The storm building in the D. of Kansas City-St. Joseph

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?

Just wondering.

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, The Last Acceptable Prejudice and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. AnAmericanMother says:

    (which is surprising since it would provide a much more consistent revenue stream)

    Actually not. No reason for you to know this, but in most if not all states, the school system is immune from suit as a governmental entity. The teachers and principals are protected by official immunity (sometimes called “derivative immunity”) generally for any “discretionary” decision, so other than the individual who commits the crime nobody can be liable.

    And that is the real reason nobody says anything about public schools.

    [And that is a reason why you should post this comment also at SERVIAM.]

  2. catholicmidwest says:

    1. The public schools are protected by people who don’t want to admit anything could be wrong with them. No one seriously calls them on their completely lousy educational performance either, same reason.
    2. A single man with personal-style pictures of many children, particularly children who are not his relatives, is pretty odd. Single men don’t usually have picture collections of youngsters, even benign ones, unless they are involved in things they should not be. This is the RED flag, as far as I am concerned. Even if the pics don’t quite make the X-rated column, this man has WATCH ME EVERY MINUTE written all over him. Sorry, but it’s true, Catholic priest or not. Common sense.

  3. catholicmidwest says:

    BTW, a single male teacher with a similar picture collection, or a garbage man or a mechanic or anyone else, for that matter, ought to be watched 24/7 too. Red flag for sure.

  4. EWTN Rocks says:


    “And that is the real reason nobody says anything about public schools.” I agree with your statement and conclusion.

  5. RichR says:

    Bishop Finn knows he has a prayer army here at

    Rosary going out his way……

    [Post that at SERVIAM also.]

  6. wanda says:

    Prayer promised.

  7. BLB Oregon says:

    I guess I’m in the right state. Public school districts in Oregon that fail to protect students from sexual or other abuse by staff or even other students are liable to lawsuit. I’d post an example, but they are legion. Search oregon school district sued sexual abuse and the first page alone will list Lake Oswego, Junction City, Salem-Keizer, and North Clackamas, not to mention La Center in the state of Washington. The Boy Scouts have been sued, here, too.

    People here expect the state and private organizations to be every bit as vigilant as they expect the Church to be. As for who should be “watched every minute”, there’s no one here that’s given carte blanche. You can’t tell a sexual abuser by looking at them. It is sad that it has to be that way, but if you know just one person who’s been victimized, you know it’s worth it.

  8. shane says:

    There very definitely is a witch hunt against alleged child abusers. It’s worth noting that the vast majority of alleged incidents took place decades ago. In those days psychiatrists treated sexual attraction to children as malleable to therapeutic treatment. The moving of abusive priests to new parishes is often protrayed as evidence of a ‘cover-up’ yet in many cases psychiatrists explicitly advised bishops to do such a thing. Bishops should have known better and adhered to the Church’s own Code of Canon Law (both 1917 and 1983) which prescribes laicisation for priests found guilty of abuse. Where bishops are culpable in this scandal, and bishops are certainly culpable, is in their ditching of Church law and practice for the fashionable liberal secular ‘wisdom’ of the moment.

    I suspect that given the media focus on the topic it will be hard for any ‘credible accused’ priest to get a fair trial. Also expect attacks from governments on the seal of confession.

    Ironically one of the factors that helps keep Catholic abuse in the media’s attention is the Church’s own record keeping system:

  9. AnAmericanMother says:

    To quote Sir Richard Burton, “Hearing is obedience.”

  10. EWTN Rocks says:


    I think I see your point and understand what may have happened. It’s important to note that documents and photos discovered were developed some time ago and not viewed. I heard that when computers were confiscated, evidence was readily available as the perpetrators were unaware how to delete files from their fancy non-PC computers. Records were built a long time ago and in essence became clutter. I understand the perpetrators were quite sorry to everyone involved and no harm was intended. In addition, they have a great deal of respect and admiration for all those hurt by their actions. One last thing: police tactics to arrest the perpetrators, while effective, were dishonorable.

  11. JoyfulMom7 says:

    “I deeply regret that we didn’t ask the police earlier to conduct a full investigation. ” – Bp. Finn

    Where is the common sense? When will they learn? This is inexcusable.

  12. Dr. K says:

    From the N-little ‘c’-R:

    And to whether he is considering resignation, said Finn: “I am looking forward to the future and how we can keep the commitments that we’ve made.”

    Translation: “Crucify him! Crucify him!”

    It is my understanding that Bishop Finn took action at least five months before the priest was arrested by sending him for psychiatric treatment and ordering him to stay away from children while residing in a community of religious Sisters. The diocese did not know about his pornography collection at this point in time, so it is not right for the NCR folk to be calling for the bishop’s head when he had no knowledge of this activity. This rampaging anger from the progressives is more attributed to his orthodoxy than to the present situation. They are desperate to take him down and are reaching for any opportunity they might get. Would they call for the resignation of a progressive bishop like Bishop Hubbard or Bishop Clark if the shoe was on the other foot? Methinks not.

  13. Dr. K says:

    There is also the following in the article:

    “After the diocese became aware that Ratigan had attended several functions involving children, Finn said in the letter that the diocesan vicar general contacted the police again May 12.”

    Sounds to me like the diocese did what they needed to do.

  14. GordonB says:

    As a KC resident, I have been watching this story closely. The media, as far as I can tell is failing to make an important point (which Father Z does make here), the actual criminal images were not discovered until just shortly before the priest was arrested– these images were not known to the folks in the Diocese back in December when questionable images were found and vetted (although they could have been vetted more thoroughly). By sloppily reporting this fact, I guarantee that the vast majority of the public believes Diocese knew of the actually criminal images and sat on them during the last five months.

  15. Pater OSB says:

    Please pray also for all the families of the parishes and schools where Fr. Ratigan served. Many of them are very hurt and still waiting to find out if their daughters were photographed – it has been a living nightmare for many of them.

  16. Phillip says:

    Like GordonB, as a KC resident, I’ve been following this story closely, and it is very troubling, as any such case is. At least two Catholics I know have said that their faith in the Church has been shaken by something like this hitting close to home. I shall keep the bishop, this priest, and those victimized by him in my prayers.

  17. LouiseA says:

    What Pater OSB said.
    Fr. Z. asks for prayers for the “bloke with issues” and the Bishop. Fine, yes, I have been praying for them since this story broke. But can you imagine how shattered the families and girls feel… they will never be able to trust, some will leave the Church, and they are struggling with betrayal, anger, revenge, etc. Pray for them, too.

  18. 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.

    This is not surprising in a world where, for years, the “global warming” crowd told us the crisis of “global warming” was so dire that we we had to do something about it right this instant, and could not afford to wait until the phenomenon was scientifically confirmed.

  19. teresabenedicta2 says:

    This is tragic all the way around. Shawn Ratigan has serious problems. (Bishop Finn no longer refers to him as “Father”. Neither will I.) He is in jail, charged with 3 counts of possessing child pornography. The 5-page single spaced memo from the principal at the school where he was pastor chronicles many inappropriate things he did. Anyone who has gone through Virtus training will recognize them as clearly boundary-crossing and potentially grooming behavior. The teachers, parents, and principal did the right thing to contact the diocese to protect the children a year prior to Ratigan’s arrest. In Missouri, ANYONE – and specifically school and church officials – who suspects child abuse is mandated by law to report it to authorities. I don’t know if school staff suspected abuse, but they noted in the memo that he displayed traits of a molester. I don’t know if diocesan officials suspected abuse either. The diocese had a picture of a nude child in their possession 5 months prior to the arrest in addition to this memo. All of these things, while they may not be illegal, are clearly evidence of a highly disturbed man, one with spiritual authority and power who should not be in the presence of children. Period. After he ignored Bishop Finn’s restrictions, the diocese contacted the police again in May, at which time the police investigated further and discovered actual child pornography in Ratigan’s residence. I am afraid for our diocese and our bishop. As for Shawn Ratigan, he could be the beneficiary of God’s mercy if he asks(ed) for it. I hope the court system finds the real truth and he is treated accordingly. And God help any children who were hurt in any way. Many Catholics are leaving the Church, using this as the excuse. They (we) are hurt in a serious way. Do not be blinded to the facts in the name of love of the Church, priests, bishops and God. We must seek the truth as the Lord would. My heart grieves for everyone involved. Now, there is a priest to whom I must show compassion this weekend because he seriously needs it. Please pray that I can see past my hurt and anger to his needs, which are greater. Apologies for the length of this reply.

  20. P.S. I agree that in the eyes of the media, the bishop’s real crime will be his orthodoxy and the fact that he cleaned out the liberal Augean Stables as soon as he took charge of his diocese. I don’t see what is unreasonable about how he handled this situation, even if he himself — as a bishop who takes his responsibilities very, very seriously — wishes he had done anything differently.

  21. Banjo pickin girl says:

    teresabenedicta2, “Now, there is a priest to whom I must show compassion this weekend because he seriously needs it. Please pray that I can see past my hurt and anger to his needs, which are greater. ” You show real charity.

  22. chcrix says:

    There are a number of issues with respect to our society that need to be borne in mind.

    First, remember how many totally bogus abuse allegations that have been made all the way back into the ’80s. I don’t just mean priests here, I mean some of the high profile prosecutions including I believe every single case on which Janet Reno’s reputation was built on. (Here of course I am not commenting on this particular case – just pointing out the background.)

    Second, our society is not merely awash in sex, but determined to push children in sexual directions in dress and manners years before they would gravitate in that direction. This is so pronounced that my older daughter uses the term ‘prostitots’ to describe the situation. At the same time, that society claims that it wants to ‘protect’ all the children. This is cognitive dissonance of the first order.

    Finally, perhaps generalizations in the line of ‘a single man who has a collection of such and such pictures must be watched 24-7’ or whatever should be avoided. I don’t know what these particular pictures we are talking about were or are. But I would remind folks that Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (better known as Lewis Carroll) has been pilloried as a paedophile for the last few decades. Yet actual evidence for this opinion is somewhere between scanty and non-existent. While I am certain that there are serious incidents of paedophilia now and in the past, I can’t help but think that some of this focus is the warped nature of our own post-Freudian society being unable to accept anything as not having sexual connotations.

  23. “I deeply regret that we didn’t ask the police earlier to conduct a full investigation.” – Bp. Finn

    Bishop Finn, like a true father has chosen to take responsibility. No surprise there, but since when is it incumbent upon the citizen who is reporting the facts to “ask” the police to carry out a more thorough investigation? The current climate of hypersensitivity is causing us to place unreasonable standards on ourselves. That’s the media’s job!

    Secondly, the diocese reported everything they knew to police immediately. The police then decided what constituted an appropriate response. That is their job. If anyone wonders why a full investigation wasn’t done sooner they should ask the police.

  24. benedetta says:

    I think in reading the news reports as well as the blog post, that parents are to be commended for speaking out about the serious red flags they observed from this man and possibly their doing so prevented further harm. I agree that to say that what he was doing was victimless or without consequence is to enable a denial that starts with the man himself. Likely the policies for what Bishops ought to do when red flag behaviors are observed by priest or personnel which are done publicly and are not criminal or actionable are somewhat murky in comparison with the zero tolerance policy of credible report of physical abuse. Recently where I am a man alleged that he was violated by different priests who lived together in an apartment after having attended ‘beer blasts’ with minors and other adults, all male, and which were fairly well known. I would think this sort of thing should have been a red flag and acted upon at that level way before the sexual abuse was reported.

    I think that in some places the fewer and fewer vocations have put a terrible strain on priests who now are forced to shoulder their responsibilities virtually alone, with no possibility of living with others in a community who can help them along and also help them to be accountable. In the midst of the culture wars wherein some dioceses seemed to check out in terms of working to encourage vocations and rejected the steps taken in other places that seemed to correlate to increase in vocations, this is really terrible collateral damage to the situation that wasn’t realized until it was too late. Could living in community have helped this man? Perhaps, and perhaps the parents would have had an advocate to talk to as well and perhaps the lines of communication with the diocese leadership might have been better to begin with.

    With respect to the media and double standards. I do think that as Catholics in all that we do we ought to have better standards, regarding example to children and at minimum this should be protection against sexual victimization. Clearly that is the minimum expectation. Following this through adults should refrain from burdening children with their political agendas, restricting development of faith because of one’s own struggles in the faith, assuming children will do this or that before they have been permitted to be mature and permitted to be faithful, and avoiding scandalizing children by the horror of the abortion culture. Catholics have to be different than the secular culture with regard to many areas including stepping in to say that even though one regularly sees pornography on buses, tv and print media, on the internet and in movies, that it’s not ok, that although marketing types in suit and tie specialize in targeting children and sexualizing them by clothing and speech in what is sold and will take money to do this, that it’s not ok, no matter what the media pretends. That we should be courageous enough to defy the media’s instant condemnation of being, fundamentalist, prudes, repressed, whatever other b.s. they want to load on us, and realize that for the health and the well being and salvation of children it is all worth it.

    Does the media have favorite Bishops for whom they will soft pedal the usual anti-Catholic rhetoric? Sure it does. Which shows that the media is totally hypocritical and wants what it wants and cares not about much else, is not accountable to anyone save advertisers. When the secularist media perceives one or other Bishop could be useful in animating their political and secular agendas, then they attempt to curry favor. Interestingly though in secular comboxes regardless of which Bishop it is one reads the very same stereotypes and anti-Catholic bigotry no matter what, so much for the media’s attempt to play favorites and protect or celebrate certain Bishops. The way it plays out is the same either way and the Bishops who are flattered when they receive special treatment from press ought to be wary and not confuse their obligations.

  25. AnAmericanMother says:

    Correct, and that brings up another point.
    The Fourth Amendment and its case law permit police searches only under limited circumstances.
    There’s a reason for that. You really don’t want the police going through your house. It is worse than a burglary, they basically tear everything apart and they aren’t nice about it.
    In hindsight, this is a guilty man. But you can’t validate a search on hindsight, based on what you find in the search. There has to be “probable cause” to believe a crime has been committed.
    Vague suspicions, “violating boundaries” or possessing non-pornographic nude pictures (Steichen? Eakins? the aforementioned Lewis Carroll?) or even looking like the creepiest guy ever, is not probable cause.
    Unless you’re going to make a Special Rule for Priests (and I’m sure some would support that, but it’s a really, really bad idea) or want to live in a police state, the Fourth Amendment has to be honored.

  26. cmm says:

    Father Shawn Ratigan seriously needs our prayers. I believe that he is a disturbed man. He tried to deal with his issues by attempting suicide. Now he is in prison under charges of pornography. Indeed, he really needs our prayers! (Also, it seems that he has not actually committed sexual abuse).

    An Orthodox prayer after an attempted suicide (I could not find a Catholic prayer):
    Almighty God, the Creator and Redeemer of mankind, Who givest us our life in the world that we may prepare for the life to come, Who hast delivered Thy servant, N., from blood-guiltiness: Have pity, we beseech Thee, upon him, who would rashly have thrown away Thy gift, and as Thou hast in mercy defeated his designs, so do Thou grant unto him time and grace for repentance. Graciously look upon him, and in Thy compassion forgive him what he hath done amiss through the malice of the Enemy. Restore him by Thy grace, strengthen him with Thy might, and bring forth from his heart tears of sorrow, that he may bewail his sins committed against Thee, and by Thy mercy obtain pardon for them: For Thou art the God of the penitent, and unto Thee we ascribe glory, to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

  27. benedetta says:

    Where were ncr and commonweal and the others when where I am a man came forward about priests who had been known to have abused others even before he told his story, and it started with all-male beer blasts with minors and altar boys? There was silence. Do they only get all worked up about the children when it involves someone such as Bishop Finn whom they love to hate. If they indeed feel it is perfectly good for practicing Catholics to say “I wouldn’t myself deign to have one but it is ok for another to choose it” there is more than one issue of hypocrisy, disconnect, when it comes to being a credible voice on behalf of the dignity and the very real rights of all children. It’s a nice first step and I pray they can be fortified to boldly go where no mainstream secularist media will go and advocate for the rights of children wherever situated, let the chips fall where they may. Now they are about affirming the ages old status quo and have forgotten the countercultural mission.

  28. Andy Milam says:

    Father Ratigan needs our prayers. Regardless of his crime, he is a priest forever and deserves our prayers. His soul has been indellibly marked and he will be judged as a priest. So, I will continue to call him Father (as I do with all priests who have left the active priesthood, by whatever means).

    Yes, he made a huge mistake. Yes, he is in the process of having this proven legally. Yes, he probably will never assume active ministry as a priest ever again. Yes, he is innocent until proven guilty, but that is by the legal system. The “court of public opinion” sadly, doesn’t follow the same protocol. They have their own criteria and will subjectively apply that principle as they see fit. Thank God (yes, God), that we are not legally tried based upon the “COPO” criteria. The prison system is too full as it is, imagine if COPO were to rule the day?

    As it is, COPO is expecting Bishop Finn to be a savant. If Bishop Finn knew and maybe he did, there is no reason why this particular case should have been made public, until such time as it needed to be. Now, once the arrest was made, the diocese HAD to make a statement, because the papers were going to, so at that point Bishop Finn had to make a statement. But that doesn’t mean that he HAD to make a statement prior. An in house investigation was being conducted and presumably, the priest was being treated as innocent until proven guilty, which as I pointed out goes against COPO guidelines.

    BUT, this case isn’t a case of child abuse, as defined by COPO with regard to the Catholic Church’s scandals. This is a case of pornography. But COPO, in their finite (they like to think infinite) wisdom lumps all of this together by some sort of warped mentality. So, I will pray for Bishop Finn. My prayer is that he continues to weather the COPO storm. He will, he is a strong man and a good bishop. My prayer is that Fr. Ratigan finds justice, whatever it may be…he deserves that. All men (universal, not just masculine) who are citizens of the USA deserve that. And if it is proven that he did this, then I hope he seeks redemption and repentence and he moves forward with his life, as best he can.

    This will also be posted at SERVIAM.

  29. The Fourth Amendment and its case law permit police searches only under limited circumstances.

    Exactly, AmericanMother! This is precisely the response I would expect the media will hear if they ever feel compelled to ask the right question of the right entity. But… taking even a portion of the boulder off of Bishop Finn’s shoulders isn’t likely very high on many of their To-DO lists.

  30. Next thing to watch for are the homosexual apologists to twist these events to make the case that the John Jay researchers are exactly right – the victim’s gender and a homosexual orientation on the part of the priest have nothing to do with clergy who sexually exploit minors. Not sure exactly how they will attempt to leverage this case, but I fully expect it.

  31. Athelstan says:

    Hello Fr. Z,

    [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.]

    Or some (nominally) Catholic ones as well, as we all know too well. At least one prominent poster over at Commonweal has blamed the problem on Bishop Finn’s “Tridentine” obsessions. Which of course leaves us to wonder what the excuse was for such reactionary (pardon the sarcasm) bishops as Weakland, Mahoney, Favalora, Moreno, Untener, etc., with long track records of covering up abuse or even some cases committing it themselves.

    And yet the Fishwrap – which, however appalling it is in its assaults on Church teaching, has done some decent reportage on a number of sex scandals – has never been at a loss to praise many of these same prelates with little or no mention of their failings with abusive priests (or in some cases, their own). Which suggests to me that the knives get wielded with more abandon when the bishop in question has such a conservative reputation.

    Let me be clear: The facts suggest that Bishop Finn could have acted with more vigilance in this case, that he could have been more proactive. But nothing he did violated the Charter or the law, and to the eyes of this correspondent so jaded by truly horrific behavior by bishops, his failure here seems rather minor. That won’t stop the lynching parties, for whom every single bishop and priest is a criminal conspirator.

  32. benedetta says:

    I’m willing to give the secularist media a pat on the back for an expression of outrage in this instance if it shows itself to be authentically concerned about the welfare of children and not about their personal agenda. So we’ll see. These people are living in a total world of pathetic denial if they actually believe that this priest’s actions can be compartmentalized apart from the sexual objectification and utilitarian exploitation of children which the secularist marketed media supports every single day, whether by advertising, whether by attack on families who attempt to resist, or through anti-Catholic bigotry. How was what he was doing as an individual very different from what is pushed on us every day through secularist big business and the media which says that it is perfectly ok to view children in this way to satisfy one’s needs, whether financial or on various other levels including sexual. Does the media really believe that what this guy was inclined to do was not fed by so much garbage the media foists on people every day with little or no objection by secularists? For those who are still laboring under the delusion that it’s all good and innocuous, with respect to our kids, then, you tell me, if you as a parent, or aunt or uncle feel that, while it may be ok for your 1st grade daughter to be enamored of Lady Gaga or Justin Bieber or whomever the latest mass marketed one may be (and someone such as Bill Cosby has objected for quite a long time about what has been marketed to a certain demographic, shamelessly, for years, with respect to denigrating one’s self and others), do you deny that if you then someday along the way decide that you would also like to introduce your little one to the beauty of Bach, or a day in the mountains unplugged, or the wonders of a Monet or a Degas, the inherent coolness of the work and journey of Louis Armstrong…do you deny that it will take some active steps, that it will not happen by osmosis, that you the adult will have to do some legwork, organizing, and even perhaps beg for attention and just invite a child to check out, something, just about anything, else? And I am willing to bet these same folks who give voice to the secularist agenda and even will pretend that Gaga has something theologically rich to offer Christian life of faith at this point are, I am willing to wager a gift pack of mystic monk, also privately (secretly?) providing, Bach, Narnia, Ella Fitzgerald, Veggie Tales, barring the tv, patrolling the internet use, not permitting texting, etc etc etc, all in a desperate attempt to contain what we all know is at work and feeding off our children’s brains and free will gifted so by God. It’s ok to secretly choose that but at all costs it must never be publicly admitted to, and heaven forbid they use their leadership and mouthpiece to support poor and working families who may have much fewer resources and unable to supply all those ‘extras’ and ‘alternatives’ to ask the secularist sex saturated consumerist media to, maybe, control itself, employ ethics, take it down, a notch, just counter it a little bit and, heaven forbid, once in the lifetime come down on the same side of the much ridiculed and vilified mythical homeschoolers? We shall see…

  33. AnAmericanMother says:

    I was not aware of the Oregon law, so I went and checked.
    Claims against government entities (which includes school districts) in Oregon are not under common law, but under the limited framework of the state Tort Claims Act. That means that these are not unlimited lawsuits with unlimited damages. For one thing, the statute of limitations is extremely short – two years – so claims years after the fact are going nowhere. For another, damages are limited – no punitives, and dollar limits on overall damages. No ambulance chaser is going to take such a case looking for a big fee.
    Just from a quick perusal of the statute here:
    it appears that governmental and official immunity still applies even to OTCA.
    So these lawsuits may have been filed, but what’s going to happen at the trial and appellate levels will be a different story. You can sue anybody for anything – all it takes is a filing fee and a lawyer willing to take the case.
    The Boy Scouts are of course not at issue here, since they are a private body. That’s why they have instituted stringent child protection policies.
    The justification for government immunity is of course that the individuals who made the decisions don’t pay, and neither do shareholders of the company they run. The taxpayers pay. I think TCAs have become popular because it motivates taxpayers to make sure their ’employees’ are not completely out of control, but doesn’t allow a multi-billion dollar award that could bankrupt the city, county, or school district.

  34. benedetta says:

    And it is really not too late, is it, for this same media, whether espousing Catholic, Christian viewpoint or not, to step up, to be responsive to the needs and actions of ordinary people who legitimately want the good for their families and attempt this through a variety of means, and develop a new line of thought. They can easily say, “at the time, we did not really predict that abortion would then be employed as so much birth control, that the numbers would not be remotely so high, that it would not inordinately affect one ethnic group…” They can easily say, “Though we were at Woodstock and we emerged from the 80s without addiction to crack or cocaine, without AIDS or other std, marriage intact, without being physically and emotionally traumatized by an abortion, all good…we understand, legitimately that the sexual revolution has revolved many times over such that now it has spun way out of control and beyond free will and this is not what was envisioned”…many, many areas could be developed in light of new realities, new knowledge, the voices and very real and expressed needs of young people, with us or gone forever, as the case may be. I would think that a lot of people would find this process of owning up to the reality, of taking an honest stock as to where we have been and what’s going on now, to admit to the limitations and even the complicity even if unintended with all kinds of horrors that beset and prey upon young people, quite refreshing, renewing, impressive, encouraging, hopeful, credible, of integrity, ethical, open, transparent, unafraid of clarification of thought. Maybe our friends and questioners in the media need to take stock and take a cue from the nike ad ‘lead, follow, or, get out of the way’…I just don’t see that it is useful to anyone to be in lockstep with Woodstock ad infinitum…

  35. worm says:

    I understand the emotional reaction against Bishop Finn. Perhaps he could have done more but what? Outside hiring a private investigator, I don’t see what more he could do. If I’m missing something, I’d really like to know, becuase with small children myself, I am very much in favor of trying to protect them. Bishop had already taken the priest out of ministry and tried to restrict his movements and keep him away from children, but Bishop Finn has no real authority or power to do so. The only ones who could, the civil authorities, chose not to. The people whose job it really is to protect us and who were given all the information available at the time made the decision not to investigate further. How is that the bishop’s fault?

  36. Banjo pickin girl says:

    benedetta, sometimes living in community can make a man’s situation worse if he is surrounded by “enablers.” I have read about this happening in a monastery in the north country.

    I pray just about all day for the Church and its hurdles, some of them self-built some of them not.

    Charity seems hard to come by sometimes.

  37. teresabenedicta2 says:

    Fr. Z (and Louis), regarding “[W]hen is it incumbent upon the citizen who is reporting the facts to “ask” the police to carry out a more thorough investigation?” Exactly. The diocese showed the police the same information the second time they contacted them as they did the first. The second time the police dug further. As was asked earlier, why did the POLICE wait?
    Fr. Z, regarding your addendum to your post: To clarify, every church employee is mandated by law to contact the Division of Family Services (not the police) if they suspect child abuse, but not if they only “suspect that someone is doing something wrong, should the first call be to the police”.) This regards abuse only, and not a call to the police.
    It’s an incredible responsibility, and a judgment call. I wonder if that is why the principal went to diocesan officials. Maybe they didn’t suspect abuse but knew something wasn’t right and that the diocese needed to take care of it. I believe she did the right thing but diocesan officials did not. The priest should never have been allowed on church property after that letter was presented. He possibly harmed children and caused scandal among those concerned, hurting the Church body, the body of Christ.
    Please pray for our bishop as he ordains a new priest this morning, and for the new priest. What a climate into which to be ordained. It’s a shame that on such a joyous occasion the bishop carries this tremendous burden.

  38. teresabenedicta2 says:

    @worm: A bishop is responsible for his diocese. He, himself, said he should have pushed for further investigation in December. Hindsight is 20/20, and I’m afraid the lack of foresight will come back to haunt them.

  39. benedetta says:

    The same voices which accept the libertinism and dictatorship of relativism, refuse to resist it or to support others attempting to actively resist it and help children to realize something more hopeful and healthy, seem to, at least on paper, support the notion of integrated sexuality for priests. According to what these publications encourage, priests who wholeheartedly accept the premise that the marketed driven celebration of libertinism with a chaser of relativism will somehow manage to also develop a healthy and integrated sexuality. I wonder if this priest himself did not buy into that entire mentality which says that it is all relative and so long as he wasn’t hurting anyone his sexual fantasy life was fine, no questions asked. Look, what of the media’s silence and use of euphemism to excuse in so many ways the actions dsk is accused of? How does affirming him as nothing more than a sort of naughty seducer and libertine whose excesses took one single misstep but apart from that he was a leader, honorable with good ideas for us all, connect up, exactly, to the supposedly pure and natural and healthy ideal of the sexual revolution? I am looking to our experienced, enlightened leaders in the boomer media and Church to help us get back to the garden…Do none of them want to cross the fixatedly crafted media regulations and taboo to say, um, this very wealthy and entitled, official man is accused of, violently setting upon, a poor African immigrant, a single mother who lived in relative poverty and worked to bring food to the table in a fancy expensive manhattan hotel by cleaning up after people, for his sexual needs, and, the American system of perp walks and criminal justice is just so arcane and the very idea of someone so important and noble as him having to be subjected to the indignity of rikers…? Where is the outrage? You can hear it in so many profiles and couched defense that he was just a misguided libertine…and not an actual criminal. Sorry, what he is accused of is still criminal and with great reason, libertine, seducer as he may be euphemistically described.

  40. catholicmidwest says:

    From teresabenedicta’s post, “The 5-page single spaced memo from the principal at the school where he was pastor chronicles many inappropriate things he did…..The diocese had a picture of a nude child in their possession 5 months prior to the arrest in addition to this memo.”

    I’m not exactly sure what would be enough to make you wonder if something was going on.

    This inability to see the obvious when it involves a cleric was a co-cause of the abuse crisis. Yes, you heard me right. Catholics have a problem with abuse because they absolutely refuse to see the obvious and it was one of the contributing causes to the sexual abuses we’ve seen. For years, I’ve heard story after story about kids in rectories, vacation houses, swimming pools, etc etc. Where the hell are their parents??? What are their parents thinking???? And when a priest is found with a totally hinky set of photos, why do Catholics not get upset??? I don’t get it.

    Single men normally do not and SHOULD NOT be interested in children as primary social companions. I would have thought this as OBVIOUS as day, but I guess not for some people. Single men should not have intimate (or naked!) photos of children in their possession. If they do, you should worry. It’s ODD. Odd as hell.

  41. Banjo pickin girl says:

    catholicmidwest, You have touched on a larger issue, that of chastity. A priest is not just a single male, he is called to be chaste. Catholics often also refuse to see the danger of having young women working in the rectory, being personal friends with priests, etc. The same temptations exist in such cases though they are often looked at as being between “consenting adults.”

  42. catholicmidwest says:

    Yes, banjo pickin girl, you are correct. I have seen cases like this too.

    But, clerical status aside, it is pathological for a man to be inordinately interested in children or teenagers, in detriment to the interest he shows adults. Men who choose to focus their social lives and personal interests on children need psychological/psychosexual assessment. This includes having naked photos, parties for children where the man is the only adult, sleepovers, deep non-parental relationships, child-man trips, etc etc. It is PATHOLOGICAL, you understand. And unusual: unusual enough that people should be noticing. It’s a WAVING, SCREAMING, HONKING RED FLAG. And yet, I have seen account after account among Catholics where this sort of thing has occurred, usually as you know, accompanied by some sort of immoral activity.

    Clerical chastity is over and above the basic requirement of psychological fitness and basic decency. Chastity is to be expected of our priests, yes, but chastity is a much higher goal than basic soundness, ie lack of mental illness (sociopathy, sexual disorder, insanity) and lack of criminality (pornography, rape, violence). This is what is so outrageous about all this.

  43. benedetta says:

    Catholicmidwests and Banjopickingirl, Totally agree. The same clerics who host the beer parties and drive certain chosen kids on road trips are also the ones who refuse to truly be a pastor to people in the simple and wholesome ways they are called to and are needed. They chase down being a ‘buddy’ to the kids whom they target for their treatment and neglect, simultaneously. And people look to and expect in many ways from priests all manner of things, at the expense of, and with often a rejection of, what they are really and truly called to be, who they are. They want one who will tell them that it is ok that they vote prochoice and they can still be a Eucharistic minister regardless, but not the one who will show the complete mercy of God towards His people in the sacrament of reconciliation. They regard the priest only so far as he will supply the results they seek in the short term and be satisfied totally with the appearances, but neglect the much larger reality.

    In this instance, from the news reports it seems that the parents and teachers quickly saw what was going on and did something about it. I know nothing of the school but along the lines of what Catholicmidwest says, even still one could ask, so you invited your priest to go along on, field trips (?) but did you offer Eucharistic adoration at the school…did you have possibility for regular reconciliation, was Mass offered weekly. Maybe this school did those things and still invited their pastor to field trips, or, more disturbingly, he invited himself. The teachers and parents did hint at it though, questioning his allocation of time at the school to the neglect of duties at the parish…Were they not saying, we don’t need a priest to hang out on the school playground with our kids but we do need a priest to actually be a priest.

    What would the libertine secularist media say? That he could cultivate this fantasy life and take certain actions to further it but still do ok work, still be a “good person”?

    Given as Fr. Z says that in the current climate most priests are wary if not terrified of being around children, then what this guy was actively pursuing was one red flag after another and the parents were quite right to question it.

    Seeing as how he is not accused of actual abuse at this point, then what is alleged is essentially that he was using the children he encountered through his work to supply or foster his fantasy life…I think that the media has to make a judgment on this one and take a look at so much more that is at work and question its own role in that.

  44. catholicmidwest says:

    The Church has got to get a handle on those in its employ who have pathological disorders that affect their vocations. People who have a significant pychological diagnosis (according to the DSMIV) should NOT be working with the public. I mean, I would have thought this would be obvious but I guess not.

  45. Fr Martin Fox says:

    Maybe I’m missing something in the blizzard of facts, allegations, suspicions and inferences…

    These seem to be the salient facts, maybe I’m wrong (and this is not necessarily the right order):

    1. The Archdiocese [Diocese] received a written report from the school alleging odd behaviors.
    2. The Archdiocese became aware of at least one image in the priest’s possession of a nude child–and wondered if it met the criteria of child porn.
    3. The Archdiocese removed him as a pastor, put him on duty away from kids, provided information to the police, but did nothing else.
    4. New information came to light, and he was arrested and removed from latter assignment.

    What am I missing that’s essential and established?

  46. EWTN Rocks says:


    Thank you for posting such a lovely prayer. It reminds me of a friend who had come to a spirtual crossroad and was waiting for God’s direction which way to go. She prayed and prayed and soon became frustrated when the answer was not at hand. Eventually she realized that she had been looking at the answer all along. I’m happy to say that both she and I are proud to call ourselves faithful Catholics and are loyal to the church.

  47. EWTN Rocks says:

    catholic midwest @ 12:37 pm:

    You said, “this includes having naked photos.” I understand the photos were of fully clothed children, and were not in his possession to ease some sort of perverse sexual desire. Lacking information, it’s easy to draw assumptions. What’s worse is the temptation to become both judge and jury and convict people based on assumptions vs. fact.

  48. claiborneinmemphis says:


    “People who have a significant pychological diagnosis (according to the DSMIV) should NOT be working with the public. I mean, I would have thought this would be obvious but I guess not.”

    Most alcoholics I have known think that they have no drinking problem whatsoever. They also attempt to surround themselves with fellow drunks so that they feel better about their own habits.

    Is it disrespectful to suggest that more than a few bishops have the same motivations in almost actively recruiting homosexuals, etc., into the priesthood?

    In a diocese with which I am quite familiar, the bishop has done just that. Significantly, the vocations director is so flamboyantly ‘gay’ that he has unwittingly turned away two men of my acquaintance during the initial interview in their discernment process. Said one, “He’s just gross!”

    Now, no one in his right mind could fail to see that this guy is happily gay (sorry for the pun). So, the questions are:
    why is he promoted and why does he have honors lauded on him?
    And why does most everyone I know pretend that he is NOT what he clearly IS?
    Does much of the blame lie with US for turning a blind eye?

  49. catholicmidwest says:

    Yes, I’m remarking on the patterns I’ve seen over and over for nearly a decade, more than in this particular case. It’s all so monotonous and so mishandled from the get-go. How do people with the kinds of problems we’re talking about get into the priesthood exactly?

  50. catholicmidwest says:

    I mean considering the fact that they’ve been in a seminary for YEARS before ordination, which is essentially a small enclosed educational environment, how do people NOT notice things serious enough to be diagnosable by any decent psychologist on an average Wednesday afternoon?

    Are most seminaries that amateurish? Or desperate? Or what?

  51. EWTN Rocks says:

    BTW, to claify my 1:20 pm post, when I said “faithful Catholics and are loyal to the church”, I meant this more broadly. To be more accurate, we are faithful and loyal to the teachings, history, and tradition of the entire Catholic Church.

  52. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Louie Verrecchio commented, “Secondly, the diocese reported everything they knew to police immediately. The police then decided what constituted an appropriate response. That is their job. If anyone wonders why a full investigation wasn’t done sooner they should ask the police.”

    I can understand why Bishop Finn feels remorse. Unlike most police departments, who look at things from a limited knowledge of the clergy abuse problem, a bishop is pretty expert on these issues. Most bishops now know that certain “red flags” in a priest’s rectory, even if they do not constitute a blatant violation of the Charter of 2002, are pretty sure signs that you need to get in there and do a thorough sweep. The bishops have long since been schooled on what to look for in a disturbed man, vis a vis pictures of children and activity around them, and know what to listen for in priest’s reaction. The thing is, the bishop’s “Christian compassion” overrode the “red flags flying up, don’t leave any stone unturned” mode. I can assure you, Bishop Finn will never, ever, ever again make the same mistake.

    And no, privacy and immunity from searches do not cover the rectory. It is not our property, and we are still under the promse of obedience to submit to whatever searches the bishop may ask for based upon a reasonable suspicion (pics of naked kids). We priests can be ordered to vacate a rectory within hours, if need be, and the bishop has the right to order the police onto the premises, and to carry out any searches deemed necessary for the good of and protection of the children placed under his spiritual care.

    And although it is not considered direct contact to possess child pornography, the church certainly classifies such as “child abuse” and sexual abuse of children, because child pornography is a material cooperation in the violation of their bodily dignity and integrity, even if not in a direct way.

  53. I have removed some unworthy comments and closed the combox. I don’t have the energy to moderate this right now.

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