Is An Abuse Victim Who Beats Up the Priest Who Abused Him Justified?

Take a gander at this:

From AP and the Huffington Post

Evidence will show the man on trial in the beating of an aging Jesuit priest was abused by the priest, but that still did not give him the right to take the law into in his own hands, prosecutors in Northern California said Wednesday in their opening statement in the trial of William Lynch.

Lynch, 44, is accused of beating the Rev. Jerold Lindner in 2010 in front of startled witnesses at a retirement home for priests.

Lynch has said Lindner abused him and his brother during a camping trip in Northern California.

I vote no as nobody should take the law into their own hands but I wonder how many comments along the lines of:

“He should be able to do things much worse to him.”
“Now he knows what it feels like to be abused.”
“This priest is a lower form of life, he deserves this and more. They should let the guy castrate him!”

Now before you rush to judgement on me for “making up outlandish quotes,” these were all told or written to me by people I know when we’ve discussed the abuse scandal. We easily forget that we are a religion of forgiveness when we are deeply wounded and offended. It’s why capital punishment is often looked upon as justified because many hold the view that criminals should be punished severely for their crimes.

As if that could change what they’ve already done.

I agree with the prosecuting attorney:

“The defendant beat this man up because he was angry and he wanted revenge,” she said. “The defendant planned and executed a violent attack against the man who molested him 30 years ago.”

But Gemetti said the molestation was not a defense to the charges. She called Lynch’s actions illegal “vigilante” justice.

So let’s not get into whether he can do this or not. Rather, regardless of where you fall on whether this guy should have the right to beat up his abuser-priest, do you think that he’ll beat the rap? I do.

Here’s why:

(Defense attorney) Harris also said he expects the priest to lie when he is called to testify. Lindner could be called to the witness stand as early as Wednesday afternoon and is expected to deny the rapes occurred. Harris told the jurors to take the priest’s credibility into account when deciding the case.

I hope that cooler heads prevail, but I have a feeling that revenge is what will win the day here.

And for that people should be ashamed of themselves.

Join the Conversation


  1. Did Mr. Lynch feel the wrong to him was resolved when he beat his abuser? Or was it a momentary release leaving the wound still gaping? When he told us to love our enemies — what a tough lesson! — Jesus taught us what he knew: that to keep hating keeps the hatred alive and most of all, harms the hater, not the one he hates. I lift Mr. Lynch to the Lord that he may come to know peace and that he is beloved of God.


  2. Justified? Yes. Have a right to? that’s a different issue. We have a criminal justice system so that people don’t feel they need to take the law into there own hands. In this particular case though, given the time frame, the chances that justice might have been done if Mr. Lynch had come forward are slim to none. How many priests of that era were arrested or tried? You could argue (and I would) that this was the only ‘justice’ available to him.

    The church has earned the scorn it is offered here with its blatant disregard for the welfare of children. Jesus says turn the other cheek but he also has strong words for the powerful who abuse their power. (you brood of vipers) and for those who disregard the poor and vulnerable. Because our Bishop’s blew it when it was their job to get rid of guys like Fr. Lindner there is very little sympathy left.

    I would also be very interested to hear a victim’s perspective on this question.


Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: