KC Star refuses to report other side regarding Bp. Finn and Diocese. Refuses even to take paid ad.

How deep can anti-Catholic bigotry run in the mainstream press?  Read on.

At Serviam I noticed this, in reference to the situation of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph and the embattled Bishop Robert Finn.

I’ve said previously that the [newspaper - Kansas City] Star had failed in its responsibility to accurately and fairly cover news concerning the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph and in particular, Bishop Finn.  I’ve worked in the media.  I’ve worked at the Star.  I know bias exists and that it is allowed to skew coverage.  But I never suspected it to be THIS bad. Now it seems that the Star has taken it to the next level.  It seems to be so committed to its liberal, anti-Catholic agenda that it won’t even allow a paid ad on its pages presenting the facts that the Star has failed to report.  The Catholic League offered $25,000 to the cash-strapped paper to run an ad.  In spite of the fact that The Star routinely sells full page ads locally for less than $5000, they refused the Catholic League’s $25,000 ad.  You can read the ad here.

Now the Star has failed two constituencies - the community and its shareholders who are bleeding money.  The community can do little other than find other news sources.  I imagine the McClatchy shareholders will be a little more vocal.

Go to The Catholic League here.  Read and get a little angry.

It might be time for priests in KC to walk around the block where the Star is housed chanting the maledictory psalms and sprinkling holy water.  Were they to use blessed salt, they might be hauled in.

Psalms 58 [I am not making this up.  It's really in the Psalter.]

To the choirmaster:
A Miktam of David, when Saul sent men to watch his house in order to kill him.

1 Do you indeed decree what is right, you gods? Do you judge the sons of men uprightly?
2 Nay, in your hearts you devise wrongs; your hands deal out violence on earth.
3 The wicked go astray from the womb, they err from their birth, speaking lies.
4 They have venom like the venom of a serpent, like the deaf adder that stops its ear,
5 so that it does not hear the voice of charmers or of the cunning enchanter.
6 O God, break the teeth in their mouths; tear out the fangs of the young lions, O LORD!
7 Let them vanish like water that runs away; like grass let them be trodden down and wither.
8 Let them be like the snail which dissolves into slime, like the untimely birth that never sees the sun.
9 Sooner than your pots can feel the heat of thorns, whether green or ablaze, may he sweep them away!
10 The righteous will rejoice when he sees the vengeance; he will bathe his feet in the blood of the wicked.
11 Men will say, “Surely there is a reward for the righteous; surely there is a God who judges on earth.”

FacebookEmailPinterestGoogle GmailShare/Bookmark

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Biased Media Coverage, Clerical Sexual Abuse of Children, The Drill, The future and our choices, The Last Acceptable Prejudice and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

35 Responses to KC Star refuses to report other side regarding Bp. Finn and Diocese. Refuses even to take paid ad.

  1. mrose says:

    The attacks are only beginning…

    What a wonderful sight to see would be Bp. Finn’s holy priests processing around the Star’s offices!

  2. Hidden One says:

    What other local newspapers exist out there?

  3. irishgirl says:

    That psalm hits the spot! King David wasn’t messing around when he was inspired to write it!
    Yes, I would like to see Bishop Finn’s priests circle the KC Star and have it exorcised!

  4. r.j.sciurus says:

    And then a samba line over to the offices of NcR. “A salt with intent to heal.”

  5. Paul says:

    If they tire of the 58th, perhaps a bit of my favorite, the 144th, “Blessed be the Lord my God, who teacheth my hands to fight, and my fingers to war.”

  6. dawneden says:

    Before expressing concern over the devil’s having his day via the anti-Catholic motives of some of Bishop Finn’s antagonists, we should pause to consider the legitimate anger of parents of small children who were let down by a diocese that failed to follow its own rules. Prayers for everyone involved.

  7. Cantor says:

    Sorry Father, but this time I disagree. [Okay... you don't want both sides in the press. Gotchya. That is the point of this post, since you didn't seem to notice.]

    Bishop Finn has shown himself to be a good and holy man and a devout Catholic, but he fails to measure up as leader of his Diocese during a time of crisis.

    If you want to “[r]ead and get a little angry” I’d suggest reading the Diocese’s own report on the situation. It is far more damning than anything the silly KC Star has printed, and makes Mr. Donohue’s ranting somewhat ridiculous.

    After a decade of almost daily assaults on the Church, how could the KC Diocese be so stupid?

    – How could a bishop ignore a written report from one of his school principals for a full 10 months, even after other concerns had been raised about the priest and the priest himself had attempted suicide?

    – How could a bishop “overlook” concerns about the priest’s dealings with children when he asked the Vincentians to welcome him into their Mission House?

    – How could the diocesan vicar believe that a phone call with a police officer wherein he describes a single photograph he’d not even seen set – failing to mention hundreds of other disturbing photographs – absolves him of further reporting requirements?

    – How could the diocesan lawyer, advised to turn over a computer in his possession to the police, instead send a flash drive copy of the materials and return the computer to the priest’s family where it was promptly destroyed?

    Unfortunately this episode has done nothing to reassure anybody of the Church’s intention to weed out its problems. Pointing fingers at overzealous prosecutors, people seem to forget that a host of other charges — evidence tampering, hindering prosecution, conspiracy, criminal enterprise — could quite easily be brought.

    We have the right to be unhappy about the Star’s actions, but they have a right to those actions.

    The Diocese does not have the right to its inactions.

  8. Supertradmum says:

    The smoldering hatred for Bishop Finn is part of the division of the diocese, between the pro-Finns and anti-Finns. This issue has just brought to the fore some of the hatred for this man which I came across when I worked for the diocese, both as a teacher in a Catholic college, and as a teacher in RCIA. It was obvious in both capacities that 50% of my confreres loved the man and 50% hated him. I wish this were not true, as I am talking about Catholics, active in ministries in the Church.

    The liberal media is selling papers to these people. Whether or not there is blame here for the Bishop, is a separate issue from the lack of fair reporting. But, given the heat behind the scenes, I am not surprised.

  9. Monica says:

    Dawneden, I’m with you. Bishop Finn was morally culpable in this mess and, while it remains to be seen whether he was legally culpable also, I’m appalled by Catholics dismissing this as “persecution of the Church.” [Another person who doesn't want both sides of the story in the press.]

  10. r.j.sciurus says:

    That particular account of the Graves report is somewhat slanted as is pointed out by the comments. That said, the anti-Catholic motives of the Star and others are completely independent of the facts of the case. The complaint is not that they are covering the issue, it’s HOW they are covering the issue.

  11. AndyMo says:

    The Catholic League ad is mostly an organizational assassination of SNAP. SNAP may or may not be a perpetrator of fraud when it comes to abuse cases, but to shift focus from the events in KC to the misdeeds of SNAP is a red herring; it has nothing to do with whether or not the law was broken in this particular case.

  12. jhayes says:

    AndyMo, I agree. The first 4 paragraphs are a defense of Bp. Finn. The next 20 are an attack on SNAP and some lawyers.

    I don’t think most responsible newspapers will sell space for an attack ad*

    Perhaps Mr. Donahue should submit just the first four paragraphs with a little cleaning up and see whether they will run those as an ad. If they will, it should be much cheaper

    *elections excepted

  13. FrAWeidner says:

    I am honestly not sure what to think or believe about Bp. Finn. He was certainly one of the very greatest bishops in the country. He was assigned to one of the most liberal dioceses in the U.S., and completely rewrote the book on how to deal with being an orthodox bishop assigned to a liberal diocese by how he handled the transition. There was no quarter, no “waiting things out,” but simply vigorous movement in policies and assignments to claim the diocese for Christ once more. Moreover, Bp. Finn always carried himself with a spirit of gentleness and calm. If he still didn’t come across as “pastoral,” well, sometimes, it’s beyond human capabilities to appear to be nice while doing what absolutely needs to be done.

    However, it’s looking as though even the best case perspective of past events in the Ratigan case is pretty awful. Bp. Finn will certainly never be promoted from Kansas City/St. Joseph (I had him pegged as a shoo-in in Chicago), and he may indeed be forced to resign. My biggest fear in the face of that is that the Congregation for Bishops might deal with this situation with imprudence disguised as conciliation. Insofar as the modernist sharks are driven rabid by the blood, the Congregation, the new nuncio, and the Holy Father must resist the temptation to replace Bp. Finn with someone more milquetoast. No, if he must resign, the Congregation should search carefully for an even more staunchly conservative/traditional replacement (in Bp. Finn’s case, very, very difficult to do) to avoid like the Black Death any iota of the semblance of the appeasement of people who, while probably sacramentally Catholic and perhaps even working for the Church, are when all is said and done her mortal enemies. Recent U.S. Catholic history states that what happened here had zero to do with ideology, so that course, given the thunder from the modernist left, must not be changed in Kansas City/St. Joseph, come hell or high water.

  14. “Psalms 58 [I am not making this up. It's really in the Psalter.]“

    Well, it depends on which psalter is meant. Psalm 57 (58) was in the original psalter of psalms that were recited weekly for some 1500 years in the Divine Office. But it is one of the “deprecatory psalms” that were omitted from the Liturgia Horarum in the 1971 revision. From the General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours:

    131. Three psalms (58, 83, and 109) have been omitted from the psalter cycle because of their curses; in the same way, some verses have been omitted from certain psalms, as noted at the head of each. The reason for the omission is a certain psychological difficulty, even though the psalms of imprecation are in fact used as prayer in the New Testament, for example, Rv 6:10, and in no sense to encourage the use of curses.

    Whereas we read in the introduction to the brief Officium Divinum (Angelus Press) that “it is correct to go beyond the immediate historical and personal limits of these [deprecatory] psalms and see in them images of the mighty struggle between hell and God’s kingdom, between Satan at large or in an individual soul. . . . . . consider the classic psalm literature in which petitions and lamentations are often clad in the natural and somewhat primitive form of a curse. . . . . As Christians we may never wish evil upon a sinner directly and personally, but these “curse psalms” have nothing to do with personal enmities. The theme of all our praying is God’s kingdom and the curse passages in the psalms are expressions of absolute protest against evil, sin and hell. Try changing the curse into an expression of diving justice and you pronounce them no longer with your own mouth but with the mouth of Christ and the Church.”

    [Thanks, Henry. Interesting quote. I, by the way, don't use the Liturgia Horarum anymore unless I am with other priests who do.]

  15. Jim Ryon says:

    Cantor:
    I believe your post reveals your own bias. I have read the report you referred to and it does not contradict any facts in Donahue’s rant, it certainly does not support a criminal charge and in my opinion does not support a charge of serious mistakes (except possibly with hindsight) by Bishop Finn. Bishop Finn has admitted to mistakes. Your comments:

    “how could the KC Diocese be so stupid?”

    Doesn’t deserve response.

    “How could a bishop ignore a written report from one of his school principals for a full 10 months, even after other concerns had been raised about the priest and the priest himself had attempted suicide?”

    The principal said she did not suspect child abuse, failed to show up at a diocesan meeting to confront the priest with her letter, and didn’t think the matter should be further referred.

    “How could a bishop “overlook” concerns about the priest’s dealings with children when he asked the Vincentians to welcome him into their Mission House?”

    He didn’t overlook concerns. He thought he was preventing contact with children, because of the nonpornagraphic pictures which is all the information he had at the time.

    “How could the diocesan vicar believe that a phone call with a police officer wherein he describes a single photograph he’d not even seen set – failing to mention hundreds of other disturbing photographs – absolves him of further reporting requirements?”

    I think his actions are defensible, but how does this involve Bishop Finn.

    “How could the diocesan lawyer, advised to turn over a computer in his possession to the police, instead send a flash drive copy of the materials and return the computer to the priest’s family where it was promptly destroyed?”

    I don’t think you have you facts correct here, but again how does this involve Bishop Finn.

    “people seem to forget that a host of other charges — evidence tampering, hindering prosecution, conspiracy, criminal enterprise — could quite easily be brought”

    This is just silly.

    AndyMo:
    Correct or not, I Think Donahue is making the charge that SNAP or their attorneys are behind the charge and/or persecution of the bishop in this case.

  16. czemike says:

    Here in KC we frequently refer to the KC Star as “The Red Star.” And it’s a paper that is losing circulation faster than an al Qaeda decapitation victim. I’m not saying the idiots at the Red Star shouldn’t be taken to task for this… they just don’t have the influence they wish they did.

  17. Mark R says:

    Why the assumption that newspapers have to be fair and accurate? That was just a mid 20th cent. wishful thinking. Papers throughout most of history have been deeply partisan (read any Anthony Trollope?) and can take advertising from whomever they wish.
    Please stop basking in persecution fantasies…you’ll be vitiated when the real persecutions come.
    Matt. V:10

  18. Nan says:

    @Cantor,

    Bp. Finn was indicted on a misdemeanor charge of the sort for which one would not be indicted but for the presumption in this country that priests are guilty.

    Take the same situation but put it in a school. Do you think the principal would be indicted for the same behavior? No. He wouldn’t. The teacher would be passed to another school with nobody the wiser until more children are abused.

    My biggest problem with the persecution of priests is that people don’t realize their children are more likely to be abused by friends and family, teachers, coaches and other volunteers than they are by priests but everyone focuses on the priests.

  19. robtbrown says:

    I grew up with the Star and have read it for years. It is not much of a newspaper.

    1. In this morning’s edition a paragraph in an article in the sports section begins: “His father and him stood outside”. A 7th grade grammar error from someone whose profession is writing–and another whose profession is editing.

    2. One of the editorial writers is Barbara Shelley, who is dumb as box of rocks. She is supposed to be the expert on health care reform but is oblivious to what caused health insurance increases: demographic changes and the introduction of scads of new diagnostic and treatment procedures.

    3. For various reasons I decided to stop the delivery of the Star. Not only do they keep delivering it, they also give me two on Sunday. I assume they want to keep up circulation numbers to sell advertising.

    4. The sad truth is that papers like the Star pay so little that generally it only can hire liberal ideologues and the untalented. That situation is not likely to improve.

  20. All: This entry is not here so that people can, again, pile on Bp. Finn. It is about the unwillingness of the KC Star to cover the story fairly.

  21. Cantor says:

    I dare say that the following link specifically shows that the KC Star does offer an excellent positive article for consideration including an interesting cast of characters:

    ** Diocese CAN get it Right **

    It may be only one positive amidst a host of negatives, but that’s the cost of having a free press in a community with only one newspaper.

  22. Joanne says:

    Ditto Cantor, Monica, and – DAWN EDEN!!!! Dawn Eden’s back online? Yaaay!!! : )

    My first reaction is to be glad I’ve never donated to the Catholic League. I cringe when I see Bill Donohue on tv and almost never feel that he speaks for me.

    “Anti-Catholic bias” in the media should be addressed, but it also would be wise not to overuse and misuse the term until it lacks any currency. I guess The Star should have run this ad, although I can’t say I’m sorry they rejected it, because the account that the CL gives doesn’t seem entirely honest and complete.

  23. Monica says:

    Father Z, I don’t know why you feel so compelled to make assumptions about the motivations behind my comment on Bishop Finn. Your ‘red remark’ is unfounded and untrue (“another person who doesn’t want both sides of the story in the press”).
    I have closely followed coverage of the Ratigan/Finn case and have learned a great deal from “both sides,” as you insist on characterizing coverage in support of/not in support of Bishop Finn’s actions.
    We disagree.
    You may not fairly imply that I don’t want “both sides of the story in the press.”
    But I have read your blog long enough to know how little an impact this post will have.

    [Okay. Good luck!]

  24. James Joseph says:

    Haven’t read that Psalm in while.

    It still rocks.

  25. Gladiatrix says:

    In the UK complaints about unfair press coverage can be made to the Press Complaints Commission, which is soon to be reformed and replaced by a more powerful body, is there anything similar in the US?

    Secondly, it is a criminal offence in the UK to incite religious hatred. I don’t know if there is a similar law on the statute books in Kansas or on a federal basis. If there is such a law perhaps the Catholic League or Catholics in Kansas might think about invoking it.

  26. Sam Schmitt says:

    Jim Ryon,

    There seems to be conflicting versions of the facts out there. Kevin O’Brien (Theatre of the Word blog) has read and analyzed the diocese’s report and agrees with Cantor’s reading. He’s taking it from a moral and not just a legal perspective.

    So for example, you say that the written report from the principal did not merit a response for various reasons. This may be true in the sense that the various players did not recommend it (why the princiapl did not after taking the trouble to write the thing in the first palce is hard to fathom), but if you read the report it raises so many red flags that it SHOULD have been followed up on, no matter what anyone says. After all we’ve been through, how can it be that any behavior that is remotely “creepy” is passed over?

  27. TWINC says:

    Father Z., I very much want both sides of the story in the press. The problem is, Bill Donohue is not being honest in his recap of what went on. Here’s my correction of Donohue’s slanted assertions, with comments in red, a la Fr. Z. The Spin Shall Set You Free

    And lest I incur more hatred and threats of physical assaults from the good Catholics who support Bishop Finn, let me reiterate that I am sure Bishop Finn is a good man and an orthodox bishop. However, he did in fact mishandle this situation and we do the Church no favors if we ignore that.

  28. Joanne says:

    “(why the princiapl did not after taking the trouble to write the thing in the first palce is hard to fathom),”

    In fairness to the principal, as the independent report points out (and assuming of course that the independent report is accurate), she was sort of taking on her boss by confronting Ratigan or getting others to discipline him. Someone in the hierarchy should have relieved her of that burden, but it doesn’t sound like anyone did.

  29. AnAmericanMother says:

    Here’s the problem with folks who are launching on Bishop Finn —
    You may think that he was careless, you may think he shouldn’t have delegated this to his VG, you may even think that his failure to do a more thorough investigation was morally reprehensible. You may think the diocese should be civilly liable in damages.
    That is not what we are talking about here.
    We are talking about criminal liability. That requires a very high standard of proof (beyond a reasonable doubt) and the elements of the charged crime must all be proved to the letter and beyond a reasonable doubt, including a criminal intent and first hand knowledge. There is no “respondeat superior” in criminal liability.

    Don’t fall into the trap that the KC Red Star would like you to rush into — imputing criminal liability on a moral or prudential standard. Even the supposed “other side of the story” is holding the door open for this trap.

    Bottom line: this indictment is idiotic for many reasons, and the newspaper is not being even-handed in promoting and championing the indictment of a cleric they and their supporters see as “the enemy”. When you allow the newspaper to trick you into supporting a politically motivated indictment by judging criminal liability by the wrong standard, you are simply confirming to the enemies of the Church that you are foolish enough to play along with their game.

    Once they have confirmed that, they will do this again, and again, and again until they have taken down all their “enemies”.

  30. jhayes says:

    Missouri is a state that requires ministers to immediately report to the Children’s Division when they have “reasonable cause to suspect that a child has been or may be subjected to abuse or neglect ”

    2. When a minister or agent designated pursuant to subsection 3 of this section has reasonable cause to suspect that a child has been or may be subjected to abuse or neglect under circumstances required to be reported pursuant to sections 210.109 to 210.183, the minister or designated agent shall immediately report or cause a report to be made as provided in sections 210.109 to 210.183. Notwithstanding any other provision of this section or sections 210.109 to 210.183, a minister shall not be required to report concerning a privileged communication made to him or her in his or her professional capacity.

    It seems that the issue the trial has to decide is whether Bishop Finn reported as soon as he had reasonable cause to suspect that a child had been or might be subjected to abuse

  31. jhayes says:

    The link for the quote in my last post is:

    http://www.moga.mo.gov/statutes/C300-399/3520000400.HTM

    There is a booklet for mandated reporter HERE

    It points out that:

    Reasonable cause to suspect means a standard of reasonable suspicion, rather than conclusive proof. When a person is required to report in an official capacity as a staff member of a school facility, the person in charge shall be notified. That person in charge becomes responsible for immediately making or causing a report to be made. This is not meant to relieve anyone of their responsibility from making a report. A report may also be made to any law enforcement agency or juvenile office, although this does not take the place of making a report to CD.

    So, when the school principal reported to the Bishop, the responsibility for reporting passed to the Bishop.

  32. AnAmericanMother says:

    jhayes,
    Just from a cursory review of the law, I can see a lot of problems with this indictment.
    The law is very vague on the definition of “person in charge” of a school facility. It might be the bishop, or it might be the vicar general. Or the board of governors. The definition of abuse is also problematic: “Abuse is defined as: ‘…Any physical injury, sexual abuse, or emotional abuse inflicted on a child other than by accidental means by those responsible for the child’s care, custody, and control.’” Lots of definitional issues there, too. And then there’s the question of the substance of the report.
    This is going to be a due process issue and a special demurrer issue (flaw in the indictment). You can’t stretch a criminal statute to cover a grey area like you can the civil code, and there’s a reason for that: it cuts down on the abuse of “prosecutorial discretion”.
    Looks to me like a good defense lawyer is going to have a field day both on substantive and procedural due process issues.

  33. jhayes says:

    @AnAmericanMother, I don’t have a feeling for how the trial will turn out. I suppose that, in the end, it will come down to when (if ever) did he have “reasonable cause to suspect” either that a child had already been abused or that children might be abused in the future.

    Only about half of the states ispecifically name clergy (ministers) as mandated reporters of abuse. I looked up the Missouri law because I didn’t know if it was one of those states.

  34. bookworm says:

    “In the UK complaints about unfair press coverage can be made to the Press Complaints Commission, which is soon to be reformed and replaced by a more powerful body, is there anything similar in the US?”

    If you’re talking about a government body, no, there is no US equivalent. The First Amendment to the US Constitution says that “Congress shall make no law abridging… the freedom of the press” and most courts would interpret this as meaning the press can do just about anything it wants, short of deliberate malicious libel — and even that is pretty difficult to prove under our system. There are private groups that attempt or claim to ferret out media bias and determine when coverage is unfair but the problem is that most of those groups are themselves biased in one direction or another.