Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Full Story on Bishop Finn


"Let's step outside and settle this thing like men," she said, and she was a lady. "You're spewing anti-Catholic rhetoric!" he insisted. "How can you criticize a bishop when you're an actor and everyone knows actors are perverts and nitwits," she screamed. (That last gal had a point).


These are all reactions to my post last week about Rod Dreher's article on Bishop Finn's Indictment.


And above all, people are charging me with believing the biased media coverage of the scandal.


This, at least, is not true. In fact, everything I say in this post will be taken not from a media account of the scandal, but from the independent report on it as commissioned by the diocese, the Graves Report, which you can read on your own here.


So let's shove the media aside and see for ourselves what's contained in this internal diocesan report conducted by an independent firm.


***


Fr. Shawn Ratigan was a priest of the diocese of Kansas City - St. Joseph, Missouri. While pastor of St. Patrick's Parish (a parish with a grade school), his behavior around children raised many red flags. There were several incidents of "boundary violation", in which Fr. Ratigan held girls on his lap or tried to spend time with them alone while waiting for rides. At one function, he began rubbing a girl's back until her father angrily pulled her away. A pair of girl's panties was found in Fr. Ratigan's back yard planter.


In December, 2010, a computer technician servicing Fr. Ratigan's laptop discovered hundreds of photographs of young girls, apparently taken by Fr. Ratigan. Many were of children playing, the photographer focusing on their crotches and not including their faces. There were photos of girls climbing ladders in swim suits, focusing on their crotches. There were photos of girls wearing shorts sitting with their legs apart, focusing on their crotches. The girls appeared to be between eight and ten years old. One stash of photos was of a child in diapers. The series of photos ended with the diaper moved to the side, to reveal the girl's genitals and her bare buttocks. The photos were labeled with this toddler's name. Another series of photos was of a girl of about age seven, sleeping, but posed in sexually provocative ways while asleep. Her face was fully visible. The computer also contained links to internet sites advertising spy photo pens and two way mirrors.


The computer technician who made this discovery, his hands shaking, brought this laptop to the deacon at St. Patrick's and showed him the photos. The deacon immediately took the laptop to Msgr. Murphy, the Vicar General of the diocese, and Bishop Finn's right hand man. Before he viewed the images, Msgr. Murphy called and asked a friend of his who was a police officer if a single photo of a nude girl on a laptop "in a non-sexual pose" constituted child pornography. The officer answered that it might, but, particularly if it were of a family member, it would probably not be prosecuted.


This was the only contact the diocese made with the police until the following May. For, even after Msgr. Murphy viewed the images, and after it became clear that these images were not of family members, and that they were of a sexual nature, and that they were almost certainly photos Fr. Ratigan had taken of children in the diocese, neither Msgr. Murphy nor any one else involved in this case, contacted the police for nearly six months.


As soon as the pictures were discovered, Fr. Ratigan tried to kill himself, leaving a note saying he was sorry for what he had done. He survived his suicide attempt and was sent to a psychologist in Philadelphia who specializes in treating priests with problems. And yet, after interviewing Fr. Ratigan, and even after viewing the pictures which were pulled from Fr. Ratigan's laptop, the psychologist concluded he was not a pedophile. He was just lonely. And depressed. Why? Because the principal of the school was "out to get him," having complained about his inappropriate behavior around children. It was her fault, not his.


The diagnosis being evidently wrong, there were at least a few people in the Chancery Office who advised Bishop Finn to seek a second opinion. He did not.


At one point the legal counsel for the diocese told Msgr. Murphy that an attempt should be made to identify the children in the photographs, particularly if they were children in the diocese, as it appeared they were - victims of a child pornographer, and perhaps of other more violent sexual abuse at his hands. Legal Counsel also advised Msgr. Murphy to report this case to the Missouri Division of Family Services.


But contrary to the advise of counsel (and contrary to common sense, not to mention Christian charity), no one made any attempt to identify these victims or to reach out to their families.


No one made any report to the Division of Family Services.


In fact, no one even bothered to report the incident to the Independent Review Board, as required by diocesan "Protecting God's Children" policies!


Bishop Finn then assigns Fr. Ratigan to a Vincentian Retreat Center ... where school groups often go on retreats. He tells Fr. Ratigan to stay away from computers, cameras and children, but he allows him to say Mass for the school groups.


The Vincentian leaders at the retreat house adamantly claim that they were never informed of these restrictions on Fr. Ratigan, nor were they told he was a pedophile with a flair for child pornography; they thought he was simply recovering from his suicide attempt. Bishop Finn says he informed them of the full story; they say he did not. In fact, they told the firm conducting the independent review that if they had known the full scope of the situation, they would not have let Fr. Ratigan live with them. In any event, no one was placed in a supervisory role over Fr. Ratigan. He was living entirely unsupervised.


Immediately, Fr. Ratigan began using Facebook. He started attending public events and St. Patrick's parish-family events where children were present, including a birthday party for a sixth grade girl. He started glad handing parishioners, telling them the reason he had not been re-assigned to St. Patrick's was that the principal was "out to get him". Against the Bishop's directives, he made contact with children on retreat at the center, and on Easter Sunday - Easter Sunday - he tried to take pornographic pictures of a girl at the center.


Bishop Finn was informed of all of these violations of the "honor code" he had placed on Fr. Ratigan and yet Bishop Finn admitted that, as late as May of 2011, he had (in his own words) "not formulated a plan to further address Fr. Ratigan's behavior if he continued to violate restrictions".


By the middle of May, Msgr. Murphy eventually let his policeman friend know of the full scope of the situation - that the laptop contained not one photo of a nude girl in a non-provocative pose (as he had told him earlier), but hundreds of photos of girls, all of a lascivious nature. The police officer said, "You never told me that," and informed Msgr. Murphy that the diocese should immediately turn the laptop over to the police.


But instead the laptop was given to Bishop Finn, who gave it to Fr. Ratigan's brother, who (naturally) destroyed it.


And while copies remained of the photos, the original evidence (the laptop and its hard drive), including any other cached information the police could have obtained, is now gone for good.


***


Now, Bishop Naumann makes a passioned defense of his brother bishop, and points out that many in the Kansas City media are viciously pro-abortion and will stop at nothing to destroy the Catholic Church. Bishop Naumann, I'm sure this is true.


And many lay folk have pointed out to me that Bishop Finn is orthodox in his teaching and has boldly attacked pornography, for example. I'm sure that this is true as well.


But have we come to a stage where we are so desperate for orthodox bishops that we turn a blind eye to their other shortcomings? Are we so defensive against our own sins that we refuse to acknowledge where we fall shy of virtue, simply because other sinners are pointing our failures out to us?


And how do we expect to turn the hearts of the pro-abortion zealots in the Kansas City media if we don't even have the gumption to protect a two-year-old girl who's being victimized while asleep by one of our priests? Why on earth would they listen to us about the evils of killing unborn babies when we won't even do anything to protect a sleeping two-year-old from a predator?


Because, my friends, it comes down to this.


Bishop Finn and his Vicar General knew that children under their care had been exploited and abused. Bishop Finn and his Vicar General did nothing to identify or protect those children. Instead, and incredibly, when the story finally broke, Bishop Finn and his Vicar General instructed that the parish of St. Patrick's hold listening sessions at which parents were asked to write down one "hurt" and one "hope".


As the Graves Report states, two "hurts" collected at listening sessions included the following ...


***


The images of my daughter's private areas that the FBI showed me, they are forever burned into my brain. Shawn Ratigan was in my house, around my children in February, and I thought my children were completely SAFE!!


***


You let one of your priests hurt my children and you saw the pictures and decided to cover it up. That monster was in my house in February 2011 to prey on my children and I let him in since you felt you were above the law and made that decision not to turn in photos of my kids.


***


So those of you out there who are offering to take me out back and fight me, those of you who think I'm an anti-Catholic filled with hatred and Chick-tract rhetoric, those of you who think that if a human being happens to be an actor, he should not be allowed to write about this, answer one question for me ...


What would you say to these parents? Or better yet, if Fr. Ratigan had taken pictures of your sleeping two-year-old girl and removed her diapers to take a spy-pen snapshot of her vagina and her bare butt for use on his computer, and perhaps molested her and the diocese never bothered to tell you this, and never bothered to warn you not to let this man back in your house, or reach out to make sure you and your daughter got the help you needed (all the while the beg letters for the annual diocesan appeal kept coming in the mail) ... what would you put down on the "hurt" card? What would you "share" as your "hope" during the listening session while somewhere a man we call father masturbates to a picture of your sleeping two-year-old?


Perhaps Bishop Finn should not be tried for this misdemeanor (failure to report the crime in a timely manner) in the criminal courts of my state. I think a case could be made either way. But one thing I'm sure he should do.


He should repent in sack cloth and ashes and beg the forgiveness of every girl dancing naked in Fr. Ratigan's dreams. For he had the ability to reach out and offer help and the love of Christ to these girls and their parents, and he did not do it.

99 comments:

Katy said...

You did a very good thing in writing this. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I wish I hadn't read this post. I'm quite outraged. If we can't trust our orthodox bishops to protect our children, who can we trust?

Dr. Eric

spiritfilled63146 said...

Great piece of writing and reason....

Tom Leith said...

Yeah. It ain't all heterodox vs. orthodox either. It seems to me it is a combination of institutional thinking vs. "family" thinking, and conflict avoidance vs. problem resolution.There is a great deal to say about the Protecting God's Children thing -- it should really be called Defending God's Lawsuits & Throwing the Helpers of God's Helpers Under the Bus & Every Child is a Potential Plaintiff. But the whole program comes from institutional thinking! This is exactly what we need less of.

Br. Gabriel Thomas, OP said...

This points out a number of disturbing realities. I'll leave the shock and outrage for others. I'll say, however, that the commenter who said it is not about doctrinal fidelity is correct. These are issues of poor judgment that leads to the harm of others. My constant question is about the solution to this problem.

One thing I'm sure of is that the Child Protection Policies (and any protection policies for that matter) are not a sufficient solution. They are merely a beginning at a solution. I strongly believe that in priestly formation there should be basic classes on business administration. Basic corporate practices would have seriously mitigated the harm done in this case. Unfortunately, seminarians are not properly trained in basic administrative skills and so, likewise, neither are our Bishops.

While it is true that the Church is not a business, nor are clergy businessmen, we could learn something from the American business world, baptize it, and use some its better standards for the benefit of the people of God.

Anonymous said...

I think the key is to continue to improve the seminaries, weeding out those who have any sort of sexual or psychological problems. We have done an incredibly poor job of this in the last few decades. That's why we're getting bishops who can't lead or stand up for what's right. We need John Wayne bishops, not Peewee Herman bishops.

The bad news is that it will take some time to replace the many poor bishops we have in office now.

The good news is, the seminaries ARE getting better. It'll just take a while to get some of the good guys in position to be bishops.

As the old saying goes, "The wheels of the gods grind very slowly, but they grind exceedingly fine."

Anonymous said...

I heard of this yesterday from someone who knows Bishop Finn and who is upset about this - but also angry at Bishop Finn for what he did and for what he failed to do. This is so sick - Bishop Finn should resign from office and go on a retreat to some Monastery for having failed as Shepherd and for having enabled a sick priest to continue his sick behavior...why won't Bishops stand for their flock and protect them.

Anonymous said...

It is astonishing to me that you cannot see that the Vicar General is the villain here. At every step of the way - he is the one who minimized the situation and withheld evidence.

Why Finn is the ultimate bad guy here is beyond me. It is obvious that Murphy was protecting Ratigan - for whatever reason.

WHY is no one writing impassioned blog posts and articles begging to know why MURPHY did what he did?

E

Anonymous said...

Thanks for writing this. It's not an orthodox vs. heterodox thing, it's the clerical protection racket, "the good ole boys" network, in operation. I don't understand why conservative Catholics allow themselves to get played like this by bishops. If I was in Bishop Finn's place, I would have resigned post haste. Almost unbelievable how blind to justice the VG and Bishop were.

Investigate, and if found guilty by the civil trial, drive him from office.

FrMichael

Robert said...

I knew the general outline of the story, and was inclined to lean in favor of Bp Finn, but I'll say this now as a faithful Catholic and a father of a little girl: I am utterly at a loss to comprehend, in any sense, how a Bishop, or a Priest, could be aware of what was on Ratigan's computer and NOT immediately call in the police, and NOT immediately hand over to the police that laptop, and NOT make any effort to identify and contact the parents of those children. It boggles the mind. This is not rocket science. The taker and possessor of such photos is obviously a disturbed person and a danger. It is simple common sense and basic Charity, especially for those who hear Jesus preach: It were better that they be cast into the sea with a millstone around their necks, than that any of these little ones come to harm. Forget about seminary training. Is Bishop Finn a Christian? Is the Chancellor a Christian? I even wonder about the police officer who didn't ask more questions. I simply cannot imagine seeing or knowing about that laptop and those pictures and essentially doing nothing, not as a father, not as priest, certainly not as a Bishop!!!

A Young Priest said...

The real problem is LEADERSHIP. There are many players involved in this scenario, but none of them exercised good leadership.

A good leader must lead! He must lead when he's required to stand against an erring priest. He must lead in the situation and not let the circumstances around him lead the situation.

Better leadership training is necessary for priests and bishops. And not the kind from the business world. Rather, the kind that fits the very nature of the Church on earth: the Church MILITANT should have the kind of leadership training offered by the military.

Anonymous #100 said...

The Graves report also says:

"Msgr.  Murphy  told  the  Bishop  of  Fr. 
Ratigan’s suicide attempt, the situation with the laptop, and Ms. Creech’s findings, although 
he  did  not  give  the  Bishop  a  copy  of  her  memorandum  and  it  is  not  clear  what  details 
Bishop Finn was provided Bishop Finn states that he never viewed the photos from the 
laptop, but they have been described to him." (p. 94).

Readers should not assume the bishop had the information we have now, or that the descriptions were entirely accurate.

Msgr. Murphy appears to be the weakest link in the chain. He described one or two photographs to police experts, and then didn't follow up for months. (To his credit, he is also the one who finally reported the priest, but the delay was inexcusable.)

Anonymous said...

Just finished this post. If the facts as presented are accurate and the complete story.(I did not fact check to the referred document) then there is only one option; both the Vicar General and the Bishop must resign. They have failed to protect children. The circumstances are too extreme to a"second chance". This one is black and white. For the vast majority of Bishops and Priests that are good men doing God's will, the failure of the Bishop and Vicar General have harmed these children and the whole of God's Church. Day One the laptop should have gone to the police and justice done for everyone involved. Christ created the Church to guide/help us achieve sainthood and eternal life with God. The decisions outlined in this post were short sighted and against Truth. " As you have done to the least of my brothers you have done to me".

Anonymous said...

It seems from this as if the most likely scenario is that the vicar general gave the same misleading version of the facts to the bishop as he initially did to the police. I think that clearly the bishop has an awful lot of explaining to do but not as much as the vicar general.

Dave from San Juan Cap. CA said...

This case should proceed to trial(it's a misdemeanor anyway). It is about time one of these bishops that covered up be made to answer to society. Then if the charges are made up a jury can decide. If the charges are valid, let the perp serve the time. Maybe then these bishops will think twice about covering up. The cover up is always looked on as worse than the the crime. Ask Nixon.

Jack said...

Why didn't the computer repairman turn the computer in to the police?

Why did HE cover it up?

Why isn't the law going after HIM?

eneubauer said...

Thanks for writing this article. The most difficult part of this story is that our leaders continue to make horrible mistakes. We have to be above this. By now one would think that as SOON as this surfaced one would go straight to the POLICE. This is not rocket science.

For those wondering who is a fault. Both!

Nathaniel M. Campbell said...

As a historian of the faith, it utterly baffles me that the hierarchy has fallen so far from grace. There was a time (I specialize in the eleventh and twelfth centuries) when abbots and abbesses, bishops, cardinals, and popes -- men and women whom we now call saints! -- openly and vehemently decried sometimes the smallest shortcomings of priests. How could men whom we trust to hold the Body of Christ do so with hands so dirty and perverted!

We need a new reform of the Church, one which will return her to the undefiled dawn of justice, the holy simplicity of the apostles and martyrs. We need a Church who answers to her Bridegroom, not the princes of the world. We need a Church whose shepherds keep and feed their sheep, not prey upon them as wolves.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone tell me why the police weren't involved from the beginning? Why didn't the principal call the police?
The policy in our family is to inform the church and the police - let things shake out as they may. Frankly, I don't trust that the church will protect our children. And I think the called to protect program creates an atmosphere of trust - we've covered all our bases and we are safe. The lack of good catechisis and education has created a lack of knowledge of the nature of good and evil - it is always lurking and we must always be vigilant with our children and their eternal life.

Clare Krishan said...

Have our Bishops read Wojtylas' Radiation of Fatherhood?
http://radiationoffatherhood.wordpress.com/tag/pope/

n.b. a lack of social empathy is a symptom of Aspergers. IMHO the conduct of both priests and their bishop exhibits signs of this disordered inclination. Its not a comfortable explanation, but I'm willing to entertain the notion that better formation could prevent Aspies being admitted to the clerical state in the future, but that would require an openness to discussing the merits or lack thereof, not an easy thing to do in the politically correct environment we live in.

Clare Krishan said...

At minimum every priest, parochial school teacher and church volunteer should have a copy of the chart on page 150 of this book

http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0813209412/ref=sib_ab_av_pg?ie=UTF8&p=S076&checkSum=EOLhwoblhYGV%2BF%2B8t9Fc59eTS9J99niHZVzq0Ek7kTU%3D

the communio personarum, our original solitude or incommunicability.
We NEED the Holy Spirit to come to our assistance in order to act in accordance with our dignity as human persons, reflexive love is mutual gift, it NEVER harms another

Anonymous said...

I think we have to take a serious look at these supposed boundary violations and what they are manifestations of. No parent wants their child sexualized or objectified, and it matters not to the parent whether the one doing the sexualized ogling is a priest or a guy at the local pool or marketers with designs on the parents' wallets. I agree that it is outrageous and it is up to the Catholic faithful to say so.

Brother Rolf said...

Is anyone naïve enough to think that John Paul could be in charge for 26 years and not know what was going on around the world?

Anonymous said...

I have no comment on the actions of Bishop Finn. Simply because I cannot, in good conscious say that I honestly know the facts of the situation. I can, however, speak as a mother of a two year old girl and ask, who in their right mind would allow anybody access to their sleeping child??? Why would any parent want to even risk waking their child? My point is, as a parent, it is my responsibility to make sure my children are safe. No one elses. If I had reason to believe one of my children's teachers were being innapropriate and saw actual sexual misconduct, I'd report it..not just to the principal, but to the police as well. If I had reason to beleive my priest was sexually innapropriate...and saw innapropriate misconduct, like the principal and some of the teachers did...I would have reported it to the church and the police.

Bos Mutissimus said...

Mr. O'Brien: I would encourage you to re-consider the naming of the post. To have read the Graves report without a broader understanding of the history of the KC-SJ diocese hardly constitutes a "Full Story."

For those who maintain the line of thinking that there was some sort of cover-up involved, do remember that it was Bp. Finn who commissioned Graves to do the report in the first place. Hardly the action of a man interested in concealing wrongdoing.

Warmest Regards

Anonymous said...

The enemies of the Church may think they scored big with this indictment, but innocent or not, I think they picked the wrong target.

You may Like them or not, but Opus Dei is full of lawyers and they are not going to let one of their own go down.
Expect the neo-cons and Americanists to circle the wagons when this is tried on Chaput. And they will go after Chaput next

Margaret Catherine said...

Sorry - Asperger's is a "disordered inclination?" Men with Asperger's are unfit for the priesthood? Is this some bad parody of our language about homosexuality, or are you actually serious?

Margaret Catherine said...

(^^^ To Clare.)

Tom Leith said...

> Basic corporate practices would
> have seriously mitigated the harm
> done in this case.

I think a good part of the problem is the Bishops are using basic corporate practices, at the behest of their attorneys.

> Why didn't the computer
> repairman turn the computer
> in to the police?

He could have. The report tells you why he didn't.

> Why isn't the law going
> after HIM?

Because a computer repairman is not a mandated reporter.

> Bishop Finn should
> resign from office

I don't. I think Bishop Finn is a good Bishop and can't be equated with Cardinal Law or Archbishop Weakland. I think he should plead guilty and correct himself.

Here's a corporate story: Manager fouls-up big time but in reasonably good faith. Costs his company $10MM. "I guess you're going to fire me" he says to his boss. Boss says "I just spent $10MM training you -- you think I want to lose my investment?"

Enlightened management. This is completely salvageable for Bishop Finn and the Church. We don't have to lose him, but it is largely up to him whether or not we do.

> it's the clerical
> protection racket

To some extent, yes. Give credit though: Bishop Finn did contact the police & denounced Ratigan. Too late, yes. Again: he's not Law or Weakland. Bishops generally haven't got the balance between "treat their priests as a father and brother" and "cooperate with civil authorities" and "protect the flock". It is this failure precicely that has led to mandatory reporter laws.

> Why Finn is the ultimate
> bad guy here is beyond me.

Because he's the ultimate (in the sense "last" or "highest") authority. If anyone should understand the concept respondeat superior it is a Catholic bishop. There is a related concept also: Qui facit per alium facit per se (cf. “ways of being an accessory to the sin of another”).

But I don't think he's a Bad Guy. I think he did what most any father in a family would do: try to resolve the problem internally and when that fails to stop ongoing harm, bring in the civil authorities. Problem is the repeated failures of Bishops and School Administrators and many, many others have given us Mandatory Reporting laws, which must be respected.

His Excellency was clearly trying to avoid a conflict. Maybe he was trying not to lose a lawsuit. Maybe he was trying to avoid criminal prosecution for Rev. Ratigan. Maybe he was trying to avoid publicity. I do not think he was trying to deny the existence of a problem or avoid dealing with it entirely. So I think the best thing he can do now is plead guilty and become a good example. If Msgr. Murphy is indicted, he should plead guilty too.

DHoskins said...

Kevin, what you wrote was a service to the Church and to American society as a whole because there was no "measuring of words", no "parsing", no political correctness, just the God's honest truth! Thank you for trying to save the Church from itself. You are one reason that the Gates of Hell will not prevail!

John Bradley said...

It is the coverup not the crime which causes damage to the Church.

Anonymous said...

Bishop Finn and I were classmates in seminary. I am sorry for his trouble but if this is the way he handled this matter I would tell him to his face that he has been very imprudent.
I do not know why exactly, but there is a great lack of "common sense" in the Catholic clergy. It seems this is another case.

Anonymous said...

Thank you sir for writing this. We all needed to here the facts. I will pray everyday for these families that where abused. June

Dave said...

I think everyone should read the entire Graves report before commenting. I believe Kevin's synopsis itself paints a bit of a skewed picture.

At least, when *I* read the Graves report, it was clear to me that Msgr. Murphy is the villain of this story, who either intentionally or unintentionally, misled other high diocesan authorities into thinking he had already shown the pictures to police, and was told that they were NOT child pornography.

In fact, he had not shown any pictures to the police, and only described ONE picture (which the policeman thought was the ONLY picture) to the policeman. (In addition, the policeman was probably wrong in his answer.)

This case isn't a conspiracy, except maybe on the part of Msgr. Murphy. What it is, is a clusterflub.

Bishop Finn also made mistakes in the case, but I am not sure how anyone reading the full report can conclude that he is responsible, nor how the prosecutor decided to charge him personally. Unless there is evidence that contradicts the Graves report, there is no way the facts will support the charge against him. Now, if they wanted to charge Msgr. Murphy, that would be a whole 'nuther story.

Revrend John Lunness said...

Amen & God Bless you!!!! It seems any voice of reason is anathama in the eyes of some hierarchy & some of the faithfull. Logic, sadly, seems not to have a place in this awful,evil issue.

Anonymous said...

If the Vicar General and Bishop were not following their policy, they should admit it and resign. I appreciate the information and pray for the victims and their families and that the Church heiarchy puts pressure on the KC hierarch to take appropraite action. I also pray other Bishops and clergy learn from this.
Bill

Anonymous said...

We simply CANNOT have a bishop or anyone in authority, with such an appalling lack of common sense and right judgment.

Bye Bye Finn. Submit your resignation and disappear into solitude until your end.

Anonymous said...

Tom Leith:

Sorry. If the bishop is misinformed and misled - and if the bishop takes the proper steps once he is properly informed - then he is not the ultimate bad guy.

Why is Vicar General Murphy being spared questioning and indictment? He is the one who originally let this pass.

Vidman said...

The Vicar General is the bad guy. Biship Finn is the head of the Diocese and therefore will accept punishment here...I pray that he survives this and that his first act afterwards is to Sack his Vicar General and banish him to a monastery somewhere.

Anonymous said...

An anonymous comment a few comments up made the argument that the VG is the real bad guy here. Quite frankly, while I appreciate the Graves Report and Bishop Finn's willingness to commission it, I don't consider it the last word. I'll be content to wait for the police report, depositions, and trial testimony taken under oath. Once people are sweating perjury, then we'll see some of these unanswered questions and motivations get resolved.

FrMichael

Anonymous said...

If Ratigan's collection is in fact child porn and if Msgr. Murphy selected the worst example and described it to a policeman how could the policeman conclude that the photo was not illegal? How could all the people who saw the photos not conclude they were illegal child porn?

Honestly I think the case against both the Bishop and against Ratigan are very flawed. Ratigan should have been arrested for violation of privacy crimes. He should be in a cave in the desert. But if the photos as described are illegal child porn (with a 15 year prison sentence) then we better build more jails to house all the Hollywood movie makers, all the art photographers etc...

jfc said...

This blog is not “The Full Story on Bishop Finn.” It leaves out, for example, that Msgr. Murphy left Bishop Finn and others in the Chancery “under the impression that the laptop pictures had actually been shown to Capt. Smith” (a police officer on the Independent Review Board) and only corrected that impression after Shawn Ratigan was arrested.

This account also omits mention that Msgr. Murphy contacted legal counsel the day after the laptop was discovered and was advised by attorney Jon Haden of Lathrop and Gage, after he had been provided with the laptop and copies of the images, that “In his legal opinion, because the picture was of a nude child but did not show sexual conduct, contact, performance, or sexually explicit conduct, it was not child pornography.”

This account fails to mention that, although whether the Vincentian leaders were informed of Fr. Ratigan’s situation is disputed, it is not disputed that the leaders of the adjoining Franciscan Sisters were informed and that it was at the Franciscan Retreat Center that Fr. Ratigan was functioning.

This account fails to mention that when Bishop Finn asked Mr. Haden whether it was okay to return the laptop to the family, Haden advised him that “because they had a copy of all the material from the laptop on a flash drive there would be no potential for destruction of evidence.”

It is clear to me that Msgr. Murphy bears primary responsibility for this mess, and I’m amazed that the prosecutor hasn’t targeted him. Still, it’s also clear that Bishop Finn made mistakes—something he has freely acknowledged. Whether he’s guilty of a crime is now a matter for the criminal justice system.

Anonymous said...

As we all learned when we entered the military; "a commander is responsible for everything that does or does not happen in his command". Do you think it not reasonable that the Bishop would have asked to see the photos in question? Why has the Vatican stated that they do not intend to intervene in this case?

ben said...

I agree that Msgr Murphy is the real bad guy in the Chancery Office, but Bp Finn is displaying incredibly poor judgement keeping him around. I know that he moved responsibility for these issues to someone else, but "Vicar General" is a pretty high position and Msgr Murphy has shown NO ability to function in that role. If Bishop Finn had sent Murphy packing the same day as Fr Ratigan, I'd feel more confident in his ability to keep his diocese under control. As it is, it smells like a good old boy's network.

Here's the thing: this isn't theft, or bribery, or fraud. This is pedophilia. Doesn't Bp Finn or Msgr Murphy ever read the newspaper or watch the news? Are they so tone-deaf that they wouldn't think to be extra vigilant on this issue? Maybe a priest can get away with skimming a little from the collection plate. Maybe a layman working in the Chancery office can have an affair and people will shrug their shoulders and let the institution take care of things. But not this. Have they ever heard of Dallas, Boston, Orange County or LA? Don't they know that even know lawyers are trying to indict the Pope himself? Didn't they ever think to err on the side of caution? Instead Msgr Murphy does a minimal amount of investigation, Bishop Finn yells at his priest and then they go to a Christmas party. Business as usual.

What were they thinking?

Kevin O'Brien said...

JFC,

Your defense of the diocese is lame at best. The fact is that many people in addition to Msgr. Murphy had seen all of the images - but we are to believe that Bishop Finn believed they were not child pornography based on a hearsay report by his Vicar General?

Let me focus on one the most flagrant assertion of yours: 'This account fails to mention that when Bishop Finn asked Mr. Haden whether it was okay to return the laptop to the family, Haden advised him that “because they had a copy of all the material from the laptop on a flash drive there would be no potential for destruction of evidence.”'

If this really was the legal advise Bishop Finn got, he should fire this law firm.

The FBI and local police have experts who specialize in the forensics of Information Technology. There was potentially a treasure trove of information on that hard drive which the diocese had not yet discovered.

And what on earth would make Bishop Finn ask that question any way? The first question in my mind at that point would not have been, "Oh, the police want to see the laptop. Let me check with my attorney to see if it's safe to destroy it."

Kevin O'Brien said...

At any rate, as JFC keeps pointing out, there are many things my account fails to mention, as this post was intended as a summary of the 141-page original. I encourage my readers to read the original report and decide for themselves.

Anonymous said...

Kevin:

do you understand how a diocese works?

Do you understand that a bishop delegates responsibility for certain matters?

So if Finn delegated Vicar General Murphy to deal with clergy matters that did not require his (Finn's) direct involvement...that is what he trusted him to do. A bishop cannot be the front line for every issue that comes up. He delegates that role to others - trusting that they will act justly and morally and bring matters to him that truly require his involvement and intervention.

Clearly his trust in Murphy was misplaced.

But there is nothing wrong with that arrangement. It is - in fact - necessary. Even in a relatively small diocese a bishop must delegate - even in clergy matters.

Of course the risk is always that important information will be withheld from the bishop and that those surrounding him will work out of their own personal and ideological agendas rather than working for Christ. A bishop must know this and not place his complete trust in a single person. He must be wary and have various sets of eyes and ears working from different perspectives.

But the basic arrangement - as I said - it is not unreasonable/insane/immoral. If a bishop had to be the front line on every diocesan matter - he would never sleep and would probably go mad.

Certainly if Finn had a reason to mistrust Murphy he would have said - "let me see the pictures" or "tape your converation with Ratigan so I can ascertain that you are telling me the truth" - but at that point he didn't. So what should he have done?

(I remind you that *we do not know what Murphy originally told Finn about the situation.* I am convinced he downplayed it and told the bishop not to worry about it. That he would handle it.)

Lisa

Joe O'Leary said...

I note some posters here resist the urge to rush to judgment, and I think rightly. When all this is thrashed out in a court of law we may discover wide margins for changing our opinion.

Dave said...

Kevin,
My understanding from reading the report is that the laptop had already been given back to Fr. Ratigan's brother long before the police asked for it. If Bp. Finn actually gave it to the brother WHEN the police asked for it, that would be a grave concern indeed.

And yes, the legal firm appears to have given awful advice here, and should not be retained.

Of course, I guess we will see at trial whether everything in the report is truthful, but as it appears so far, it's a clusterflub, but one in which Bp. Finn is towards the back of the line, in apportioning the blame.

Kevin O'Brien said...

Lisa,

The bishop knew there were hundreds of pictures of parishioners between the ages of 2 and 10 on Fr. Ratigan's computer, pictures of a lascivious nature, taken secretly for anything but innocent purposes, whatever the law makes of the situation. These children were victimized. He made no attempt to contact these children or their families, nor did he warn them when he released Fr. Ratigan unsupervised back into the community.

That's the heart of this story, and that's what his excellency should repent of - negligence at best, cover-up at worst - but however you look at it, however you spin it, it was a blatant un-Christian disregard for the most innocent lives under his care.

Tom Leith said...

> That's the heart of this story

And the heart of the legal story is that reasonable suspicion of child abuse was not timely reported.

The heart of the PR story is that fighting it is worse than not fighting it.

The heart of the leadership story is that it was poor. The good news is that people learn from experience.

And the heart of the Organizational Design question for the Church has to do with the question of how clerics (who are never "off duty") should be supervised.

Fr. Allen said...

I had read over the facts of this case as it played out in the media. The facts speak clearly that the bishop broke civil laws, as did the vicar general most likely; they're both mandatory reporters.

Emotion should not hold up swift prosecution and justice. The bishop broke the law to protect his own, and thank God we gave laws to protect children from the predators who consider Priesthood a good place to hide out.

Sorry Bishop, but the laws are clear and they are not canonical. Man up and pay the price.

Anonymous said...

Kevin - the Bishop did not know who the children in the photos were (ref. p113 of the report). None of the parents nor the anonymous posters have any idea if any of their own children were pictured. Calling in parents and making a big hoopla would have served no purpose. Announcing that Ratigan is a sex criminal would have also served no purpose.

Since the photos on Ratigan's computer are gone the only way we can judge their content is by the reaction of the people who saw them. That reaction was that the photos were creepy, perverted and that Ratigan needed to stay away from children. However, no one seemed to think the photos were actually illegal child porn. No one suspected that any actual child had been abused. So all I can conclude is that the photos were not children engaged in sexual acts. I cannot explain why Captain Smith seems to think that one photo is fine but 100 photos is a Federal crime carrying a 15 year minimum sentence.

I do not think the Bishop's actions are so incomprehensible. I do not think the Bishop committed a crime in not reporting something that did not exist.

Kevin O'Brien said...

Anonymous,

The photos are not gone. The photos were saved and will be used in the criminal prosecutions. You need to read more carefully.

But as to your assertion that the bishop's hands were tied because the children could not be identified - that is hogwash for the following reasons: the naked two-year-old was identified on the computer. The photos were saved in a folder labeled with her name. Also, the FBI were able to identify the children and approach their parents with the evidence to confirm the identificiation, once the Feds became involved.

The reason Captain Smith did not think the original photo described to him (a photo that Msgr. Murphy had not yet seen when he described it; it was an entirely hypothetical description) was the kind of child pornography that would be prosecuted was not because there was only one photo and not one hundred; it was because Msgr. Murphy described the photo as being "non sexual" in nature; whereas obviously these photos were all taken for the sexual arousal of Fr. Ratigan.

I find it interesting that the defenders of Bishop Finn were silent while the comboxes lit up the first few days following this post. Now that things have calmed down a bit, the defenders have appeared. God bless you for your loyalty to the man, but your loyalty is misplaced.

Dave said...

From my reading, Bishop Finn's two main faults were:

1) Trusting Msgr. Murphy as to his characterization of the pictures and interactions with the police (which at least with the benefit of hindsight, was misplaced.) Dr. Fitzgibbons head-scratching diagnosis also tended to confirm the Bishop's mistaken impression that the problem was less grave than it really was.

2) It seems he was too lenient, even giving him some leeway due to not being aware of just how bad the pictures were, in keeping tabs on Fr. Ratigan's behavior after his reassignment and failing to follow up with more discipline in a timely way when Fr. didn't follow the restrictions.

I would apportion blame as follows (very rough estimates)

Msgr. Murphy - 70%
legal counsel Mr. Haden - 10%
Dr. Fitzgibbons - 8%
Bishop Finn - 7%
Other diocesan officials who saw pictures and could have taken action on their own - 5%

Sarah said...

Blame for each member of the hierarchy involved is 100%.

That there are people who claim to be Christians and who may be parents who defend the actions of these evil, evil men proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Catholic Church was never, is not now, and never will be a safe place for children. Ever.

That people are dickering over apportioning the appropriate amount of blame by percentage, like this is some stupid fender-bender auto insurance claim is sickening.

Dave said...

Sarah,
Your comment sounds like something I'd expect to hear at a witch trial.

Saying that maybe we shouldn't burn Bp. Finn at the stake (rush to judgment) and that he appears not to have been properly informed isn't the same as defending him.

Rather, it is you and your ilk who seize on any opportunity to demonize an entire group of people.

Would you also agree that all public school workers are evil, evil people since even MORE abuse happens there, and until recently was covered up? Also, all families are evil, evil people, because, in general, family members tend to disbelieve and/or cover up the abuse by their family members instead of reporting it to police.

The fact is: you have a will to believe that the Catholic Church is evil and you grab onto any justification you can find to prove it, even if it makes no sense.

Anonymous said...

Kevin - I am the "anonymous" above -there is no legal precedent what so ever for differentiating from a picture that is an odd and disturbing to many, many people and child porn to one perverted man. The crux of this case revolves around the legality of the photos as discovered by the Diocese. I am not sure about the named file with the 2 year old - was that in the photos on the computer or was that discovered in the later police search?

Regarding Capt. Smith: the law states that to be illegal the photos must be of sexual acts or of lascivious sexual displays. A picture of a naked child does not meet this definition. There are millions of "art" photographers who produce and sell extremely disturbing images of children that are perfectly legal (cf. Nan Goldin). Capt. Smith must know this and the DA certainly knows this. A picture cannot be illegal for one man and legal for another. Capt. Smith's original assessment sounds correct to me.

If the case against Finn is presented as "Bishop Covered Up Child Abuse" then he has no defenders. But Bishop Finn did not cover anything up and there was no child abuse. Ratigan has not been charged with abusing anyone. He is charged with creating child porn by taking pictures of children - and most of the counts are obvious nonsense (he should have been charged with violation of privacy crimes). Just to be sure I checked and Amazon is still selling DVD's of "Pretty Baby".

Kevin O'Brien said...

Anonymous,

I see your point. But we're not really arguing legal technicalities here - we're talking basic human dignity and the Church's failure to protect it in this case. The point of my post is not to pass judgment one way or another on the legal aspect of this case; I am looking at the basic moral failure of the people involved.

When you say that children who are used for child pornography are not victimized, you are wrong. Taking pictures of children for the purpose of sexual arousal is victimizing them. It is a victimization that may not be as horrible as rape, but it is a victimization. Beyond that, there's the question of what else happened in addition to the pictures. If Fr. Ratigan was moving the diapers of a sleeping two-year-old to photograph her ... well, at the very least her parents would wonder what else had happened and would insist this man never have access to their child again, whether the photos rise to the level of a prosecutorial offense or not.

This girl and her parents were victimized. The diocese ignored that entirely until they were forced to deal with it, and then they dealt with it not with anything resembling the love of Christ, but with insincere pop psychology and "sharing" exercises. This is what is infuriating about this case, all legal definitions aside.

Sarah said...

Anyone who abuses a child or helps cover up that abuse, or helps assist an abuser in procuring victims is evil.

Each specific person has to be held accountable under the law.

If you break the law, you are 100% responsible for breaking that law. Finn broke the law. It's not anyone else's fault that he broke the law.

That's not a witch hunt.

That the Catholic Church remains a dangerous place for children is the fault of those who would excuse Finn's crimes.

Until the Catholic Church proves to the world that they will follow the law, it's never going to be a safe place for children, and the Kansas City situation is proof that they're not ready to do that.

You can call me a hater if you want, but I'd rather be guilty of hating child abusers than of excusing them. I'm happy to be guilty of that.

Dave said...

Sarah,
Firstly, there was no child abuse here, at least not that anybody is aware of. What we have, or at least what we have EVIDENCE of, is a guy who takes creepy pictures of young girls.

Bishop Finn removed Fr. Ratigan from parish ministry immediately upon finding out about the pictures. Due partially to his own fault, and partially because his Vicar General didn't correctly report the gravity of the pictures to him, he was too lax in enforcing the restrictions that he had placed on Fr. Ratigan.

Bishop Finn was led by his Vicar General to believe that he had run the pictures by the police and was told that it was not a matter for the law, and the Bishop trusted him, and thus of course did not report the matter to the police.

If you read the whole story for yourself, it is not as cut and dried as you seem to think. Bishop Finn made mistakes, but you can't really blame him for NOT REPORTING TO THE POLICE SOMETHING HE BELIEVED THAT THE VICAR GENERAL HAD ALREADY REPORTED.

That is why I am saying that the Vicar General is mostly to blame.

There have been cases in the past where a Bishop was clearly complicit in intentionally reassigning a known child abuser to other parishes. I make no defense for such Bishops. What I am saying is that this is not one of those cases, but some people are having knee-jerk reactions about it, not reading the whole story and jumping to the conclusion that it's the "same old same old".

Sarah said...

Oh, excuses, excuses. Please.

It's 2011.

The second Finn received word of the Ratigan issue, he should have taken full charge.

He didn't. He is to blame because he's the person in charge and he cared so little for the welfare of children that he passed the responsibility off to someone else (or so he says, it's not that his word is worth anything at this point).

The only thing that proves is that he's incompetent AND he broke the law.

No decent human being looks at the evidence, at the timeline, at the choices made by men who were in charge of protecting children and thinks anything else.

Sarah said...

Taking creepy pictures of young girls IS child abuse, anyway.

That you don't think so makes me glad no daughter of mine will ever be anywhere near you.

Dave said...

It's certainly not child abuse in the legal sense. Of course, it could fall under the umbrella of "child abuse" in another sense, as do many things. Thanks for demonizing me, though.

It's clearly not nearly as harmful as actual sexual abuse to the child. In fact, the child may be blissfully unaware. Of course, the perpetrator is a very messed-up individual regardless, and should definitely be investigated to ensure that there is no actual child abuse.

For the record, I have six kids, and would be enraged if that had happened to any of my kids.

Answer me this, though. If Bishop Finn thought that Msgr. Murphy had already shown the pictures to the police, why, exactly, do you think that Bishop Finn should have contacted the police personally?

In my opinion, you are engaging in "guilty until proven innocent" thinking in regards to Bishop Finn. I also don't think that it is necessarily wrong of him to allow lower diocesan officials to do the jobs that they have been entrusted to do.

He thought it was not a police matter. He reassigned him to a place where contact with children would be minimized. The one thing I blame him for is for not taking further action when it was clear he was not obeying the restrictions placed on him, though it is not clear what the further action could/should have been.

Sarah said...

Men who are quick to point out that rearranging a sleeping girl's limbs, and opening a diaper and exposing the genitalia of a sleeping infant aren't "techically" child abuse are flying too many red flags for any parent to consider them anything but dangerous, dangerous men.

"Blissfully" unaware...???

What are you, a card carrying member of NAMBLA -- or whatever the version of guys who like to diddle little girls is...??

You're sick. You're a sicko creep pervert, you animal. I hope the blog owner takes your IP addy and reports you to the police.

To promote opening a baby girl's diaper and exposing her genitals so you could take pictures as something that's just fine and dandy because it's not technically child abuse and she's blissfully unaware is DISGUSTING AND SICK!!!

You need to have your children taken away from you IMMEDIATELY.

I'm calling the FBI to track you down.

Dave said...

What the heck? Are you nuts?

If someone is taking a picture of you, and you don't know it, then yes, you are blissfully unaware, at least until you find out. Can you point out where I am wrong in that statement?

Put it this way. Would you rather have someone take disgusting pictures of your child under the table or when they are sleeping 1000 times, or have them actually be sexually abused physically once?

That's NOT to excuse what Fr. Ratigan did...not at ALL. It's extremely evil. Period. Did you miss the part where I said that the perpetrator is very messed up?

Please point out where I specified that it was OK to do anything like Fr. Ratigan did. Go ahead. I'm waiting.

Anyway, that is the end of this conversation. I believed I was conversing with a rational individual, but evidently I was wrong.

I'd recommend seeking professional help.

Anonymous said...

Mr. O’Brien,


I believe you misquoted me, at NO point in my post will you find the:
"Let's step outside and settle this thing like men,"
which you put between those quotation marks.



To refresh your obviously failing memory, this is what I wrote:



"Mr. O'Brien,

Bishop Finn is a good man, a loyal priest, and a holy Bishop, and I am demanding an apology of you, (if you have ANY honor at all) because you’re not only wrong, but dead wrong.

You had no right to compare MY good Bishop to Maciel, it was a disgusting and unnecessary insult. - You had no grounds for making it with as little information as you had.

If you do not feel like making an apology because you are too vain to concede that you were wrong, then, if you are man enough (which I strongly doubt) lets find a place where we can step out back and settle it there.


Very sincerely,
Jr.

- And God bless Bishop Finn!"




Again, Jr.

Lord have Mercy on you, you poor conceited old fool.

And GOD BLESS BISHOP FINN!!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you "E",

What you wrote makes reasonable sense.

Mary,

Anonymous said...

Kevin,
Can "Jr." take that as a no-go for the fight?

- If you do accept let us know the place,- I gotta see this!

ps. You DID quote her wrong.

Dean A.

Kevin O'Brien said...

Sorry, Jr! "Let's step outside and settle this thing like men" vs. "Let's find a place where we can step out back and settle it there." You got me!

And Jr. I am more than willing to admit that I am, as you claim, a poor conceited old fool. But at least there's one poor conceited old fool in the world who cares about victims of child abuse and pornography. Too bad there aren't more of us out there. Especially in your diocese.

Dave said...

I don't think that it's fair to say that Jr. doesn't care about child abuse and pornography simply because he doesn't agree that Bishop Finn is the overall bad guy here.

But apparently, unless one is willing to march in a flash mob with pitchfork and torch in hand against Bishop Finn, one is worthy of being called a "sicko creep pervert" or an "animal."

If one says that having a picture taken unbeknownst to the child is not nearly as harmful to the child as actually being sexually abused, they should be reported to the FBI.

For crying out loud...both sides are against child abuse and pornography. In my biased opinion, one side seems to be able to view things rationally and assign a reasonable share of blame to each person as it is due, while the other is acting like a Pavlovian dog, or at least letting their emotions run away with them.

Bp. Finn should have warned parents about Fr. Ratigan, especially after the first time that he showed he was not going to obey the restrictions. That's the only major strike I can find against him in this matter.

Kevin O'Brien said...

David, Jr. is a WOMAN. That's one of the reasons I won't fight her "out back".

Kevin O'Brien said...

I quote from a previous comment by Jr. - "I happen to be a girl - Jr. being my status NOT my initials."

Anyway, I've learned NEVER to fight a girl. They always win.

Dave said...

Kevin,

This whole comment thread is too bizarre for me. First, some deranged person has a hissy fit, calls me a pervert and an animal, and threatens to sic the FBI on me for saying that having creepy pictures taken of a child (unbeknownst to them) isn't as harmful to the child as actually being sexually abused.

Now, I don't see how your response relates to my comment at all. I never said that you should fight her, did I?!?!

My comment regarding Jr. was only about my perception that by saying "at least there's one poor conceited old fool in the world who cares about victims of child abuse and pornography. Too bad there aren't more of us out there. Especially in your diocese.", you were saying that those who think Bishop Finn is being unjustly treated in this situation don't care about child abuse and pornography.

Kevin O'Brien said...

Dave,

Yeah, I agree. Sarah over-reacted with you.

I think originally she was trying to say that arguing about who has what percent of responsibility as if this were a traffic accident is not in the proper spirit of facing the issue. I agree.

And you were pointing out simply that the victimization of pornography is not as violent as the victimization of rape. I agree with that, too.

I think you both made your points well, even though things escalated in a nasty way.

I was joking with you about commenter Jr. I know you weren't serious about me fighting her. I was just pointing out that she's a she, not a he.

Talk about escalting to absurdity! At least Jr.'s comments are fun to read, at any rate.

Dave said...

Kevin,
Thanks for your refreshing comment.

Perhaps she had a point about the percentages of fault. I was only really using that as a mechanism to get across that other people made bigger and more mistakes and should be the target of more anger than Bishop Finn.

The fact that he didn't have 0% meant he did deserve some criticism for his actions and inaction, but up until now, as far as I can see, almost ALL of the blame is going to him.

Given what he knew, I thought Bp. Finn actually did a pretty good job up until the time when he found out that Fr. Ratigan was not obeying the restrictions that were put on him. He dropped the ball after that.

Unless the Graves report is wrong on some major points, which is certainly possible, if the legal charge is "failure to report", the person being charged with that should be Msgr. Murphy IMO and not Bishop Finn.

Kevin O'Brien said...

Actually, Dave, I think the fault began when the Chancery knew that girls at St. Patrick's had been victimized and did not try to identify them (as the FBI did) or reach out to their families.

In fact, I can understand Bishop Finn's error on the side of trusting Fr. Ratigan too much, even though he foolishly put him in a situation where he would continue to have contact with children. I can understand that because trusting too much is an unbalanced virtue more than it is a vice.

But not reaching out to the children and to their families - making no attempt to identify them or help them - that is cowardice plain and simple and an unchristian disregard for the innocent.

Dave said...

That is a fair point. If I remember what I read correctly, it wasn't that they KNEW that the girls were from St. Patrick's, but they certainly must have suspected that it was the case, and they should have investigated that. It would be interesting to know why the ball was dropped on that.

Was the FBI able to actually identify some of the girls? I didn't see that in the report.

Kevin O'Brien said...

Dave, we know they were from this "hurt" card filled out by a parishioner: "The images of my daughter's private areas that the FBI showed me, they are forever burned into my brain."

I mean, it really would not have taken the FBI to identify these children. Although the FBI would have been able to do A LOT with the laptop and the now-destroyed hard drive, a lot more than the IT folks at the diocese, anyway.

Dave said...

It sounds like they found an external hard drive when they raided Fr. Ratigan's home anyway, with a lot more pictures. So, probably at worst, there would have been more charges of the same type.

Returning the laptop was stupid, but I don't think it was done out of malice.

Kevin O'Brien said...

David, I don't know if any of this was done out of malice. We can't infer the motivations involved.

But the one thing an internal hard drive would have shown that an external hard drive used only for storage would not have shown is internet activity and hidden caches of supposedly deleted items. Much more information on the laptop than on any external hard drive.

Anonymous said...

Mr. O'Brien,

Now you are misquoting yourself!
This is what you wrote:

""Let's step outside and settle this thing like men," she said, and she was a lady. "
NOT
""Let's find a place where we can step out back and settle it there." You got me!"

That's right mister, I got you, - And I got you twice!

Not sympathizing with victims of this sort of thing is the last thing I should reasonably be accused of;

- despite the most careful parents and quiet and sheltered home life, in early childhood I ended-up “running-into” two separate pervs, (not strangers mind you, these folks were jovial, trusted, family friends).


I know exactly what they are, what they do, and how they get away with it.


And consequently I know that there are a lot worse things that can happen to a child other than someone taking indecent photos (the one thing I seemed to have missed out on).


Also, Bishop Finn is the divinely appointed shepherd of my diocese, - God WANTED him here, God PUT him here, and God is GIVING him this trial of being attacked by the secular world.
So who the heck are you (- a fellow Catholic for goodness sake!) to go joining them in throwing punches?


P.S. The challenge still stands, and in case you didn’t know; you’re supposed to either formally accept, or refuse.

If you accept; you name the place.

If you refuse; I will leave you alone, but write you off as:

A. A coward.
B. A coward.
Or
C. A coward, - but one who reasonably does not want to fight a girl almost a third of his age.


Take your pick.

Jr.

God Bless Bishop Finn!!!

Anonymous said...

Kevin,
Be sure to bear in mind the fact that Finn is a Bishop with 100 parishes, nearly 200 other priests and seminarians and a thousand lay souls under his care. Come on, give him a break, even as an actor you’ve never, (at any point) been under the strain he is daily.

My admiration at your talent seems to have been totally drowned by this unnecessary mudslinging you’ve been doing in recent posts; really, you’re not that good, I can live this sort of thing.
In any case you have a more than adequate replacement; I’m a big fan of Michael Vorris and RealCatholicTV.

Excuse me; I’ve got a Vortex to watch.
Mary,

Kevin O'Brien said...

Thanks, Jr. for being nice to me. "Jim Russell" is a deacon friend of mine who's been banned from commenting on this blog. If you read some of the comboxes on older posts, you'll find out more.

I'm glad you avoided the pervs who came at you.

Please consider that while God has indeed put Bishop Finn in place as your shepherd, God has also tested him by seeing how he would respond to this situation. He has also put me in a position where I can point out what he did wrong. I know he's not a bad man; I know he's orthodox in his beliefs. I do believe public penance would help both him and those under his care. God has put me in a position to point that out to him, not because I'm better than he is - I am a mere sinner - but because someone has to do it, and apparently God chose me.

And, by the way, I agree with you - God bless Bishop Finn.

And no, my dear, I won't fight you, but let's join together with St. Michael in fighting our true enemy. Let us do so by praying for one another and for the people of Kansas City (your diocese) and St. Louis (mine).

Thank you for your zeal here and for your loyalty to your bishop.

Kevin O'Brien said...

By the way, readers, Jr. had promised to be nice to me today in a comment on another post, where she asked me who Jim Russell was. That explains part of my reply to her above.

Deacon Jim Russell said...

Mr. O'Brien:

Please don't continue bullying me by bringing up my name in your uninformed public rants.

Deacon Jim Russell

Anonymous said...

Yah, I’m sure the Bishop knew just by looking at the pictures exactly whose privates they were. – He would recognize them by sight of course. - Right.
Besides, what makes everyone think that Bishop Finn knew Fr. R took the pictures himself? He might have been under the impression that he’d merely downloaded them from some porn site.
And what about this teacher lady? If she thought he was acting funny SHE should have warned the parents.
Measure twice, Cut once. That’s exactly what the good Bishop did.
So put that in your pipe and smoke it O’Brien!

Mary C

Anonymous said...

ben,
"I agree that Msgr Murphy is the real bad guy in the Chancery Office, but Bp Finn is displaying incredibly poor judgment keeping him around."

Bishop Finn is a good man who's not about to make a scapegoat of a friend the first time he's let him down. and anyway we don't know where the mistake was actually made, so it's hardly a matter of public debate.

Mary C.

Anonymous said...

Mr. O’Brien,

I take it you chose C. (though this does not mean that I don’t think A. and B. of you in addition).

Adieu then, you won’t have to deal with me here again.

I will say one last thing though, unless you eventually apologize for your unnecessary written assaults on my Bishop; if ever we meet (barring at the Holy Mass) you can count on (after a formal introduction) either simple or aggravated battery immediately following.

Don’t get me wrong, I won’t try to find you, (though your attacks on Bishop Finn almost make you worth it) this is merely an “if we run into each other.”

Seriously and sincerely,

Jr.

And God Bless Bishop Finn!!!

Anonymous said...

Bishop Finn is pleading “not guilty” - and by golly that’s good enough for me!
If he was guilty he’d be pleading “guilty”. But since he isn’t; he won’t lie to everyone out of some warped idea of honor (like yours) by saying that he is.
Name one instance where ANY bishop in the U.S acted more swiftly and decisively than he. (even considering the mildness of the case; after all none of the children were physically or psychologically abused).
And I don’t give a damn who you are, but NO bishop of God’s Church belongs in jail for any amount of time, for ANY reason. Only an idiot would suggest it, - Oh, That’s right; an idiot is running this site. – Well O’Brien I hope you enjoyed the amount of visitors your last slandering blog post attracted here, but it'll eventually get old, -then you’ll have to go back to posting stuff about... -oh I don’t know, maybe THEATER, (you know, the thing you’re actually supposed to know something about) – oh, but then it’ll be just the same old ghost blog it was before, - never fear though, I’m sure you’ll find another innocent (but well-known) person to malign, -just so you can have the excitement of seeing more than two posts at a time in your combox.
You can count me out for coming back here or checking out any of your performances again, I’ve sort of lost my appetite for it.

PS. Check out Finn's pastoral letter on purity, it'll do you some good; I'm more inclined to believe that you're a perv then the Bishop is a perv-shielder

T.D

Anonymous said...

“apparently God chose me"

Uh, you wish dude!

Get a life Kevin! – And a brain too while you’re at it!

If you're "THE CHOSEN ONE" you’re not supposed to cluck and whine on some dumb blog that nobody ever reads.

Apparently you didn't get the memo God sent you with the job; -It's kinda' in the bible (you know, that dusty book you keep in your attic)

You're supposed to take this dreadful sinner aside and admonish him about his failings, PRIVATELY.

– You DON’T go on some nit-picky-blog-rant-

(which might I add was not even directed at him and which his Excellency is not likely to read in a million years anyway)

-in which you droll on about a situation NOT in your diocese, and of which you know less about than the teachers and parishioners involved.

What you're doing is Slandering, NOT Admonishing. There's a difference.

A bit of advice Chosen-One; collect your guts and go take it up with Finn himself, - that’s what any REAL man would do.
Jane77.

Ps. Nothing personal; it's just that God put me in a position to point this out to you.

Anonymous said...

Yah, Really O'Brien, get a grip!

Anonymous said...

Jane77
Ouch! Did you feel that mr. O'Brien?

June.

Brian said...

Mr. O'Brien, what do we do when we have someone like Bishop Finn still in charge? How can we go on as if everything is ok? It seems like we're powerless.

Anonymous said...

Um, Brian,

I happen to live in the diocese of Kansas city-St. Joseph, and let me tell you it was a liberal wreck when Bishop Finn was first put in charge.

However, not long after his appointment the National "Catholic" Reporter (LarryD calls it the National Catholic 'Distorter') printed an article about the reforms Finn was making here; in what they meant to be an unfavorable light, -

I would encourage you to be fair with our Bishop and read it, here's the link:

http://www.natcath.org/NCR_Online/archives2/2006b/051206/051206a.php

-You know that if the NCDistorter hates him he must be good.

Louis,

Anonymous said...

Wow, am I reading this right?- You're asking O'Brien? - Pardon me if I don't take him as my model of virtues.

Kevin O'Brien said...

Brian, if our Church depended upon the sanctity of its ministers, we'd all be sunk.

Same goes for me. If lay apostolates could only be run by the perfectly sanctified, we'd have no lay apostolates. Whoever Anonymous is (above) will tell you how awful I am (though how this unknown person knows this, I don't know - I can only guess that "Anonymous" is my wife!)

PatO said...

You missed two other critical facts about the case.

This didn't start in December of 2010. It started in May of 2010, when a school principal sent a 4 page memo to Bishop Finn illustrating Ratigan's behavior of taking photos up girl's skirts and asking children to take change out of his pocket.

Also, Bishop Finn turned the computer over to Ratigan's family, not to the police. That should have been destruction of evidence, but prosecutors are still afraid to fight the Catholic church.

This isn't God's church, and every one of you will have to answer for why you tolerated pedophiles that harmed or endangered God's most innocent children.

Kevin O'Brien said...

Pat, I go over both the principal's early warnings as well as the destruction of evidence in this post. Also see this post.