975.
  • "Lynch is accused of luring Lindner to the lobby of a retirement home in May [2010] and beating him bloody in front of horrified witnesses … Authorities say Lynch … attacked the priest on May 10 after the cleric failed to recognize him at the Jesuits' Sacred Heart retirement home in Los Gatos."
  • "Lindner has repeatedly denied abusing anyone and has never been criminally charged."
  • "In a deposition in the late 1990s, Lindner said he didn't recall Lynch or his brother."
  • The Lynch brothers received a $625,000 settlement from the Jesuit order in 1998.
  • "Lindner's younger sister and several nieces and nephews have accused Lindner of abuse, as have several women whose families were friendly with him when they were children."
  • "The Archdiocese of Los Angeles also settled two cases involving Lindner in its record-breaking $660 million payout in 2007." (Important note: The L.A. settlement does not in itself acknowledge that the alleged abuse actually took place.)

Yes, priests terribly abused minors. The harm to these individuals is immeasurable. The abuse scandals are a shameful episode in the history of the Church.

However, Mr. Lynch's actions need to be publicly condemned. A high-profile organization such as SNAP should be speaking out against this violence against a priest, especially since the AP reported that "hundreds" of "clergy abuse victims" are publicly supporting the alleged attacker and "want to contribute to a legal defense fund" for Lynch. By ignoring the violent attack, the organization might be sending a message to many that Lynch's alleged actions are acceptable.

Here's a comparison: In the very rare instances that some nutcases have awfully attacked and/or murdered abortion doctors, the first voices to condemn the actions are high-profile pro-life groups. These groups usually issue statements as soon as they hear about these awful crimes.

SNAP should follow this lead.

In my research, I saw that in August 2003, SNAP issued a press statement following the murder in prison of abusive cleric John Geoghan. The statement said, "Violence does not solve the problem of clerical sexual abuse or promote healing among victims. It can never be condoned."

That was over seven years ago. SNAP needs to send a message again to its members and to the public that it condemns violence against priests.


All people of good will should seek justice and healing for victims, as well as the future protection of children. However, the AP reports that the alleged attacker Lynch plans to use his criminal trial as a way "to heighten awareness of clergy sex abuse."

"Heighten awareness"?? C'mon. In light of the never-ending tsunami of media coverage on this issue for the past two-to-three decades, is there anyone left on the planet who is not aware of the crimes committed by priests?

This is yet another reason for SNAP to forcefully condemn Lynch's alleged attack.