People and Politics by Patrick Roberts
The shocking indictment of Robert Finn, Bishop of Kansas City --Why did a bishop choose church over children?
Posted on Saturday, October 15, 2011 at 06:46 AM
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Will Catholic church leaders ever learn that child abuse is a vile crime?
The latest episode is where the Bishop Robert Finn the Irish American conservative bishop of Kansas City was indicted for covering up a pedophile priest in his diocese
This is no ancient case, but rather one that happened just a few months ago where a sexual predator was allowed free rein by Bishop Robert Finn to prey on young children.
A fellow priest first reported the allegations to Finn and his staff.
They ignored it.
Now Finn has rightfully been indicted and must surely resign.
This all comes back to a culture of complicity in the church.
Some leaders have circled the wagons and chosen the institution over the people.
It is a massive mistake.
And they continue to cover up.
The Finn case is an obvious example.
Three years ago he paid out millions to settle cases and swore it would never happen again.
Until it did.
Finn was indicted by a county grand jury on the charge of failing to report a priest who he suspected to be a pedophile.
This is the first indictment of a Catholic bishop in the United States over the past 25 years, when sexual abuse scandals within the church emerged.
Finn has been accused of covering up sexual abuse in the church as recently as last year.
Ten years ago the United States Catholic bishops passed a charter pledging to report abusers to the authorities.
The priest Finn protected, Rev. Shawn Ratigan, had been accused of taking inappropriate photographs of young girls.
Finn has admitted that he knew that these photos existed last December, however, he did not turn the priest in question in to the authorities until May.
In May, Ratigan, the priest in question, was arrested. He has been indicted by a federal grand jury on the charges of possessing indecent photographs of young girls. The most recent photographs were taken at an Easter egg hunt last spring.
Ratigan attended children’s birthday parties, spent weekends in the homes of parish families, hosted the Easter egg hunt, and presided at a girl’s First Holy Communion – all with Finn’s permission.
During the period from December to May, Finn and the diocese had no reason to suspect Ratigan of being involved in child abuse.
According to the New York Times the indictment said, “previous knowledge of concerns regarding Father Ratigan and children; the discovery of hundreds of photographs of children on Father Ratigan’s laptop, including a child’s naked vagina, upskirt images and other images focused on the crotch; and violations of restrictions placed on Father Ratigan.”
Jackson County prosecutor, Jean Peters-Bakers said Finn and the diocese had “reasonable cause" to suspect a child had been abused.
Speaking to AP, Baker said that the misdemeanor classification "should not diminish the seriousness of the charge. Now that the grand jury investigation has resulted in this indictment, my office will pursue this case vigorously because it is about protecting children. I want to ensure there are no future failures to report resulting in other unsuspecting victims."
The bishop and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph have been charged with one count each, a misdemeanor.
Finn appeared in court on Friday at 1 p.m. The bishop pleaded not guilty, as did lawyers for the diocese.
A statement released by the bishop said “We will meet these announcements with a steady resolve and a vigorous defense.”
He added that the diocese would give their “complete cooperation” to the authorities.
Finn said that since the scandal became public he and the diocese commissioned a report to look into the case. He also added that they had been reinforcing procedures for handling allegations of abuse.
His diocese has become polarized over this case and there have been widespread calls for him to resign.
His parishioners have started a Facebook page called “Bishop Finn Must Go”. They have also circulated a petition.
Just three years ago, Finn settled 47 lawsuits and paid out $10 million for sexual abuse cases. He also agreed on a long list of preventative measures. Among these was the fact that suspects would be reported immediately to the authorities.
The indictment against Finn was announced on Friday. It had been under seal since October 6 as the bishop had been out of the country.
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