Friday, June 3, 2011

The Finn Fiasco Gets Deeper. The Anger Level Rises

Bishop Finn's cappa magna, a Christmas gift from the the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of the Apostles convent. This is not the same convent in which Finn deposited Ratigan. Next Christmas perhaps it will be sack cloth and ashes.  For a trip to Finn's 1950's Heartland Catholicism, try this link.

More details have been revealed about the Ratigan case in Kansas City, MO.  They are disheartening to say the least.

Diocese was warned in 2006 about priest now facing child porn charges, lawsuit alleges
The Kansas City Star

Local Roman Catholic officials were warned in 2006 about a priest now accused of possessing child pornography yet took no action, a lawsuit filed in federal court Thursday alleges.
The lawsuit, filed by the parents of a young girl, also alleges that beginning around 2006 and continuing through 2010 the Rev. Shawn F. Ratigan took photographs underneath her clothing and while the child was nude.

Lawyers for the child’s family said the photographs were taken while Ratigan was assigned in St. Joseph.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, names Ratigan, Bishop Robert Finn and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph as defendants.

“Another child has been harmed, and more children have been harmed, and this diocese has failed to protect the children,” Jeff Anderson of the Minnesota law firm of Anderson & Associates said in a news conference in Kansas City.

The diocese issued a brief statement in response to the lawsuit.

“First and foremost, the diocese is deeply concerned for the well-being of this child and her family,” the statement said. “The bishop has reached out to a number of parishes and offered listening sessions.”...

....But the lawsuit alleges that as far back as 2006 an employee of the diocese reported to diocesan officials that she observed suspicious behavior involving Ratigan and a young girl. The lawsuit alleges that the diocese and Finn protected themselves and Ratigan from scandal by doing nothing with the report.The plaintiff’s lawyers would not provide further details about the 2006 report, including who made it or specifically to whom it was given.

The lawsuit alleges Ratigan took sexually explicit photographs, uploaded them to his computer and distributed them over the Internet. It also contends that Finn and the diocese possessed and distributed child pornography by viewing and making copies of Ratigan’s photos.
The lawsuit seeks damages, including expenses incurred for medical treatment of the girl.

Two law firms announced the legal action Thursday at a news conference.
Anderson’s firm was joined by the Kansas City firm of Randles, Mata & Brown, which has filed dozens of priest sex-abuse lawsuits. Anderson & Associates has filed about 2,000 priest sex-abuse lawsuits across the country.
The diocese “allowed this predator, Father Shawn Ratigan, to access children with what we believe is sufficient knowledge to not only have removed him but to have reported him,” Anderson said.
Ratigan’s attorney, John P. O’Connor, declined to comment.
One case handled by the Randles firm involved 47 plaintiffs and resulted in a $10 million settlement against the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese in 2008.
Rebecca Randles said the diocese entered an agreement with the plaintiffs when it settled that lawsuit.
“As part of the agreement, the diocese agreed that they would take certain steps to ensure that children were safe from now on,” she said.

Those steps, she said, included setting up victims’ advocacy programs and immediately reporting any abuse or suspicion of abuse to law enforcement authorities in accordance with Missouri statutes.
“Our clients are incredibly upset. They’re angry, and they’re very sad that the steps they took to try to protect children for the future simply seemed to fall on deaf ears,” Randles said. “At the time we negotiated those settlements, the bishop and the monsignor were in the mediations listening to those stories of abuse, listening to the lives that were shattered.(So much for the impact of listening sessions on the Bishop and his Vicar.)

Pat Noaker, of Anderson & Associates, told The Star that the FBI was investigating the case and that the girl’s family had been cooperating with the agency. Authorities in Buchanan County, where St. Joseph is located, also said the FBI was investigating.
FBI spokeswoman Bridget Patton said she could neither confirm nor deny whether the agency was looking into the Ratigan case....

.....Noaker said the lawsuit was alleging that the diocese possessed and distributed child pornography because “they had access, and they in fact made copies of the pornography that they pulled off Father Ratigan’s computer in December 2010, and they possessed that for six months before turning it over to law enforcement authorities.”“They also distributed it to different people along the way.”
The lawsuit cites Masha’s Law, a federal law enacted in 2006 that gives child-pornography victims the right to sue anyone who produces, downloads, distributes or possesses sexually explicit images of them.
The law was named after a girl from Russia who was adopted at age 5 by a man who sexually abused her and made recordings of it.
Victims can recover damages of no less than $150,000.

Randles told The Star that she also had been contacted by six members of St. Patrick Catholic Church in Kansas City, North, who allege that their children are victims of Ratigan. He was at St. Patrick from July 2009 to December 2010.

Police have said they had contacted families at the church in an attempt to identify the girls in the photos. Lawyers in the case filed Thursday said that’s how their clients learned of the abuse.
The diocese on Thursday also asked for the public to help police with the case......

.....Finn is to meet with members of St. Thomas More parish in south Kansas City at 7 p.m. today.On Wednesday a review board established years ago by the diocese to assess sexual abuse allegations met privately for two hours and came up with a recommendation to deal with cases such as Ratigan’s.
Review board chairman Jim Caccamo and a diocesan spokeswoman said it would be up to the bishop whether to discuss the content of the proposal. (Uhhm, what have they been doing all these years?)

Thursday night dozens gathered at the Kansas City, North, Community Center to discuss the Ratigan case at a meeting organized by the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.
The meeting was closed to the media “out of consideration for the privacy and feelings of parishioners,” SNAP leaders said. Organizers said there was a standing-room-only crowd.

“It’s packed,” said Judy Jones, SNAP’s Midwest associate director. “As you can imagine, things are pretty tense in there. People are very upset. Almost everyone is angry at the church officials.”
Stephanie Gunn, of St. Thomas More parish, said she was “sick and fed up of the whole situation.”
“I came here because I’m devastated,” she said. “I’m embarrassed, and I am so angry at the religious leaders of the Catholic Church. … They have put children’s lives in danger. They knew it, and they tried to sweep it under the covers like they have in the past.

“It’s not going to work this time. There are too many people who are fired up, and we intend to go as far as we can to remove these people from the diocese office.”
Gunn said numerous people talked about wanting the bishop to step down.
“They’re sick of it,” she said. “They’re not willing to listen to any more excuses.”

I see a number of things that make this Kansas City case more immediate and anger inducing for practicing Catholics.  First, Finn made an issue of his orthodoxy and piety.  He used these aspects of his pastoral approach to burnish his credentials and brow beat his flock.  Guess what, he's as big a fraud as any so called progressive liberal.  Secondly, this case is acting out in the heartland of America--where these things don't happen.  This one is not happening on either of the 'left' coasts.  Guess what, the myth of the right and proper heartland is just that--a myth.  Oh and while were are on myths, perhaps we can begin to see the problem of child sexual abuse as an equal opportunity exploiter--an issue of abuse of power and not sexual orientation.  After all,  Ratigan's alleged targets were young girls.  This situation is exploding a lot of myths used to delude the average Catholic.

There is hope in all the myths being exploded in Kansas City.  Laity who might have swallowed some of these myths whole are now not swallowing anything.  They are finally choking on them.  As the one woman interviewed in the above article states: "It's not going to work this time."  Finally.  Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.  Fool me four and five times--what the hell is wrong with us?  Good question.  An important question.  It's a question whose real answer is wrapped up in traditional Catholic Identity. The clerical caste are not little gods.  They are flawed human beings, as equally flawed as any laity.  I just  hope there is enough anger for laity to finally process that fact and get past all the conditioning that is designed to prompt us to ignore these truths.
With Pentecost coming up I have been perusing the Acts of the Apostles.  Peter is not infallible by a long shot.  One of the things that has struck me is the Acts describe Peter as under going a sort of post Pentecostal  learning curve. He is always learning, always being forced to re evaluate his thinking and belief structure.  Perhaps this is one lesson we can take from the past few months.  Catholicism, like it's first leader, needs to continually undergo a learning process and re evaluate thought and belief structures. To pretend other wise is a straight road to all kinds of abuse.  Peter survived his learning curve, and the whole Church can survive this learning curve as well.  But not if it's clergy refuses the lessons.

This link will take you to Bishop Finn's official excuses letter.  



  1. 1. Remember, the purpose of the cappa magna has always been to cover the horse's ass.

    2. Thank you for your input on this event. I remain shocked (and I mean that) that the Finn story is not a national headline, that the conservative Catholics see it as just a mistake and a shame. Did anyone ask him to step down? To his face? I certainly hope so. How many bishops, placing themselves above the faith as well as the faithful, does it take before there is a true outcry? And even with that, the outcry in Boston led to the reshuffling of Law, not the loss of his faculties and place at the Vatican trough. I wish I had an answer to give, a direction to turn beyond blind trust in the Spirit.

  2. Colleen -
    Background reading. Presumably driven by piety, Finn wrote a 21-page, very detailed pastoral letter to the whole diocese and all people of good will four years ago (2/21/07):
    "Blessed Are the Pure In Heart - A Pastoral Letter on the Dignity of the Human Person and the Dangers of Pornography"
    Associating the letter with his actions and inactions of the past year may complicate thinking about him.

  3. "Next Christmas perhaps it will be sack cloth and ashes."

    This was the best laugh I've had in quite a while!!!!

  4. mjc, I hope conservative Catholics begin to understand the clerical abuse cover up has nothing to do with ideology and everything to do with a failed abusive clerical system. That's why I think the Finn case is so important, and no, I'm not surprised the mainstream press hasn't picked up on it much. You can bet they heard from the USCCB the minute this broke. Especially given it broke one day after the release of the John Jay report.

    Jack I although I haven't read the whole missive, I have read excerpts of it. At the time I was actually impressed that some bishop somewhere had taken on pornography. I have written on this issue a number of times in the last four or five years.

    Now I think Finn's letter is just one more example of teaching for the laity that doesn't extend to the clergy.

  5. Oh, my my my and these were the guys that decided not to find fault with each other-- just blame the priests that got caught and dump all the homosexual clerics as the perpetrators. The only way to stop them is to force them out. Perhaps there will be enough outrage in KC to force him out and not accept another Bihsop that is not acceptible to the KC laity and priests. Put Finn and his ilk in jail, do not accept any papal appointee, consecrate someone Bishop of KC after a throuogh search by a search committee of prominatn laity with a prominant priest.

    Tell the "infalible" Roman Emperor a flat NO we will not do it your way. dennis

  6. "First and foremost, the diocese is deeply concerned for the well-being of this child and her family,” the statement said. “The bishop has reached out to a number of parishes and offered listening sessions.”...

    How many times, after the fact of being found out, have diocese said how "deeply concerned" they are??? This, after the DAMAGE is done to "this child and her family." Finn, in my opinion, is as rotten as it gets. I will gladly donate for some sackcloth for him to wear a cappa magna made of sackcloth and sooner than Christmas!! He should wear it in JAIL.


  7. Exactly Butterfly. How many times will they drag out after the fact apologies for committing the exact same mistake? It's like hearing the same old childhood adage--"I did it accidently on purpose."

  8. It reminds me of some little children who, on first being introduced to the concept of saying "I'm sorry" for what they did, use it as a general license to do whatever they please as long as they say "I'm sorry" afterwards. (Maybe confession is subject to the same misinterpretation.) Mothers usually straighten out the little ones fairly promptly. Who advises the bishops?

  9. Bishop Finn should go to JAIL for reckless child endangerment and aiding and abetting a known pedophile, along with Vicar Murphy and anyone else that knew.

    Catholics are much too soft on child rape. Law enforcement has to take over and throw the Bishop and all other complicit managers in jail.

    Imagine if this happened at a Chucky Cheese Restaurant. An employee had child porn pictures that he took of children inside Chucky Cheese. Management hid the pictures and allowed the employee further access to small children. Customers would boycott and have every manager thrown in jail, all the way up to the CEO.

    We can't expect the Catholic church to rise to the standards of Chucky Cheese, but they should at least have to follow the basic laws of humanity and the laws of the land.

  10. PatO, you so brilliantly and clearly have communicated the truth of what Finn and all the Bishops and on up into the leadership in the Vatican MUST do in response to sexually violating children or anyone. They are NOT ABOVE THE LAWS that everyone else needs to OBEY.


  11. This is even further proof that the Roman Catholic Church left spirituality a long time ago, in favor of economic and political position in the world. The Spirit that spoke to men and women in the first century has been completely obscured by this narcissistic institution. Chaput is just another in the succession of "wolves in sheep's clothing." Anyone who can't see that has obviously been drinking too much Kool-Aid!

  12. This is even further proof that the Roman Catholic Church left spirituality a long time ago, in favor of economic and political position in the world. The Spirit that spoke to men and women in the first century has been completely obscured by this narcissistic institution. Chaput is just another in the succession of "wolves in sheep's clothing." Anyone who can't see that has obviously been drinking too much Kool-Aid!

  13. I Was Gang Raped, By Priests Clergy and Bishops of The Denver Diocese, Then in 1981 was St Mary's Cathedral in Colorado Springs Colorado.
    That was Before the Colorado Springs DIOCESE Took over. I Imagine a few of the Staff Remained there.
    A Life Changing Event.
    Be Cautious. Do Not Leave your Children there Alone with out a Female Supervisor.