On Thursday, Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas-City/St Joseph was found guilty of failing to tell police about Shawn Ratigan, a priest suspected of sexually exploiting children after Bishop Finn has full knowledge of pornographic pictures found on Fr. Ratigan’s computer, some which he had taken himself.
What’s next for Bishop Finn? I would suggest an apology and a resignation. It would be impossible for him to lead the diocese at this juncture. Sadly, this is another black eye on the church as Bishop Finn openly violated the Dallas Charter. Earlier in this case when asked why they had not come forward, a diocesan spokesperson reported that they are only required to report cases of sexual abuse, not pornography. In my opinion, that’s just one more example of some in the church living by the letter, rather than the spirit of the law, civil or otherwise. While technically, the spokesperson may be correct, common sense also should tell them that the only proper thing to do would have been to report Ratigan immediately.
One would think that a Bishop would know better. But apparently, Finn did all he could to deny that any wrongdoing was going on.
From the Washington Post:
Finn’s statement after his conviction carefully pointed to inadequate diocesan “process and procedures” as the reason that Ratigan was not reported to police, and his expression of regret was for policy failures and “for the hurt that these events have caused.”
Until this week Finn had vigorously rejected the charges that he had done anything wrong, and had hired a high-priced defense team to make his case. The diocese revealed this week that Finn’s legal bills have cost the diocese and its insurers nearly $1.4 million over the past year, and that parishes will have to kick in more money to cover the outlays. Finn and the diocese still face numerous civil suits resulting from the case.
This is not going to end well. Kansas City/St Joseph was a model diocese before Finn’s arrival with much live and enthusiasm for the Catholic Church. I fear that much of that has eroded now.
It’s time for Bishop Finn to resign. That is the only way to healing and reconciliation.
It may be difficult to forgive someone like Bishop Finn and Fr. Ratigan, to be sure. But we are called to do this as Catholics. At the same time, justice is the only way that reconciliation can occur for the diocese. And with that in mind, Bishop Finn needs to take the first step in moving on and letting the diocese come to heal and more importantly call anyone who has been abused back home to receive and apology and a promise that justice for victims of abuse will happen. That will be the next Bishop’s first order of business.
Today, let’s pray for victims of abuse, for all of the children that Fr. Ratigan violated and for these two priests who will face justice for their crimes. Lastly, for the people of the diocese of Kansas City/St Joseph…
Know that we here at Googling God stand with you today.