K.C.'s Bishop Finn Indicted

The New York Times is reporting that Kansas City Bishop Robert Finn, "and the diocese he leads" have been indicted by a county grand jury on a charge of failure to report suspected child abuse in the case of a priest who had been accused of taking lewd photographs of young girls. 

The Times reports: "The indictment is the first ever of a Catholic bishop in the 25 years since the scandal over sexual abuse by priests first became public in the United States. Bishop Finn is accused of covering up abuse that occurred as recently as last year — almost 10 years since the nation’s Catholic bishops passed a charter pledging to report suspected abusers to law enforcement authorities."


Read more here.

CNS reports that Bishop Finn and the diocese entered please of not guilty to the misdemeanor charges.

From CNS:

The charges, brought by the Jackson County prosecutor in relation to the diocese's handling of the case of Father Shawn Ratigan, were acknowledged in an Oct. 14 statement on the diocesan website.

"Bishop Finn denies any criminal wrongdoing and has cooperated at all stages with law enforcement, the grand jury, the prosecutor's office" and the independent commission appoint by the diocese to study the matter, said Gerald Handley, the bishop's attorney. "We will continue our efforts to resolve this matter."

Father Ratigan was arrested in May on state charges of possessing child pornography. In August, federal prosecutors charged him with producing child pornography. The priest, a former pastor, also is facing accusations made against him in two separate lawsuits filed this summer.

The Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph and Bishop Finn also have been named in the civil suits, which accuse both of failing to keep Father Ratigan away from children apparently after learning disturbing images were found on the priest's computer and being warned of the priest's inappropriate behavior around children.

In early September, an independent report commissioned by the diocese to examine its policies and procedures on assessing child sexual abuse allegations found "shortcomings, inaction and confusing procedures."

The report also said that "diocesan leaders failed to follow their own policies and procedures for responding to reports" relating to abuse claims.

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Anne Chapman
6 years ago
Every time I think that nothing can shock me anymore in terms of the totally immoral and amoral behavior of too many members of the hierarchy (I am not a bit shocked that Finn again chose to protect the priest and tossed the children to the wolves - it seems to be ingrained in the Catholic hierarchy to take the expedient path instead of the moral path), something new shocks me. This time it is the attitude towards these criminal coverups held by some, expressed here by David Smith.

It seems that the sickness that has infected the church's hierarchy all the way up to Rome may be spreading to some lay members of the church also.  Are some of them now so inured to the evil enabled by the hierarchy that they too are also losing all sense of right and wrong? Have they lost an understanding of sin?  Do all criminals who wear a clerical collar or a mitre get a pass when they break laws and when their sins cause serious harm to others, including children?  Have some members of the church forgotten about God? Is it all about the institution to them?  What kind of moral example have these men in the hierarchy provided - it seems to be bearing rotten fruit, spreading the amorality too often found in the chanceries and Rome to the people in the pews also.

Will Benedict again sit on his hands? It seems he only forces bishops to resign if they have the temerity to suggest that the church re-examine its denial of a sacrament to women. To him, even talking about according women their rights to access to all of the sacraments as members of Christ's church is a heinous sin. 

Bishops who protect the worst kind of criminal are rewarded by this pope as they were by his predecessor. 

Is something rotten in the state of Denmark?  Maybe that question should be asked about Rome.
Bill Mazzella
6 years ago
The bishop who refused the gifts of God to others is now being judged by the state. The person who stressed one issue is finding that there are indeed other issues. Most of all that a bishop is not a law unto himself. Something that has been true since the fourth century. This watershed action by the state will hopefully send a message to the arrogant bishops that the law applys to them too. This action sure makes clear that the bishop botched the biggest mandate of all-taking care of the little children.
Bill Freeman
6 years ago
This is a very hopeful sign.  I have felt for a long time that not until bishops were held personally, and criminally accountable would they take their responsibilities to protect children seriously.  Now, I am sure that others will call this oppression of the church.  The real victims are the victims.

Carolyn Disco
6 years ago
Bishops need to be reminded that, ''The real victims are the victims.'' Thank you, Bill F.

In many bishops' deluded senses of themselves, they are the victims, and have said so plainly; namely William Murphy of Rockville Center, and John McCormack, of NH, formerly Boston. Mary Gail Frawley's book, Perversion of Power, goes into the enlightening details.

Clerical narcissism thrives.

McCormack told several of our group that the scandal is the ''Passion of the Church'' and he is a victim. The gall of it.
Gerald Handley, the bishop's (Finn's) attorney says, ''We will continue our efforts to resolve this matter.'' A plea deal, perhaps? Never!

Let's see how Finn's lawyers maneuver to get him off. Maybe the commonplace courtroom evasions and diversions that strain the gnats of liability to inanity? Look for the hierarchy to fight conviction with every tactic possible, whether parsing/twisting the truth beyond recognition or not.

Finn should plead guilty, owning up to criminal failure to report, dare I say it, like a man (of God). 

Bill Taylor
6 years ago
I was doing some research about jus post bellum-establishing justice and peace after the war is over, and some of the conclusions there seem to apply to the sex abuse scandal.  One point, made over and over, is that the guilty have to admit their guilt and face punishment.   The bishops who moved priests around, including my own bishop, should have the courage and faith to admit the role they played and resign. 
Carolyn Disco
6 years ago
No, David Smith, it's called justice when bishops are held accountable for criminal conduct. Being a bishop is finally not placing someone above the law.
david power
6 years ago


Then-Father Finn was named by Blessed Pope John Paul II a Chaplain to His Holiness in August 2003, upon the recommendation of the then-Archbishop of St. Louis, Justin Francis Rigali, later the Cardinal Archbishop of Philadelphia, who had named him to the posts he was then exercising (the honor was bestowed while he was still serving as CFP Director and editor of the St. Louis Review; Father Finn received the title of Reverend Monsignor). 

Looking at the company he keeps is it any wonder he thought covering up was the best option?. 
david power
6 years ago

Are you serious?.
Would you have covered up?.Do you think pedophile Priests should just bemoved from Parish to Parish?. I am baffled by your attitudes to child protection.Not even Law  or Castrillon Hoyos or Magee have shown the same contempt for truth   that you do on America.
You take the "practical" approach on this subject.You state that it is usually the best option and that it is a gamble they have to take.In this case it contravenes Church law itself.You were mighty shocked when Obama had OBL and a few of his buddies taken out because you saw it as immoral and against the constitution.When a bishop flouts the guidelines of the church you say "smart move".  
What bewilders me is why Bishop Finn did it.Why on earth  would he do that?.The best thing for the Church now would be a six moth sentence for him and a letter from the Pope to the USCCB urging all bishops to make a pilgrimage to that prison and whilst there to chant for a few hours "the victims are the victims".      
Molly Roach
6 years ago
David Smith you are defending the right of bishops to cover up the sexual abuse of children.  
Brian Weaver
6 years ago
David Smith, are you kidding!!!
I am speechless. 
Christ said ''You shall know they are mine by the fruit of their labor.'' I don't think deception and coverup is included. 
You have given a good description for ''whitewashed sepulchers'' which fits Finn perfectly and bishops guilty of coverup.  And this is the SECOND time around for that diocese!
Finn states he accepts full responsibility, ok then resign.
Next on the indictment list: Rigali
Jane Hodges
6 years ago
It will be interesting to see what will happen when this Opus Dei bishop's case reaches the Opus Dei Supreme Court.

6 years ago
David Smith? This is only the latest inane comment from him!
6 years ago
I strongly agree with Mr. Sullivan on David Smith's coments.
It is indeed true we have overcrowded prisons and that we tend to oveerincarcerate victimless crime perpetrators.
But abuse of children and its inabling is not victimless!
I'd just like to add my wife' coment on the news yesterday baout this""They should hav eindicted Law long ago!"
Carolyn Disco
6 years ago
David Smith's comments are indeed offensive, with one hurtful thrust after another. 

Seemingly, the point is to ''deliberately sting with the prick of a needle for his own enjoyment,'' as Norman Costa so aptly puts it. Reminds me of programs about the conduct of bullies.

Time to absent myself again from such sources of what passes for meaningful dialogue. Life is too short.
Robert Dean
6 years ago
I do honestly think that "David Smith" is merely acting as a provocateur to get things stirred up. Some of his other posts on other topics also lead me to speculate this. Perhaps he's best ignored.
Bill Mazzella
6 years ago
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness [or justice]; they shall be filled

Blessed indeed are the members of this blog who stand up for the children.
John Barbieri
6 years ago
Finn is a disgrace!
Why hasn't he resigned?
Why hasn't the Vatican removed him?
Is Law somehow involved in this?
If he won't leave, is he actually planing to run ''his'' diocese from jail?
Does he really think that people are so foolish that they do not recognize that his ''campaign'' for the diocese is nothing but a scam to pay his legal bills?
Is he really a part of ''Opus Dei?''
Why does ''Opus Dei''- like the ''Legionnaires of Christ'' - appear to be a cancer growing on the church? 

david power
6 years ago

David ,

I was the first to criticize and did not intend it to turn into a general attack on you.Most of the other commentators seem to have a very poor opinion of you.I generally do not but when it comes to the sexual abuse you would make Caligula blush.
What you wrote in the last posting has of course a certain truth to it but.....C'mon man .Gimme a break.Anybody here who went through the process of what you described would have the issue resolved within a week.
If I found such images on my brother's laptop there would be a confrontation and if I was not convinced of his innocence (what the hell is he doing with images like that on his laptop?) I would call the Police within 15 minutes.Why?Because I am a great guy with an incredible sense of right and wrong?No, I would outsin the best of em but the idea that my brother was not a threat to kids and my non-action would amount to complicity is 1+1 my friend.    
The entire conflict that you propose is as ridiculous as a bishop not knowing how to advise a woman on an abortion,"God, so many complexities whats a bishop to do?".The rules are clear.Archbishop "please call me Tim" Dolan is always blowing his trumpet about how safe the Church is these days and how much work they have done.What happened, did Finn's server crash?Is Kansas completely cut off from civilization and he doesn't know what to do?
David ,please just write that you were wrong and that  you understand that the raping of kids is wrong and disgusting and the cover-up is as bad.If you write that it would be in the interests to drop the whole issue.      
david power
6 years ago
I should have written in the interests of everyone.
Crystal Watson
6 years ago
The idea that the  bishop is the dad of his priest and shouldn't turn him in (based, I suppose, on Thomas Aquinas' idea that a parent isn't required to turn in his criminal child to authroities) is really repellent.  We're all part of the human family and we owe it to each other to keep further crimes from being pertetrated.  To owe loyalty only to your organization and not to the greater public, especially in the case of ciminal acts, makes the church no better than the mafia.  Doesn't the bishop owe loyalty to the children in his flock?
Bill Freeman
6 years ago
Since my original post, I have read some incredible subsequent posts.  Let’s be clear, the route cause of the priest/bishop sex-abuse scandal is clericalism.  That is, the cultural belief that personality boundaries between individuals do not apply to those in the clerical state.  The criminal conspiracy of bishops in not reporting pedophile priests is the flip side of clericalism. 
It’s the underlying mental construct of clericalism that alarms me the most.  This is the same construct that for the past three decades has done everything possible to undermined the priesthood of the laity so beautiful expressed by the 2nd Vatican Council or in the church’s current attack on the sacrosanct nature of individual conscience.
Why don’t we consider that this worldwide scandal and the inability of the hierarchy to “get it” is a message – loud and clear – that the current Roman expression of Catholicism is found wanting? 
6 years ago
Mr Costa, you are spot on with regard to david smith. He is much like antonio scalia`s prickly personality, just not as artful.
Jack Barry
6 years ago
Norman  -  You're absolutely right, again.

All comments are voluntary.  Yet, the amount of potentially fertile discussion  -  pro, con, and superbly tangential  -  that is diverted in response to factlacking inanities is regrettable.   See above.

In ancient times when the Net was new, one handy invention was the kill file.   It worked something like a black hole.  Certain identifiable communications automatically disappeared into it and were never seen again.  Obviously, in today's well-mannered, cordial Web, such a  device would be judged uncivil, but perhaps a virtual equivalent could be implemented by subliminal consensus among those who may agree on only one thing, namely, enough is enough.  Let the wind blow, and ignore it.  The sincerity isn't faked well enough to be persuasive.  
mike kennedy
6 years ago
Do we really know what Bishop Finn has done? The story says that his offense is failure to report a crime. So we want throw the Bishop under the bus because he failed to throw someone else under the bus. Do we know we know whether the Bishop had taken any disciplinary action against the allegedly errant priest? Do we report all crimes that we see? Drugs in our kid's room.Domestic violence. A street fight. Some poor SOB lying on the street passed out from God only knows what. Do we want to be criminally prosecuted for our failure to report? 
What about the victim? Did the pornography portray real humans or was it computer generated?
We slam our Church leaders for their botched handling of the sex abuse crisis. Fair enough. But let's not get carried away and perhaps create more disorder by our overzealousness.   
mike kennedy
6 years ago
Do we really know what Bishop Finn has done? The story says that his offense is failure to report a crime. So we want throw the Bishop under the bus because he failed to throw someone else under the bus. Do we know we know whether the Bishop had taken any disciplinary action against the allegedly errant priest? Do we report all crimes that we see? Drugs in our kid's room.Domestic violence. A street fight. Some poor SOB lying on the street passed out from God only knows what. Do we want to be criminally prosecuted for our failure to report? 
What about the victim? Did the pornography portray real humans or was it computer generated?
We slam our Church leaders for their botched handling of the sex abuse crisis. Fair enough. But let's not get carried away and perhaps create more disorder by our overzealousness.   
david power
6 years ago

I am not sure if you have access to all of the previous comments on here but I would guess that you do not.If you did you would see that what you wrote is nonsense a la Smith.You see there is a thing called a Dallas Charter which has rules for how to conduct oneself when faced with just such a thing as Bishop Finn was .
You make all of these examples of other crimes but fail to see the obvious.We are not discussing them. We are discussing Bishop Finn and his failure to do what the USCCB promised every bishop would do in future.Real humans or computer generated?Are you for real man.If some sicko is watching that in cartoon form he should still be removed from any post involving children.I hope to God that anybody who disagrees with me is not in any such role.
"Create more disorder by our overzealousness", what on earth do you mean by that?.
You think that maybe people are getting carried away with how serious child rape is.
It is a pity that you "Mike" have responded and not David Smith.Either way you both have the exact same outlook and is either "trolling" as Norm says or else seriously something is wrong with you. 
Liam Richardson
6 years ago
David's sentiments on this matter come from a notion: the "family" trumps "society". While I understand there can be virtues in that notion, and that the notion that "society" trumps "family" is not without its vices, as it were, in this specific context, we know that the "family" trumping "society" model is far far too prone to abuse and self-rationalization. This is because it occurs in the context of a closed, opaque system, rather than a more transparent system. So it's much more rife with opportunities for uncorrectable cognitive bias, made all the worse for the trappingg of religiosity and piety.

In order for the family trumping society model to regain credibility in this context, the family must become far more transparent and self-abnegating than it has yet shown itself inclined to become.

Until that time, authority used by the family will continue to corrode for lack of that credibility. And David's efforts to defend it only exacerbate the problem for their blinkeredness. 
Crystal Watson
6 years ago

The Washinton Post story (http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/on-faith/us-bishop-charged-for-sheltering-abusive-clergyman-not-bringing-priests-found-porn-to-police/2011/10/15/gIQApjIalL_story.html) states ...

'Last December, a computer technician found on Ratigan’s laptop hundreds of what he called “disturbing” images of children, most of them fully clothed with the focus on their crotch areas, and a series of pictures of a 2- to 3-year-old girl with her genitals exposed.'

Another story said many of the photos were taken around the church.
Carolyn Disco
6 years ago
For the clarifying details, see conservative Rod Dreher's superb coverage, Why Bishop Finn deserves indictment:

Ms.  Creech  then  found  a  file  marked  “ – - – - – -.”    Opening  it,  she  found  a  group  of  “staged”  photos  of  a  very  young  girl  who  appeared  to  be  two  to  three years old. The first  photo  showed  a  little  girl,  face  visible,  standing  and  holding  a  blanket.    In  a  “staged sequence,”  the  photos  depicted  the  girl  lying  down  in  a  bed,  from  the  waist  down,  and
focused  on  the  crotch.   The  girl was wearing only  a  diaper,  but with each photo, the diaper was  moved  gradually  to  expose  her  genitals.    By  the  last  photo,  her  genitals  were  fully exposed.  

According to Ms. Creech, there were approximately six to eight pictures in this sequence  of  photos;  two  displayed  fully  exposed  genitals  and  one  displayed  her  fully exposed buttocks.  The little girl’s face was not visible in the  staged  sequence,  but  due  to her  apparent  physical  size  and  the  fact  the  photos  were  in  the  same  file,  Ms.  Creech
assumed the photos were of the same little girl whose face appeared in the initial 

Reactions from parents in KC:

 “The  images  of  my  daughter’s  private  areas  that  the  FBI  showed  me,  they  are forever  burned  into  my  brain.  …  Shawn  Ratigan  was  in  my  house,  around  my children in February, and I thought my children were completely SAFE!!”
“You  let  one  of  your  priests  hurt  my  children  and  you  saw  the  pictures  and
decided to cover it up.  That monster was in my house in February 11’ to prey on
my children and I let him in, since you felt you were above the law and made that
decision not to turn in photos of my kids.”
As part of an earlier settlement with survivors, Finn had even written a pastoral letter on pornography, http://www.diocese-kcsj.org/_docs/Pastoral-02-07.pdf

It was highly praised by Chaput, now of Phila: “Bishop Finn’s excellent pastoral letter …. has a wealth of good information about the scope of pornography, the damage it does and many practical tips to fighting it in our homes.” 

Thanks to Commonweal bloggers for the research.
david power
6 years ago

What you just printed was the most disturbing thing I have read in many years.
Archbishop Chaput gave a nice opening homily in his first Mass in Philly and he did not make a point of praising his predeccesor.
We can imagine that Chaput ,Rigali and Finn  have sat down to dinner together.In his homily Chaput spoke of restoring trust.Operative word here is "spoke".
A few months ago Archbishop Dolan spoke of wanting to punch a layman who looked on him as one who would cover up for pedophiles.
I wonder does he have any desire to punch Bishop Finn?Will even one bishop come out and publicly "fraternally correct" him?They correct politicians enough so why not their own?
This problem is a lot deeper than any of us can imagine.We find out about the likes of Ratigan but that was pure fluke.How many priests are currently prying and waiting to pounce on kids?.  
How many bishops are "speaking" of the horrors of pedophilia and secretly hiding pedophile priests?
BTW, I noticed that David Smith never came back and said "Yes, sexual abuse of kids is wrong and disgusting" #22. 


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