|No word from Cardinal Dolan about Bishop Finn's guilty finding, and no word from Cardinal Dolan on Fr Groeschel's spewing too much honesty. Funny, since Dolan has collaborated with both of them. "Et tu Tim?"|
I've been following the Fr Groeschel and Bishop Finn stories and have to say I have been truly saddened by the underlying implications. Too many of our clerical leadership still do not get clerical sexual abuse, but even sadder, seem incapable of processing clerical sexual abuse because they themselves are clerics. And the other implication from these two stories is the more orthodox the clerical leader, the less their ability to rationally deal with clerical sexual abusers.
I don't honestly know if this apparent lack of rationality is intentional, in order to protect the priesthood, or if it's truly from being blinded by their own priesthood. Here's a quote from Bishop Finn to a gathering of his diocesan priests that illustrates the 'blinded by their own priesthood' kind of thinking. It's taken from Laurie Woodstein's article in the NY Times;
"After Father Ratigan was arrested, Bishop Finn met with his priests. Asked why Father Ratigan was not removed earlier, the bishop replied, according to the testimony, that he had wanted “to save Father Ratigan’s priesthood” and that he had understood that Father Ratigan’s problem was “only pornography."
There are two things in the above quote which I find particularly striking. The first is Finn's admitted desire to 'save Father Ratigan's priesthood" and the second is Finn describing Ratigan's problem as "only pornography".
The first is the sentiment of someone who put the man's priesthood ahead of the man's needs. After all, Ratigan did immediately attempt suicide once Finn's vicar, Robert Murphy confronted him. Rather than send Ratigan to a local psychiatrist, Finn sent him to an out of state psychiatrist affiliated with Opus Bono Sarcedotti. OPB is yet another Tom Monaghan/Legatus funded right wing organization. One of the reasons for it's existence, other than functioning as sort of a job placement agency for accused priests, is to defend priests from false allegations. The psychiatrist, Richard Fitzgibbons, returned Ratigan back to Finn after a 48 hour stay with a report that Ratigan suffered from depression and was most likely a victim of unfounded harassment from school principle Julie Hess. Poor Fr Ratigan was not any sort of pedophile or clerical abuser. Since Ratigan has subsequently pleaded guilty to federal counts of pornographic production and was placed on a suicide watch, it seems Dr Fitzgibbons let his agenda blind him to the real needs of his suicidal patient. Exactly like Bishop Finn couldn't see past Ratigan's dog collar to deal with the real severely hurting human behind the collar. For both men it was about 'saving Ratigan's priesthood', and not his life. I didn't write that last sentence to make a victim out of Ratigan, but to illustrate the point that if Bishops like Finn can't even see the human need in their own priests, why in the world would we ever expect them to identify with the victims of those priests?
The second thing which I find striking is the 'only pornography' statement. This is coming from the same man who wrote a 2007 pastoral letter on the insidious and soul destroying effects of pornography. I don't get the implications of his observation it's 'only pornography' in regards to Ratigan. Does he not write his own pastoral letters? If he does write those letters, does he not really believe what he writes? Or is it that he believes pornography doesn't have the same soul destroying effects on the more ontologically gifted cleric?
On to Fr Groeschel. This story has generated enough print that one more story from me is hardly necessary, but I do have one point to stress. The observations Fr Groeschel made to the National Catholic Register are the exact observations he has consistently made since the abuse crisis exploded in 2002. In stories which report on his therapeutic work with offending priests he gave some of them the exact same excuses that Richard Fitzgibbons gave Shawn Ratigan: depression and alcoholism. These priests were victims of other issues rather than being pedophiles or abusers. Groeschel most certainly blamed at least one victim for colluding in their abuse. Groeschel also advocated the same line as Bill Donohue that the press was 98% wrong and pushing the abuse story out of anti Catholic animus.
The connection between Bishop Finn and Fr Groeschel is the same connection they have with many other self described orthodox priests, bishops, and cardinals. The reputation of the Church and the preservation of their own offices comes first, and these two self identifying marks are so closely intertwined, these men can't separate one from the other. In other words, a media expose on the Church becomes a personal attack on Fr Groeschel, and a media expose of Bishop Finn is twisted into an attack on the Church. In addition both of these men share the same lay enablers-- Tom Monaghan and Bill Donohue--who have taken on the crusade to see that this same confusion also exists in the minds of orthodox laity.
Unfortunately all this accomplishes is to keep the Church from moving forward, victims from healing, and pretty much assures the same abuses and cover ups will continue. After 10+ years of relentless exposure there is one big difference. Neither the Bishop Finn's of the Catholic world, nor the Fr Groeschel's of the Catholic world get a free pass from laity or secular authorities. They are finally accountable to forces outside their own egos.