Did Bishop Finn Deserve Indictment?

Two weeks have passed since the indictment of Kansas City’s Bishop Robert Finn. The bishop’s critics are demanding his resignation, while his defenders protest his innocence. Let’s step back a pace, and put the matter in perspective.

The indictment of an American bishop is a big story—a huge story, an unprecedented story. Yet oddly enough, apart from Bishop Finn’s most vociferous critics and defenders, most American Catholics seem to be taking it in stride. During the past month, four other stories on the Catholic World News site have attracted more readers. In fact, a CWN report on the desultory Supreme Court discussion of the all-male Catholic priesthood claimed nearly twice as many readers as our report on the Finn indictment.

Are Catholics looking elsewhere for their coverage of this story? (That would be dangerous, since so few media sources offer a reasonably accurate and unbiased perspective.) Or are they simply exhausted, after a decade of headlines about accusations and lawsuits and pleas and settlements related to the sex-abuse crisis? I don’t know. I do know that this story is immensely important, because for the first time an American Catholic bishop will be judged not by friendly colleagues, nor by angry editorialists, but by a jury of ordinary citizens.

Try to imagine how readers might have reacted, ten or twelve years ago, to the news that a Catholic bishop had been indicted on criminal charges. In the 1980s it would have been nearly unimaginable. By 2002 it loomed as a possibility, as the abyss of the sex-abuse scandal opened under our feet. Still, while dozens of bishops were raked over the coals for their mishandling of the scandal, none was indicted — until this month. In several other cases, a grand jury looked askance at a bishop’s performance. But in every other case, the grand jury — probably following the prosecutor’s suggestions, as grand juries usually do — decided against criminal charges.

Why was Bishop Finn the first to be indicted? Even by the most hostile appraisal, his offenses were not nearly as grave as those of many other prelates. In 2002, we learned to our horror that dozens of American bishops had sheltered priests from prosecution, lied to parishioners about the abusive priests’ backgrounds, and assigned priests to parish ministry even after reading fat dossiers, detailing multiple incidents of known abuse. The worst that can be said about Bishop Finn is that he should have known that Father Shawn Ratigan was a threat to children.

So why has Bishop Finn been singled out for prosecution? The political climate in Missouri may be an important factor. Bishop Finn has made some enemies since he took over the leadership of the Kansas City diocese in 2005, with his unapologetic statements of Catholic orthodoxy. He decried abortion as “the most horrendous taking of human life in history.” He compared the presidential election of 2008 with the Battle of Lepanto in its importance for Christian civilization. He suggested that Catholic-school teachers should pledge their support for the teaching magisterium, and eased out a number of chancery employees who were not ready to support a drive for orthodoxy. He became a special target for criticism by liberal Catholics and by secularists hostile to the Catholic enterprise. So it was relatively easy for the Jackson County prosecutor, Jean Peters Baker, to paint Bishop Finn as the figure wearing the black hat; she could be fully confident that editorial writers — not just at Missouri secular newspapers, but also at the National Catholic Reporter and even the New York Times would support her — as indeed they did.

But however popular the indictment may be (at least in some circles), the prosecutor will have tremendous difficulty obtaining a conviction. Unless Bishop Finn agrees to a plea-bargain deal, Jean Peters Baker must convince a jury that the bishop intended to allow harm to children. The available evidence does not support that conclusion.

Exactly what did Bishop Finn do — or fail to do? A recent KCUR radio report gave this typically tendentious summary:

Bishop Finn is alleged to have known that Father Shawn Ratigan had taken sexually explicit photographs of children for several months before reporting to police. The indictments also allege Ratigan was allowed to work with children after he was removed from St. Patrick’s Catholic School.

But the “facts” highlighted in that report are precisely the key claims disputed by the Kansas City diocese. The bishop never saw Father Ratigan’s photos, and he was told that they were not pornographic. Nevertheless he pulled Father Ratigan out of active ministry and told him to stay away from children. When he found that the priest was violating that directive, he reported him to police.

That’s right: it was the Kansas City diocese, under the direction of Bishop Finn, that reported the priest to police. Father Ratigan now faces child-pornography charges because the diocese alerted prosecutors. Far from protecting the priest from prosecutors, the bishop and the diocese led the prosecutors to him!

So is the indictment of Bishop Finn entirely unjustifiable? Unfortunately, no.

Bishop Finn has acknowledged that he erred in his treatment the Ratigan case. An independent inquiry, commissioned by the bishop, found that the diocese had violated its own rules in responding to complaints about the priest. The bishop and the diocese mishandled the affair; that much is beyond dispute.

Bishop Finn was informed in December 2010 that Father Ratigan had some questionable photos on his laptop. True, the bishop was told that the pictures were not pornographic. But he knew — or certainly should have known — that they were disturbing. They were disturbing enough so that the technician who fixed the priest’s computer felt obliged to report them. They were disturbing enough that Father Ratigan attempted suicide when they were discovered. They were disturbing enough so that Father Ratigan was barred from further contact with children. If the photos were that disturbing, the bishop had ample reason to believe that Father Ratigan could pose a danger to children — particularly since the priest was known to be an avid photographer, and it was only reasonable to wonder whether he might have taken some of the pictures himself, using children in his parish as nude models.

Under the circumstances, the diocese should have opened a full investigation of the case. At an absolute minimum, Father Ratigan’s case should have been brought before the diocesan review board. But the vicar general, Msgr. Robert Murphy, chose to circumvent the review board and handle the case privately. Apparently Bishop Finn supported that decision; at least he did not overrule it. (It is worth noticing, however, that after further investigation of the case, the bishop relieved Msgr. Murphy of responsibility for handling sex-abuse complaints.)

The sex-abuse scandal exploded upon the Catholic Church in the US because bishops habitually chose to handle priestly abusers quietly, informally, sympathetically — rather than following the clear rules laid out by civil and canon law. At Dallas in 2002, the American bishops bound themselves to a new, stricter set of rules. But those rules are still only as good as the bishops who enforce them.

Now we learn that an American bishop, as late as 2011, was still ignoring the rules, still handling an accusation informally, still giving the benefit of the doubt to a priest who might pose a danger to children. The indictment of Bishop Finn may be politically motivated, and may not stand up to legal scrutiny. But the performance of Bishop Finn in this case was appalling.


This article also appears at Catholicculture.org.

Philip Lawler


Born and raised in the Boston area, Phil Lawler attended Harvard College, graduating with honors in Government in 1972. He did graduate work in political philosophy at the University of Chicago before entering a career in journalism. He has been Director of Studies for the Heritage Foundation, a member of two presidential inaugural committees; and a candidate for the US Senate. As a journalist, Phil has acted as editor of Crisis magazine. In 1986 he became the first layman to edit The Pilot, the Boston archdiocesan newspaper. From 1993 through 2005, Phil Lawler was the editor of Catholic World Report, an international monthly news magazine. And in 1996, recognizing the power of the internet, he founded Catholic World News: the first online Catholic news service. Phil Lawler is the author of five books on political and religious topics. He has recently completed a new book titled "The Faithful Departed: The Collapse of Boston's Catholic Culture". His essays, book reviews, and editorial columns have appeared in over 100 newspapers around the United States and abroad, including the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, and Boston Globe. Phil lives in central Massachusetts with his wife Leila and their seven children.

  • waiting on a friend

    “Under the circumstances, the diocese should have opened a full investigation of the case”

    No, their state law required the diocese to report it to police not open their own full investigation. The author also omitted that Finn settled months before a court case in which he promised to immediately report suspicious sexual matters in the future so he was also breaking the previous agreement. Also left out was that a Catholic school principal had gotten together months prior attestations of parents of Ratigan e.g. having children put their hands in his pocket for candy. Murphy summarized the letter to Finn but Finn having been in another court
    case on sexual abuse, he should have read the principal’s letter. Lawler left too much out….that’s why people should read the NY Times and other sources Catholic and not and see who is leaving out what.

    • Sarto

      Sorry, but the sex abuse scandal did not “explode” upon the American bishops. They were warned in 1985. The people who authored the report predicted the emerging scandal would cost the Church billions. The two priests who collaborated in the report were punished. The other, a lawyer, was outside the bishops’ reach.

      All of this was reported in that unmentionable newspaper the National Catholic Reporter, which continued to follow the story while the other Catholic newspapers, faithful to the hierarchy as a poodle, said nothing.

      • Richard M

        The fact that the National Catholic Reporter has done some worthwhile reportage on the sex abuse scandals cannot – cannot – excuse their uniformly unrepentant heterodox assault on Church teachings.

        At any event, NCR was hardly the only Catholic outlet to investigate or discuss these matters, nor are their motives for doing so quite as pure as you seem to suggest. Indeed, it’s of a piece with their general disdain for Church authority – save, of course, for those liberal bishops whose jibs they quite like the cut of (Rembert Weakland, anyone?).

        • Sarto

          I think if you construct a timeline, you will discover that the NCR scooped the rest of the Catholic Press over and over again. And as for diocesan newspapers? Did those fangless guardians of the truth say a word before the whole thing was a public relations disaster via the Boston Globe and then the other secular newspapers? And when they did speak, it was in the tone of this article: All this is the fault of the liberals and the secular humanists who want to hurt the Catholic Church.

    • St. Pat’s School Employee

      He did everything in his power NOT to find out. When the principal wanted to bring her memo to him, she was told to take it to Murphy. When she tried to talk to Murphy, he refused to discuss without the priest present. When she attempted to leave the memo, he told her to take it with her. She emailed it to ensure there was proof that she had tried to report his creepiness. Many of us wish we weren’t in the media so frequently, but without the FBI reporting to the mainstream media, the parishioners of St. Pat’s would have never been alerted.

  • Fr. Maximilian


    If the reporting on Bishop Finn on the above website is correct, then:

    1. More children were violated because Bishop Finn did not follow the law.

    2. Bishop Finn did NOTHING to identify, protect, or help the children violated in his diocese by his priest.

    3. Instead of giving the laptop with the evidence to police, Bishop Finn gave it to Ratigan’s brother who destroyed it.

  • waiting on a friend

    The Graves report at your link commissioned after the fact by the Diocese was stunning.
    Bishop Finn in December,2010 had the photos described to him….hundreds with crotch interest only… some under tables where little girls were sitting…one series of a two year old with the diaper in each photo being more and more removed until the vagina showed in the final picture. And Finn did no reporting to police until May of 2011…..two dates that Lawler above does not mention.
    The diocesan legal counsel thought the photos not porn legally but the Graves report showed that such photos resulted in convictions in that state which the legal counsel should have known. Finn did not seek a second opinion of the bizarre Philly psychiatrist’s conclusion that Ratigan was just depressed and not a pedaphile….despite two clergy urging Finn to get a second opinion. Only two Diocesan female managers had it right in December: call the police.
    Msgr. Murphy, the legal counsel, and the Philly psychiatrist and Finn were all about procrastination. Had they listened to the female managers who examined the photos, only Ratigan would be indicted right now….though a zealous prosecutor would actually have indicted Finn for not investigating the complaints of Principal Hess a year before since Finn was under oath from a previous case to notify allegation existence immediately which is the law anyway.

  • Margaret

    It is so tragic that Bishop Finn allowed children to be damaged. As a mandated child abuse reporter, he was required to contact the police. The mandated reporting law is one that is hard to enforce because the MR will typically deny knowledge/insight regarding the offense, but it appears Finn was aware of what was going on. I’d like to see this law much more aggressively prosecuted against all of those who have responsibility for the welfare of children. Principals of public schools are so often guilty here, and they tend to slide off the hook by claiming they weren’t aware of the issue.

  • I wonder why Msgr Murphy is not facing charges as well?

    • waiting on a friend

      I had the same reaction but I think it is discretion based on the budget in the prosecutor’s office. His telling Capt. Smith in December that there was one photo not hundreds and that it was a relative and was not sexual in nature effectively hid the truth of many crotch involved photos none of which were relatives of Ratigan. Seems like obstruction of justice since he was speaking to a policeman. Fr. Andrew Greeley in a 2004 book…”Priests: A Calling in Crisis” maintained from a poll that 16% of priests self identify as gay (way above the general population….hopefully chaste). I wonder if therefore when they are in high position, do they get swept away with inordinate sympathy for perpetrators who have a secret as they do.

  • A victim of recent Diocesan abuse

    The Diocese of Joliet in Illinois is also covering up an abuser is continues to be employed on staff in spite of numerous written and verbal complaints. No secular organization would allow this person’s behavior to continue more than 5 minutes, yet he has been allowed to continue for over 5 years. Any staff person attempting to address his sexual, physical, and verbal abuses has been threatened into silence. Bishop Conlon is at least consistent in his response to this issue, in that he has a long history of coverups in his previous diocese of Stuebenville.

  • Jeff

    There are credible reports that the anarchists occupying cities refuse to report rapes and other violent crimes out of fear of damage to the movement.

    A crime is a crime no matter who commits it.

    Yet I suspect that at least 50% of the lecturers in the comment section support the gag order on reporting rapes in the left wing movement.


  • waiting on a friend

    Jeff….try to avoid reading minds so as to denigrate morally those who differ with you. St. John of the Cross said when you fret about others, the devil adds things or subtract things about them in your imagination.
    I’d rear choke a rapist in a second….have done it on a thief. I’m my own mini hedge fund for a living so deduct me from the left wing. I am mobile wall street …yet a 99%er and I’ve never had the $400 black cod ben miso at Nobu. We currently are doing the Stop and Shop mega heroes…$2 off…. to avoid dishes for a week.

    • Cord Hamrick

      Awesome. You go, “waiting!”

      I mean…you go, followed by your name. I’m not telling you to go waiting…for anything. It’s just a shorthand for what you gave as your online moniker. I was just trying to indicate approval for the Stop and Shop scrimping, since I can kinda relate to waiting for sales, y’know, just like “waiting.”

      Oh, nevermind. It’s as confusing as trying to describe a joint rock concert featuring Yes, The Who, and The Guess Who.

      • waiting on a friend

        I think yesterday I got a sub made the day prior because the lettuce like my hair is waving….waving goodbye. But I can change the remaining piece with baby spinach.

  • Brother Rolf

    The Bishop is an enabler, simple as that.

    • Sarto

      I kept looking at that photo of Bishop Finn and wondering, where have I seen that face before? And then, in the night, it struck me. He is the perfect image of Mad Magazine’s Alfred E. Neuman, that feckless hero of the counter culture. Alfred E. Neuman in glasses.

  • Tom

    The bigger question is the role of Opus Dei in all this. Members of that group have consistently downplayed the child abuse scandal.

    In 1997, Navarro Valls, John Paul 2’s OD press spokesperson, blocked John Berrie’s investigation into the Maciel Scandal. In 2002, in an interview with NYT, the powerful Vatican OD head of the office of legislative text, Cardinal Herranz, stated that there is no need to get secular justice involved, since canon law was good enough. It was under Cardinal Herranz’s watch, the de facto Vatican attorney general at that time, that the worst cover-ups occurred, including that of Fr Maciel, Austrian Archbishop Groer, the absconding of Cardinal Law, the general non-response to emerging scandals in the 1990’s in Canada, US, Ireland, etc… Yet there is not a word about this to this day.

    In the last 24 months prominent OD members, such as Navarro Valls, Fr Wauck and even Fr McCloskey made retrograde public comments regarding the abuse scandal, that contradict even the Pope’s much more contrite statements. Fr McCloskey sided with the grossly inaccurate statement of the recent John Jay report, that only 5% of all the reported cases of abuses of minors were that of children. Fr McCloskey did not say that ”children” were arbitrarily defined in that study as only those <11 years old, and only instances of multiple abuses were counted. How ridiculous. I admire Fr McCloskey story with Dr Nathanson, but his statements on abuse diminish such accomplishments.

    So the question is why members of OD do this? This is despite the fact that few cases of sexual abuse were reported in that group (only a couple, from looking at public records). One possible answer is that this is to protect those that helped them in power. This was probably the case with Fr Maciel, who was featured prominently on OD web sites, when he came for Escriva’s canonization. OD needed all the support they could get for the speeded up and rigged beatification/canonization process (under Herranz, the office of promoter of faith was removed, allowing the ultra fast beatification and canonization of Escriva). Berry also reported that money was exchanged between the Legionaries and at least one member of Curia close of OD (Cardinal Solano).

    This not surprising considering Escirva‘s spirituality, where the most important form of “holiness” is “coercion, shamelessness, and intransigence”. Cheating and lying becomes possible when people operate “shamelessly”, under “coercion and intransigence”. The end always justifies the means, and might is right in that form of spirituality. They teach a form of spiritual autism, to love “little ordinary things”, like chocolate making for the sake of chocolate making. For hundred of years Doctors of the Church, Saints and Caholic commentators said that the Bible clearly teaches that prayer and work are both important, but that work is not the same as prayer. Escriva’s spiritualty finally succumbed to the popular secular notion that “Laborare est orare” (Works is prayer). But that is not in the Gospels. We are to Love God and love those around us, not work for the sake of work. Everyday kind gestures towards others are never “ordinary” or “little”. Instead, its ok to ignore abused children, or its ok to con young adults to become “numerary assistants” slaves to the elite “numeraries”, as long as the “movement” can grow. At least 1/3 of Escriva’s teaching is very similar in concept to the worst of liberation theology, but his “radical” non-Gospel doublespeak gets a pass because of the $$$$ it brings to Church coffers, it seems.

    So why be surprised by Bishop Flynn’s “holy shamelessness”? One would hope and pray that OD members start reflecting on behaviors that are the opposites of Escriva’s “holies”, virtues such as “persuasion, shame and understanding”. These are much closer to what Christ teaches us in the Gospels then Escriva’s “holies”, it seems to me.
    God help us!

  • Jeff

    I’ll take your words to heart, waiting on a friend.

  • waiting on a friend

    Jeff….the thing from St. John of the Cross was pivotal for me….just remember, the demons add or subtract when you fret.
    You might have what it takes to write Benedict. Sodano was getting construction jobs for his nephew from Macial….big jobs so that the money flowed to his family.
    He is still the head of the college of Cardinals. None of the hierarchy knows how to make a whip of cords for use against the hierarchy. One day such a Pope will arrive but we may not see it. Pope Paul III tried halfheartedly to stop the slavery permission to Iberia of those Popes right before him and Pope Leo XIII did put a stop to the castrati system of 29 Popes leading up to him starting in 1585.

    • Sarto

      This is why the current cult of the papacy is so silly. There have been good popes, saintly popes, and idiot popes. Pope John Paul II was brilliant…and he let himself be completely suckered by Maciel the Molester. Pope Benedict can say he tried to do something in 2000, fifteen years after the whole thing broke open. Not much proactive thinking over there, unless someone starts to imagine the possibility of women priests.

      • waiting on a friend

        I’m not with you on women priests because
        I Tim.2:11-14 is for me not Paul but God. But the last two Popes lacked due anger which according to Chrysostom and Aquinas is sinful. Cardinals Law and Sodano should be doing penance in a monastery…not collecting 12K a month til death and picking Bishops in Law’s case. Until you get a Pope with the anger of Christ’s whip period, the stumbling will continue. And if you can have lavender graduations at Georgetown while a Pope writes NT scholarship…then you have troughing of history. Women need not be priests….they need to nag Popes like St. Catherine of Siena did. We don’t need them adding to our feminized homilies. We need them doing their thing….as Catherine did…rebuking the Popes through letters.

        • Avila

          I agree with you, Waiting. Anyone who thinks that “women priests” are the solution to anything has not spent much time around women in work or communal situations. Women are now very powerful in the business and government worlds, and they behave exactly like their mail counterparts, for good and ill. Do you think that the Pope hears any of the hard truths about the way the bishops are handling the abuse cases? How can he let Cardinal Law sit in a cushy job in Rome? How can Bishop Finn continue in office? Does the hierarchy have any notion of how angry faithful Catholics are about this horrific scandal?

          • Waiting for a friend

            Popes are deluded by our system of total non accountability of them whereby they answer to no one which lets them follow their favorite hobbies like writing books and meeting and greeting dignitaries…rather than administrating from dawn to dusk. The misuse of the concept of subsidiarity also shields them from responsibility by blaming the local level only.
            After locals fail, it’s the Pope’s job to enter the
            situation even under subsidiarity. But no one will say that. Careers and sales of books by Catholic writers prevent honest writing on papal accountability. Paul made tents and so was not afraid to criticize Peter in Galatians. Not so now….paying one’s bills hinges on not criticizing Popes.

  • inKC

    Bishop Finn is a very good man who has set a good example for the people in his diocese in every respect, and I for one am giving him the benefit of a doubt. He has been constantly attacked for one thing or another by the Kansas City Star (a leftist rag if there ever was one!) which has had it out for him from day one. I believe you all need to take a deep breath and wait a minute before you convict him and dole out your sentence upon him. Bishop Finn is a decent man who would never sweep aside devient behaviour among his priests if he knew about it, and when he did find out about the truth and full extent of Fr. Ratigan’s abuses, he turned him in to the police. KC Star and other liberals would like nothing more than to ruin him and see him run out on a rail, they have blistered him unceasingly since he became bishop and they caught wind that he is not a mealy mouth liberal who only seeks to have others like him, but is a stonch conservative who desires nothing more than to serve Our Lord. Get the plank out of your own eye before complaining about the speck in his eye. You should not judge him, you might think you have all of the facts, but, unless you were there, you don”t really know. You should pray for him and for all of our bishops and priests. They all have bullseyes painted on their backs, we don’t need to pass the arrows on to their persecutors.

    • waiting on a friend

      Read the Graves report that Bishop Finn commissioned.
      Go to the bottom of page 102 and read forward. He told the Graves people he informed the two Vincentian priests at the retreat center about the restrictions on Ratigan (one being no children contact) and informed them of the crotch oriented children pictures on the laptop and of the attempted suicide. The two Vincentian priests each say Finn only told them of the suicide and had they known about the photos and restrictions, they would not have accepted Ratigan to stay there.
      Either Finn or two separate priests are lying.
      You’ll notice that some in the Catholic press are saying Principal Hess memoed Murphy in May of 2009. The bishop commissioned report says Hess met with Murphy and gave him a five page report which he pushed back to her at the end of the meeting.
      The Graves firm asked Finn why he did not inform parents at St. Patrick’s of the laptop photos in December.
      Finn stated that it would be like yelling fire in a movie theater. But some parents had been the ones who contributed to the 5 page report a year prior. Some parents had yelled fire

    • Fr. Maximilain

      Read the report contained in the link I posted above. Again, if the facts contained there are accurate, then in fact Bishop Finn did know of the extent, did nothing to find, defend, of help, these children, and then gave the evidence of even more violations of children to Ratigan’s brother who promptly destroyed it. Apparently none of this is denied by Bishop Finn. At the very least it demonstrates gross incompetence and a shameful and reprehensible disregard for the parishioners and their children. The people will have their say as to whether or not it was also criminal negligence.

      • Second Coming

        You’re so sweet.

        Now let’s tell the truth, Fr Maximilain. Its another case of bishops protecting pedophile priests, and continuing to allow them to be around children. And you are a case of a priest trying to minimize the crime, just like the other 100,000 priests in the United States.

        Also, the truth is that the report was not an “independent investigation”. It was done by Todd Graves, whose firm specializes in protecting the brand name of corporations, as you can see in their advertising at http://bit.ly/qXn6yK

        Therefore, the report is the absolute minimum truth, not commissioned under oath, so if people lied, there is no penalty.

        Thanks to priests like you and Finn, Catholics have no concept of the truth anymore.

  • lynette

    You can add to the list of things here in KC that contribute to Bishop Finn being vilified the fact he promulgated a Pastoral Letter on pornography in 2007. It is telling that the media here choose not to use language speaking of pornography, but one of “abuse”, when no physical/sexual abuse has been charged as of yet; only of child PORNOGRAPHY. We know that pornography is rampant in our culture, and even in our Catholic families. We are not eager to look at this horrendous misunderstanding of our own dignity and gift of sexuality in the use of pornography, but we sure want to excoriate someone, namely our bishop, on belief that he could and should have seen the ends of all things.

    • waiting on a friend

      In December 2010, the Diocesan female manager who reviewed the laptop found that Ratigan had a link to a spy camera that looked like a ballpoint pen and some of the photos she concluded were downloaded but others were taken with a personal camera. Here’s my question to you.
      If an adult male took crotch photos of any child in your family under a picnic table e.g…….would that not be sexual abuse to you?

  • Tom

    inkc and Lynette
    This is not a “liberal” vs. “conservative” issue.
    It’s about what is right and wrong. And please use words properly, stop perpetuating doublespeak. Sure, pornography like what is in Play Boy, Hustler and on the internet is very bad for every one, but this is content of adult actions for adult consumption (basically, the “free market” that many “conservatives” think is inherently moral; the same way “liberals” think that “science” is inherently moral).
    This has nothing to with what is at hand.
    In this instance, what the bad old “secular” media is saying is correct: it’s abuse of children, plain and simple.
    These children, that are in your parishes, deserve at least the same respect and dignity for life as embryonic stem cells in petridishes. You can’t talk about one without the other, I am sorry.
    BTW, I would like to commend Crisis magazine’s new team for the courage to post this.

    • A victim of recent Diocesan abuse

      Amen! You couldn’t have said it better!

  • A victim of recent Diocesan abuse

    These coverups in the Catholic Church are clearly consistent across the globe. There must be a fundemental guideline somewhere steering them. Is it coming from the Vatican? Surely, these can not be all coincidences. I tried to file a complaint at the Vatican, but could not find a contact.

  • John Zmirak

    Thank you. Such coverage will continue, and intensify if (God forbid) events should require it.

    I am personally staggered at the catastrophic, criminal cover-ups in which so many bishops participated–without any ecclesiastical consequences. How can the Church be taken seriously when it tells the world of global finance how to clean up its house, while Cardinal Law sits in St. John Lateran and the Legionary higher-ups remain in place? A clear-thinking non-Catholic could rightly ask us: “YOU are telling US how to clean our institutions?”

    What could we possibly say in return?

    “We have the highest, purest principles (TRUE!) and divine revelation (TRUE!). We just don’t feel constrained to live by them.”

  • Linus

    Bishop Finn was wrong, wrong, wrong. So if he is paying the price now, he can only blame himself.

  • Fred

    Sorry, boys, but I’m an attorney who has been active in sex abuse cases as defense counsel, plaintiff’s counsel, and on an investigative committee, and I’ll tell you flat out that I’d have advised Bishop Finn that “up-skirt” pictures do not constitute pornagraphy under the statute as I read it. Such an interest might indicate a sick, whacked-out priest, and Finn took him out of service. The priest does have legal rights, which Lawler is blissfully unaware of. Bishop Finn wisely referred it to his committee, instituted an independent investigation, and had staff consult whomever they thought appropriate, which included a policeman – who is always deemed to be on duty in matters of child abuse. Go scream about Weakland, Mahoney or George, but lay off Finn.

    • A victim of recent Diocesan abuse

      Bite me. Until you become a victim, do not quote legal mumbo jumbo without feeling the pain of one taken advantage of by the sactimonious fronts.

    • Tom

      Sorry Fred, 1) what you report is not what is in the public domain (there was at least one explicit picture). 2) what you report is by definition pedophilia as defined by the DSM IV. Either way, this is unacceptable. So now we have a Church governed by lawyers. Please tell your client to have the guts to come clean, and have devise a diocesan web page that advises parents 1) to look out for the safety of children first and report any inappropriate instances to a mandated reported outside of the diocese (doctor, nurse, police etc..) 2) only then report the event to the diocese, since it is clear that these offices are now governed by lawyers who’s job is to protect the bishop above all and those under him, to the detriment of children. Finally, let’s see what the judge and the jury decides. Like the post says, you may win, but either way, the Church looses.

      • Not Surprised

        I love all this Monday Morning quarterbacking, as if you all were there and actually know what’s going on. This is a hatchet job by an overzealous prosecutor pure and simple

        • W.

          Not Surprised,
          Actually a grand jury agreed with the prosecutor and the Graves commission which the Bishop appointed seem in agreement with the general direction also. Maybe victim-Catholicism is not the wisest course unless one is making big bucks from it.

        • Second Coming

          You will pay for this comment on your judgement day.

    • waiting on a friend

      Upskirt was not the only matter at hand. One series of picture was the incremental removal of a diaper of a two year old until there was bare vagina and buttocks. The Graves report cited precedent convictions on the matter at hand. It was lawyers who helped in the indictment process.

      • waiting on a friend

        ps. Go to top of page 96 of the Bishop’s own Graves report for successful prosecution of photos not involving sex acts but constituting lascivious display…
        and reflected in both Federal and Missouri law.

    • Patrick OMalley


      It is being proven that you don’t tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. So help me, God.

      Instead, you do the Catholic version, or the legal version, which is to do as much lying as you can get away with. God will not be as lenient, and you and other Catholic apologists who distort the truth will get what you deserve.

  • waiting on a friend

    Fred give us the date Finn finally informed the committee. You say “consulted a policeman”. The policeman was conned and will testify that he was called by phone about one picture not the hundreds they found and he was told it was of a relative and it was not… and was told it was not sexual by phone. The policeman saw no photos and was quizzed about one with the false stipulation that it was a relative.

  • waiting on a friend

    Fred…you told us a fib….the Graves report commissioned by the Bishop states in the compliance section that the Internal Review Board of the Diocese was not informed about Ratigan until after his arrest….which is one year after parents complained via a five page report by Principal Hess discussed with Vicar Murphy who informed Finn of Hess’ claims…..and it is five months after hundreds of crotch photos and the series of the bare vagina were found.
    Do not repeat your claims elsewhere on the Catholic net or you will run afoul of the 8th commandment and a judge Who cannot be bs’d.

  • S.
    • waiting on a friend

      If you were actually reading on this in the Graves report you would know that Donahue’s facts are fiction in the first three paragraphs. He leaves out:

      1. The five page report by Principal Hess in May of 2010 delivered to Finn’s right hand man, Msgr. Murphy by Hess and discussed with him at the end of which, Murphy pushed the report back across the desk to Hess and then
      apprised Finn of its contents 7 months before the computer revelations.
      2. Donahue leaves out the fact that Finn agreed in court in a previous case (10million dollar settlement) to report allegations immediately henceforth. That would have been 7 months before the photo call to one cop based on multiple patents complaining thru Hess.
      3. Donahue leaves out that the cop who was called was not told that the vagina picture was the ending photo of a strip tease series in which it was the final photo of a series
      in which each successive photo removed the diaper
      incrementally (Graves Report page 88). The cop said it was not indictable because Murphy told him it was of a relative (Graves Report page 86) and did not tell him it was part of
      a series nor did Murphy tell him there were hundreds of crotch oriented photos.
      4. Donahue says the Bishop placed Ratigan away from children. Yes….if across the street is your idea of “away”.
      He was placed to live with two Vincentian priests who disagree with Bishop Finn that he told them of the no children contact restriction and of the laptop photos. They thought Ratigan was just recovering from the suicide attempt. Across the street is a Franciscan retreat house that often has youth but Finn actually did apprise the nuns there of Ratigan’s real problem so the children there were safe only if the nuns watched Ratigan whenever he was there.

      S…..do some research on Donahue. Months after the NYTimes revealed (and a Catholic canon lawyer agreed in Commonweal) that the CDF had jurisdiction over sex abuse cases not in 2001 when John Paul gave it but all along due
      to two memos of 1922 and 1962….Donahue months later was talking as though the revelation never happened. I don’t think he reads detail on some issues he dives into.

      • Donahue told the “Catholic truth”, which is just enough to convince the old ladies to keep contributing.

        He also knows that most of the congregation wouldn’t get up off the couch to do “What Jesus Would Do”. Since Catholics don’t know, Jesus would

        – find the truth and find every victim, even if it meant lie detector tests for every single priest
        – try to save every victim
        – throw every pedophile priest in jail or in a church dungeon, since they are the anti-christ by the definition
        – throw every pedophile protecting bishop out also
        – throw anyone who lied or enable child rape in the past 60 years in God’s church in the same dungeon

        The Catholic church hides the pedophiles, even today. In your face. Bet there are no couches in heaven.

  • waiting on a friend

    #2….should read “multiple parents” not multiple patents.

  • Not Surprised

    Monday. Morning. Quarterbacks.

  • This is the reasoning of many in the diocese.

  • It takes a village to rape a child, and the Catholic community will still support their pedophile protecting bishops no matter how many times this happens. Finn defiantly protected a known pedophile in 2010, sheltered him for a year, destroyed evidence on Ratigan’s computer (by giving it to the family), and misled the congregation the whole time. Wait til you hear how he “told the police”.

    Catholics protect their pedophile priests like parents protect their children.

    Parents – keep your children away from Catholic priests.

    • W.

      Patrick..you’re a reviler and as such risk entering hell….I Cor.6:10. Get an asbesto suit. You said “Catholics protect their pedophile priests…”. That’s breaking the 8th commandment. A Catholic prosecutor in Philadelphia brought indictments against three abusing priests and one enabling Vicar.
      In Kansas the Principal, Julie Hess, risked her job by reporting Ratigan and she is Catholic. Teachers, at her school at a picnic when Ratigan had a child on his lap, stood in a group right in front of Ratigan til he put her down ( Ratigan is built like a truck with a 20″ plus neck).
      They are Catholic. Catholics in Kansas rather than in your imaginative temper….are calling for Finn’s ouster.

  • Patrick OMalley

    Note also that the “Graves report” was not done by an “independent investigator”.

    Todd Graves’ specialty is protecting the brand name of corporations that are in trouble, like the Catholic church, as you can see in their advertising at http://bit.ly/qXn6yK

    Catholic bishops can’t be honest for 5 minutes. And the beat and the deceit goes on…