Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Unjust Removal of Bp. Finn

We've all heard the "story" on Bp. Finn of Kansas City:  he tolerated a porn/pedophile.  Thus, he was canned by the Vatican.

But that's not the whole story.

Donohue explained that, “In 2010, a computer technician found disturbing crotch-shot photos of girls fully clothed on [Fr.] Ratigan’s computer; there was one naked photo of a non-sexual nature. Even though there was no complainant, a police officer and an attorney were contacted by diocesan officials.

They both agreed that the single naked photo did not constitute pornography. After Ratigan attempted suicide, he was evaluated by a psychiatrist – at the request of Finn. Ratigan was diagnosed as depressed, but was not a pedophile. Finn put restrictions on Ratigan, which he broke. 

The diocese then contacted the authorities, though it had no legal mandate to do so. Finn ordered an independent investigation, even though there was no complainant. When it was found that Ratigan was again using a computer, an examination revealed hundreds of offensive photos. The vicar general, Msgr. Robert Murphy, then called the cops (Finn was out of town). A week later Ratigan was arrested.” 

The article also explained that since assuming leadership in Kansas City-St. Joseph in 2005, the bishop “has been the subject of vitriol for undertaking efforts to refocus the diocese’s direction in union with the Church…Shortly after his arrival, a local newspaper circulated a derisive eight-page issue focused entirely on biasing the faithful against the bishop...”

Doesn't look like what you thought you knew, eh?


Terrence Berres said...

I not only thought I knew but still know the Bishop was convicted of a crime arising out of this situation. Are you saying he was innocent?

Dad29 said...


What I'm saying is what was printed above.

Are you saying that the removal was based on a canonical trial?

Dad29 said...

Sorry--did not publish the MacRae comment, was not germane here

Terrence Berres said...


By quoting the above are you saying that he was innocent?

Dad29 said...

No. By quoting the above I am demonstrating that the Bishop acted in good faith--and was pro-active--in those instances.

Are you trying to say that the criminal justice system's adjudication contradicts any of my quote?

Terrence Berres said...

Assuming what you quote is factually accurate, how does that say anything beyond that there were some aspects of his handling of his matter that were not criminal?

In any event, if you are not trying to show he was wrongfully convicted, what is "unjust" about his "removal" as bishop?

Dad29 said...

That is my opinion. And--by the way--I never take for granted a civil conviction's accuracy. The legal infrastructure in this country is no longer credible.

Terrence Berres said...

My question, though, is what, in the quoted material, provides you with a basis for your opinion.

The timeline of the case at Crux says "December 2010 ... Finn sends him [Fr. Ratigan] to Pennsylvania for a mental evaluation but does not inform state of possible child sexual abuse, as required by law."

Even in your chronology, the diocese later contacts the authorities, even though it appears this was based on Ratigan doing again what they failed to report him for earlier.

Dad29 said...

First paragraph:

In 2010, a computer technician found disturbing crotch-shot photos of girls fully clothed on [Fr.] Ratigan’s computer; there was one naked photo of a non-sexual nature. Even though there was no complainant, a police officer and an attorney were contacted by diocesan officials.

Looks a helluvalot like the cops WERE contacted before the perp went to the nuthatch.

Terrence Berres said...

Perhaps your source tried to make it seem that was the case. But if Steve Skojec's review of the matter, at One Peter Five, is correct, what your quote refers to would not qualify as a required report. "The police officer attached to the IRB told Murphy the photo described to him over the phone would not classify as pornographic, despite depicting child nudity. (This seems not to have been his fault, since he was asked a hypothetical question rather than asked to examine the actual evidence)."

Dad29 said...

So what?

It's not the Diocese's job to MAKE the cop think it's porn. It's the COP'S job to investigate.

He didn't do his job.

Are you saying that the failure of the cop-shop is cause for removal of Finn?

Terrence Berres said...

It's the job of the police to investigate when they receive a report. It was the job of Bishop Finn and his staff to make a report. Posing a hypothetical is not making a report. Rather it seems to be looking for a reason not to. Reporting subsequently when the priest in question repeats the misconduct indicates they should have known to report it in the first instance.

Are you asserting that failure to comply with mandatory reporting of suspected sexual abuse of children isn't grounds for removing a bishop? Or are you asserting that it is grounds for removal but Bishop Finn and his staff did not fail to comply?

Dad29 said...

I am asserting th4 latter--with the caveat that I still believe the cop should have acted--motu proprio--if he thought there was a problem.

You assert that the Diocesan act was 'posing a hypothetical.' I maintain that--even if that is so--the cop had a duty to act on what HE thinks is/is not porn.

Terrence Berres said...

It's at least possible for a word, like "sex" or "is" or "report", to be ambiguous in a particular context. For someone subject to mandatory reporting, though, it seems to me that to report means to inform the authorities of the facts, not to use those facts to pose a hypothetical question. In the context of child sexual abuse, I recall our bishops made what sounded like a commitment to be particularly forthright, assuming no unusual meanings of what words they used turn out to be intended.

But if this is what the defense turns on, I see no more injuctice in Bishop Finn being unable to continue as head of a diocese than I see in Bill Clinton being unable to practice law.

Dad29 said...

Everybody has an opinion.