"All these parishioners just feel so betrayed…"

The New York Times this morning catches up with the tragic story unfolding in Missouri, surrounding Fr. Shawn Rattigan and the actions of Bishop Robert Finn:

In the annals of the sexual abuse scandals in the Roman Catholic Church, most of the cases that have come to light happened years before to children and teenagers who have long since grown into adults.

But a painfully fresh case is devastating Catholics in Kansas City, Mo., where a priest, who was arrested in May, has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of taking indecent photographs of young girls, most recently during an Easter egg hunt just four months ago.

Bishop Robert Finn of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph has acknowledged that he knew of the existence of photographs last December but did not turn them over to the police until May.

A civil lawsuit filed last week claims that during those five months, the priest, the Rev. Shawn Ratigan, attended children’s birthday parties, spent weekends in the homes of parish families, hosted the Easter egg hunt and presided, with the bishop’s permission, at a girl’s First Communion.

“All these parishioners just feel so betrayed, because we knew nothing,” said Thu Meng, whose daughter attended the preschool in Father Ratigan’s last parish. “And we were welcoming this guy into our homes, asking him to come bless this or that. They saw all these signs, and they didn’t do anything.”

The case has generated fury at a bishop who was already a polarizing figure in his diocese, and there are widespread calls for him to resign or even to be prosecuted. Parishioners started a Facebook page called “Bishop Finn Must Go” and are circulating a petition. An editorial in The Kansas City Star in June calling for the bishop to step down concluded that prosecutors must “actively pursue all relevant criminal charges” against everyone involved.

Stoking much of the anger is the fact that only three years ago, Bishop Finn settled lawsuits with 47 plaintiffs in sexual abuse cases for $10 million and agreed to a long list of preventive measures, among them to immediately report anyone suspected of being a pedophile to law enforcement authorities.

Michael Hunter, an abuse victim who was part of that settlement and is now the president of the Kansas City chapter of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said: “There were 90 nonmonetary agreements that the diocese signed on to, and they were things like reporting immediately to the police. And they didn’t do it. That’s really what sickens us as much as the abuse.”

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5 responses to “"All these parishioners just feel so betrayed…"”

  1. The media will be no friend of this bishop who is conservative. However, having said that, if facts of his knowledge hold up, this is not good. In fact, he could be accused of harboring a known criminal.

    [Greta … I’m not going to let you drag another issue into this discussion. Stick to the topic at hand, or next time your entire comment will be deleted. I don’t have the patience for this kind of crap. Dcn. G]

  2. The media? No human being with a functioning moral compass of any kind will be a friend of this bishop, whatever his liturgical leanings or secular politics. It’s heartbreaking that this stuff continues to happen, but seriously, why is anyone shocked or surprised by it? The same culture of secrecy and unaccountability and most of the same men who enabled the “past” scandal are still around.

    The bishops as a class of people and those they answer to in Rome have never once in sincere word or action accepted any real responsibility for it. Blame has always been deflected onto gays, or the libertine excesses of secular culture, or the psychologists, or greedy victims or the Byzantine nature of canon law or whatever. They may not be able to cover things up for 30 years the way they used to, but the old instincts are still there. If history is any guide, they will again let a teachable moment pass, circle the wagons tighter, and the bonanza for predators, plaintiff’s attorneys and the church’s political enemies will continue.

  3. Greta, if the allegations are true this bishop is an enabler, an accomplice in child abuse. He deserves no friends, conservative or liberal. I hate to say it but the fact that you seem intent on attacking the messenger instead of holding the church leadership accountable is exactly why this problem persists.

    The first reaction that came to my mind was deep sorrow for the victims, and there are many different kinds of victims here. Each one has experienced betrayal of one level or another. They need and deserve our prayers, but more importantly they need and deserve the support of their fellow Catholics in calling for the leadership to take this issue seriously.

  4. This is the Catholic church today, and not by accident, but by conscious intent.

    Priests raped children by the thousands in the US alone. Bishops purposefully hid them, and moved them around like wolves to attack new prey in new parishes. Bishops all intentionally hid the truth from children and parents.

    When bishops got caught, they lied. They took full advantage of the fact that their congregation would believe the truth from men of God, and let the congregation denigrate the victims of child rape. Hundreds of these victims committed suicide, including 26 in Australia recently, who can all be tracked back to two known priest pedophiles. Bishops didn’t care. They continued to keep it quiet and still do. Finn is just this week’s version.

    Like it or not, this is the Catholic church today.

  5. As a resident of KC, I just find all of this sadly ironic. My first impression of this bishop was that he worked very hard, writing a pastoral letter from the get-go that warned the faithful of the absolute danger (and slippery slope) of pornography and the media industry that is more and more intent on objectifying the human person. How many of these movies do we watch at the theaters and in our home?

    He has said in countless homilies and conventions in our area for years how the aforementioned is killing families, and yes, even those vocations to the priesthood. These conferences always have at heart the universal call to holiness as understood by the the Second Vatican Council. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard this “call” of ours from him.

    My opinion of the NY times article, they seem to not paint the whole picture of our bishop. Yes, I can testify that has made thousands of brave decisions to support life, and protect marriage and the family. I know that he will ordain an unprecedented 7 men to the priesthood in our diocese this year (Yet, in light of this, I almost wish they would ordain priests with purple vestments again instead of white sometimes).

    I know we all are frustrated in waiting for the conclusion of this case in our area. As a Catholic, I know this whole situation is absolutely horrid. To dark for me to see in.

    Come, Holy Spirit.

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