You have probably seen news about the case of a priest in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph who had photos from different sources, some he took, of children.
Bp. Robert Finn is taking some heat about Fr. Ratigan, a bloke with some obvious issues. There are questions about how the priest was handled by the diocese.
Bp. Finn has made public statements, for example here. This statement has a lot of the facts of the case.
Leaving aside for a moment the issue of how the facts and concerns were reported to the bishop’s office and to the bishop himself, as I read in the news reports and statements from Bp. Finn and the diocese, a) in the first stage of inquiries made by the diocese the photos the priest had and which were given to the diocese did not arrive at the legal definition of child pornography and b) there were no victims of sexual abuse, c) while concerns were raised about Fr. Ratigan, he didn’t seem originally to have broken civil laws, d) only later were more photos discovered – previously unknown – which did, in fact, meet the definition of child pornography.
As I read it, the media is pressing that the policies and procedures of cases of sexual abuse of children, or possession of child pornography, were supposed to be applied, even before the priest had been found to have broken laws. As I read it, it is claimed that the bishop should have done something about this child-abusing child-pornography fiend, even before the priest was determined to have been either. They should have applied provisions before they knew they were to be applied.
If I am mistaken about that, I hope to be corrected. I think the priest right now is in jail for the pornography, but I don’t think he has actually been accused of child abuse.
That said, I think that once the diocese had received the information they did at first get, the diocese probably should have asked for a more thorough investigation. A lot depended, however, – I can’t believe I am writing this cliché – on what Bp. Finn knew and when he knew it. Sometimes that phrase actually is applied to men who are good a diligent! It seems that Bp. Finn was not shown everything that was presented to the diocese for consideration regarding this priest.
In any event, once all of the situation was revealed, the system kicked into action. The priest is now in jail and the diocese has obviously suspended him. It think it is pretty clear that this priest’s life is at present in a near total ruin.
A friend in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph with a fine blog, Serviam, has an interesting take on the situation building like a Missouri diocesan wall cloud.
More Double Standards From The Media
by RJS | 27th May 2011
I [RJS] recently posted this question in the comments section of a KC Star article dealing with the latest turn in the Fr. Ratigan case. As I don’t expect an intelligent response there, I thought I might ask the same question here. :-) [We've all seen the mindless and even demonic hatred of the Church and of Christianity and of anything Catholic in the comboxes of secular news sources.]
Someone help me understand something please. This reminds me of the “burn the witch” scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. What we have here is a priest who took pictures, likely downloaded others and obviously needs help. We have a diocesan office who did not do a good job of policing and following its established policies. However there are no allegations of abuse (which is what the policies were primarily designed to eliminate). [The policies, it seems, didn't quite fit a bloke like this.]
[NB] Meanwhile, statistics show that children are up to 100x more likely to be sexually abused in public schools. Yet there are no media circuses, no cries of “I’m leaving the public schools”, no calls for resignations, no “SNAT” (which is surprising since it would provide a much more consistent revenue stream) and more concerning – no published policy on abuse prevention on the NEA website, the KCMO School District site, the Shawnee Mission School District site or others.
Why the double standard? Or is it simply a back-handed compliment to the Catholic Church that it is expected to maintain a higher moral standard that was long-ago written off in our public schools?.
Please do say some prayers every day for the near future for Bp. Finn.
The media and, no doubt, the FIshwrap, are going to put him through the grinder for all manner of things imagined not to have been done properly.
Also, say a prayer for that priest, who has issues. Along the line he tried to commit suicide.
Don’t expect to see much reason applied during this media storm. I once heard Card. George make the comment that Americans are simultaneously hedonistic and puritanical.
Another thing… I know a lot of priests who are nearly terrified of being around children of any age. What a sad sad sad state of affairs.
Lastly, by all means discuss this also at SERVIAM.
UPDATE 28 May 1319 GMT:
In a comment below we read:
[W]hen is it incumbent upon the citizen who is reporting the facts to “ask” the police to carry out a more thorough investigation?
So, it seems easy to pass the buck to the bishop.
But if you as, say, a school administrator, suspect that someone is doing something wrong, should the first call be to the police (in countries where is still reasonable treatment of the Church by the state) and the second call be to the bishop? If, later, something were found to be truly wrong with that, for example, priest. wouldn’t the school administrator actually be the one to blame for the situation?