Face-Palm to Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese


Deacon Greg has an an update to the Kansas City-St. Joseph story that seems to be a triumph of naivete and just not getting it:

The sad story of the troubles in Kansas City has taken a new twist:

The Catholic official who oversees sex abuse complaints against priests in the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese, has himself been accused of past sexual improprieties.

You can read it all there. A friend of mine was quick to email about this story, and this writer:

Judy Thomas has had that report since 2007 and decided it was not newsworthy until now.

Here is a more detailed account by the same writer. Note the accuser was not a minor at the time of the alleged event.

I don’t know what to think!

On one hand, one considers that the accusation against Murphy was he-said-he-said and ultimately unprovable. It seems to me if we allow every such accusation to be immediately be considered “credible,” without due process, we run the risk of exposing good, faithful, innocent priests to ruin, and we could precipitate a witch-hunting mindset against any-and-all priests, or simply provide an expedient means of taking revenge — tick someone off, they come back with an accusation against you. It’s a minefield.

BUT — on the other hand — we can’t just dismiss accusations, either.

This is the classic dilemma. Without evidence, how do we handle such things? If this happened 27 years ago, and the guy wasn’t a minor, he should have landed Murphy a facer and reported him — but then again, back then no one was reporting anything.

And if it happened, then are their others out there who experienced something similar?

Or, are there others out there who will say they did, just because they can?

This is very dicey. How do we protect priests and also protect the laity?

But whether Murphy did this or not (and we cannot POSSIBLY know either way; where people land on this will largely demonstrate what they want to believe, over what they can possibly know) one still has to ask: is this the guy who should have been put in charge of sexual abuse reports, in ANY case? And it just makes everything that much dicier and gives support to those questioning Finn’s judgment.

What a mess. I am inclined to think Finn is incredibly naive and perhaps not as sensitive as he needs to be — this is the second demonstration that he is taking a long time to “get it” or he is completely unaware that people care about the optics of a thing.

Don’t know what to think about Murphy. As with Fr. Corapi, we cannot possibly know the truth, no matter how much someone claims they “know” something in their gut — we do not know. All we can do is watch, wait; hope things work themselves out, justly.

In additional news, The Catholic Key reports that Bishop Finn is initiating sweeping changes in processes within his diocese and also has hred a former U.S. attorney to investigate what exactly happened — who knew what, when and how they did or did not do — in the Ratigan case. The report will be made directly to the public.

It’s a good start — read the whole thing

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • momor

    Part of the KC reforms:

    “In the coming weeks, Bishop Finn will appoint a public liaison and ombudsman as the receiving agent and initial investigation point for any reports of misconduct by a diocesan priest, deacon, employee or program volunteer.

    The public liaison and ombudsman will screen and investigate any reports on complaints made and consult with law enforcement as appropriate. The ombudsman will be available to anyone who wishes to report a concern through a confidential telephone number and email address. ”

    This is an excellent and necessary first step in the reporting process. It should have been done years ago. It must be a person who is not a cleric and not a diocesan employee and who has to report not only to the Bishop but to the Review Board.

  • kenneth

    It’s not naivete at all. They don’t get it because they’ve come to a consensus as an organization that they don’ t need to “get it.” The bishops have never internalized the problem as being a problem the way that any decent human being with any perspective would. To them, it’s just a PR problem warranting a PR response. They will commission another “blue ribbon” panel to produce another report assigning a no-fault “mistakes were made” conclusion and recommending more procedural safeguards. They will adopt about half of them in a timely fashion, declare the whole thing “finally in the past” and within a week, some other ugliness will come to light.

    This will continue to happen because of three core beliefs by the bishops. 1)Concerns for the victim is NEVER the first priority nor even a primary one. 2)As bishops, we are accountable to NO earthly power. 3) The “abuse problem” is a false construct made up and exploited by the Church’s secular enemies. The conservative church partisans will start beating that drum within two or three posts of mine, guaranteed.

    So long as this generation of leaders is in place, this will continue until the last brick of the last parish is auctioned off to settle up with victim’s attorneys.

  • brother jeff

    I actually agree with that.

  • http://www.patrickomalley.com Patrick O’Malley

    My five point plan:

    1) Bishop Finn goes to jail

    2) Vicar Murphy goes to jail

    3) There is a grand jury investigation. Finn had an accused pedophile managing the pedophile program, which is how Fr Ratinger, a known pedophile, was allowed to roam freely around children for a year.

    4) Every Catholic reads the first 6 pages of the Philadelphia Grand Jury report at
    http://www.philadelphiadistrictattorney.com/images/Grand_Jury_Report.pdf to see how horrifying it was there

    5) Catholics finally stand up against child rape, and pressure law enforcement to clean up the Catholic church, which has raped tens of thousands of children in the last 6 decades.

  • cathyf

    Oh, yeah, perfect plan: send them to jail first and second, conduct the investigation third.

    I’m curious: if the accusation is against a priest, is it possible for the allegation to be a) not credible, or b) not sexual, or c) not abuse, or d) not involving a child?

  • Dan

    Why not simply purge homosexuals from the ranks of the clergy and have done. Afterwards, ban them from all religious.

    It’s real simple, and that was the way things were done for centuries.

    Instead we have now a situation where flamers protect flamers, cliques promote their own, entire orders are now suspect.

    Who here can possibly say that this is the movement of the Holy Spirit within the Church, who here can possibly say that this “progress” is in any way a positive development within the Church.

    Any advancement towards a genuine ecumenism is undercut when the Roman Catholic clergy becomes a cloak for degenerates, who can pursue other careers and seek out their salvation outside of the ranks of the clergy.

  • Dan

    And it all began when they decided to open the door to them.

    And who was it that did that, who was it that deemed it a wonderful idea to bring hordes of homosexuals within the ranks of the clergy.

    Whose bright idea was that?

    Who was it that couldn’t foresee a disaster in the making?

    But hey, it’s ALL cleaned up, let us all repeat that mantra.


    It’s all a sign of the times.

  • Lisa

    Dan is correct but we’ll see how everyone twists themselves in knots about this.

    Murphy – evidently a homosexual with secrets – protects Ratigan’s secrets – problem in exchange for Ratigan protecting his.

    And the bishop takes the fall.

  • david clohessy

    A caring bishop would have begged for more information: “Brian, you seem very sincere but we’re having trouble substantiating what you’re saying. Please, think hard, are there any others we should talk with or any other evidence you might have? We really want to get to the bottom of this.” Instead, Finn pretends to be powerless.

    If Finn feels he can’t substantiate an abuse report, there’s a simple answer: put notices in the bulletins of the churches where the priest worked, saying “We have an accusation against Fr. X, if you have info that could help prove or disprove it, please let us know.” That is what a true shepherd would do.

    Any caring person who really wants to know the truth would say “Can we please talk in person?” It’s very telling that Finn didn’t make this offer.

    MORE – http://www.snapnetwork.org/snap_statements/2011_statements/060911_snap_responds_to_disclosure_regarding_top_church_official.htm

  • david clohessy

    Judy Thomas and her editors felt this story WAS newsworthy years ago. . .her article makes clear that the story was held back at the request of the victim, who understandibly (given Murphy’s power) had second thoughts about taking the risk of putting his name and his abuse report out there in public

  • Max Lindenman

    The more I read, the more inclined I am to agree with kenneth.

    He who pays the piper calls the tune. A private investigation is going to produce whatever results it knows its patrons want. Finn got in this mess to begin with becaust his private investigator — that retired police officer who examined the images on Ratigan’s computer — told him, in effect, that he was in the clear. I’m sure he didn’t use those very words, but they capture the statement’s effect. Finn had an excuse not to contact police, so he didn’t — never mind that a police investigation might have turned up the incriminating images.

    Based on what I’ve read about Finn and the way he ran the diocese, I get the impression that protecting the prerogatives of the priesthood was one of his top priorities. It’s just a hunch, but I think he’d have been inclined to see any accused priest as a victim, unless he’d caught him in flagrante.

    Here’s a clue that could mean nothing…or everything. When one of the St. Pat’s teachers warned Ratigan that his touchy-feely antics were in violation of the Ethical Code of Conduct, he told her, defensively, “I’m just trying to get these kids into heaven.” In National Catholic Reporter, Dennis Coday quotes Finn using almost those very words to characterize the role of the bishop.

    Maybe that’s a common catchphrase, but so help me, I’ve never heard anyone use it. (I’m not even sure it’s good theology.) I have to wonder whether it belonged to Finn, whether it was one of those expressions he sprinkled into his speech. If that’s the case, I wonder whether Finn is one of those bosses who extends his favor to anyone shrewd enough to parrot him. One hopes he’d be a little more imaginative than that, but you know where hoping’ll get you.

  • brother jeff

    I don’t know how Father Corapi gets dragged into this article but for the umpteenth time his accuser is an adult member of the opposite sex, not a boy or male teenager. The accusations here involve homosexual conduct, yet again, and child pornography apparently.

  • Deacon Greg Kandra

    Br. Jeff …

    Both the Corapi case and the Murphy case involve two high profile priests reportedly preying on another adult — with no other people who have yet been able to verify or rebut the charges. It’s one person’s word against another, without (as yet) any corroborating evidence. Both men may be innocent — or guilty as sin.

    However, the Corapi case appears to be undergoing a thorough and time-consuming investigation that includes the accused priest being removed from ministry for an indefinite period of time while the investigation proceeds. It doesn’t look as if that happened with the Murphy case.

    Dcn. G.

  • Deacon Norb

    First: Elizabeth — this is my first time posting on your blog; looks like an exciting place.

    To Dan #6 and #7.

    There was– as far back as BEFORE Vatican II — a tacit understanding within the homosexual community that if you were Roman Catholic, a safe career for you would be as a RC priest. No one would hassle you within that career field.

    What did happen, I am sure, is that by word-of-mouth, the number of homosexual men being recruited into the seminaries gradually started increasing and their penetration into the everyday atmosphere of those same priestly seminaries slowly became obvious.

    Then came the publication of “Goodbye, Good Men.” I remain convinced — even today — that a great deal of the “evidence” cited by the author was really hyperbole but it did cause such a public relations crisis that the Vatican did an unprecedented “visitation’ (translate that an “inspection”) of a broad sweep of American seminaries.

    Are there still priests active in our church that are homosexual orientation — yes — just like there are priests with heterosexual orientations. But let me remind you of that nun’s insight — if they genuinely understand what they pledged when they took the vow of celibacy, whether they are “gay” or “straight” makes no difference at all!

  • Brother Jeff

    As I read it, the incident reportedly involving Murphy involved a “young man” in 1984. I may be missing something but I can’t tell if he was officially a minor or not, but it sounds like he was a young male.

    I just don’t like seeing Father Corapi lumped in, directly or indirectly, with situations involving homosexual predation in the clergy. I’m sure he has his flaws but homosexuality is not one of them.

  • http://www.bannonoceanart.com Bill Bannon

    The above double face palm poster is amazingly on point.
    Historian Arnold Toynbee admired Catholicism but due to our rigid moments and over defensiveness, he felt we had aspects of an arrested culture…little did he know some of ours would actually be arrested had he waited half a century.
    How can the Diocese state that Brian Heydon’s claims have no foundation? He and Murphy were obviously alone in a rectory.
    Ergo….the Diocese believes Murphy’s word but Heydon could have allowed the Kansas City Star to release this information four years ago. Now that Heydon sees what that silence may have led to, he comes forward partly in guilt for silencing the newspaper whom he apparently wanted to do police work since then to protect others.
    To understand Heydon’s silence four years ago, just look at the Diocesesan position right now….there is no foundation to his claims. Cardinal Bevilaqua in 2003 told a grand jury in Philly that he considered a claim unsubstantiated unless the accused priest confessed. Who in the world would report had they known that. That sounds bizarre but the Diocesan statement against Heydon is perfectly in line with Bevilaqua’s prejudice in favor of any of his men

  • GBullough

    In the Murphy case, now that it is public, others are likely to come forward. From the description of his bumbling attempt on the young man who was interested in being a priest, it sounds like part of a deliberate pattern. He wouldn’t be the first Vocation Director more interested in young men than in their vocations.

    The courage of the first victim leads to others.

    Some correspondents have questioned the situation because the victim wasn’t a minor. It doesn’t matter. He came to Fr. Murphy in his capacity as Vocations Director, seeking advice and counsel. He instead allegedly received sexual advances.

  • Jack B

    Allegations aside for the moment, what better way for the bishop to neuter the diocesan review board than appoint to it the recognized #2 diocesan authority, his Monsignor Vicar General, whose responsibilities as defined by Canon Law include:
    “Can. 480 A vicar general …. must report to the diocesan bishop concerning the more important affairs which are to be handled or have been handled, and they are never to act contrary to the intention and mind of the diocesan bishop.” Was there any route from board to bishop for independent consultative advice, which is the theoretical reason for a board?

  • Br. T

    While I agree with what is written in this post, I’m absolutely astounded by some of the responses to it. Talk about jumping to conclusions and finding people guilty before there is an investigation.

    First, as someone who has had to deal with investigations of accused priests, I can tell you that there are many bishops and superiors who take this problem very seriously. To paint all of them as being like Bishop Finn is wrong and unjust. If you’re angry about bishops who don’t take this seriously, then by God, express you anger. But don’t slander those that do.

    Second, people should not just assume that this is a credible accusation against Murphy. Have you read the letter that the accuser wrote to Bishop Finn? Do you know what investigation was done? Perhaps no investigation was done, which would be outrageous, but don’t assume that there wasn’t any.

    Third, on two occasions I have seen good priests who have been falsely accused and the damage that it did to them. Anybody can make a false claim against a priest and even though it is not true, it marks them for life. In these cases, both the priests and the accusers were asked to take polygraph tests. The priests willingly submitted and passed them, but the accusers, whose accusations were suspicious to begin with, disappeared and were never heard from again. On another occasion a known priest abuser was accused by someone, but the accusation was so absurd that it couldn’t possibly be true. Supposedly the priest was in a gym filled with people watching a basketball game, walked onto the floor thereby stopping the game, and then abused the accuser (who had been playing in the game) in front of the other players and parents who were watching the game. He couldn’t name another person who was in the gym at the time or explain why nobody stopped the priest. After the priest was finished, the game supposedly went on as normal. A lawyer had actually taken the case and wanted the accuser to be compensated in the six figures! When we refused to settle and indicated that we were willing to go to court, they too disappeared. Apparently they thought that making an accusation would bring them easy money. When it didn’t, they went away.

    Finally, please continue to be outraged and speak out against Bishops, religious superiors, priests or anybody else that doesn’t take this problem seriously. But don’t let your anger blind you to the facts.

  • Sibyl

    Several distinguished, even brilliant Catholic writers, Donohue, Weigel and the late Richard John Neuhaus have said there is some sort of tacit truce that has caused a grave dichotomy between policy and law in the Catholic Church since 1968, a truce that has been renewed once in 2005 and now again with the release of the JJ Study.

    The truce means that despite the traditional and written prohibition against homosexual acts and the truth that these are a sign of a disordered disoriented state, such persons will be allowed in the ministry, will be allowed to continue to claim this set of conditioned feelings and behaviors as an identity.

    According to Neuhaus, Weigel, and Donohue, the Truce of 1968 was Pope Paul VI’s decision not to allow a bishop to sanction 19 errant priests and theologians who rose up against his encyclical on sexuality, Humanae Vitae. It signaled all dissenters that they could sound off and dissent without reprisal. This lapse of discipline has repurcussions today, this very weekend, when two competing conventions will be held in Detroit. One the American Catholic group, espousing homosexuality (of course) abortion and women priests and the other espousing holiness (within the limits of the Truce).

    The situation in Kansas City and in Philadelphia, in California (McGuire and the Jesuits) and elsewhere are evidence of this truce still being in effect.

    Thus, it is doubtful that any substantial Cardinal or Papal response will be offered against this Archbishop’s foolish lack of spiritual and moral discernment – http://bryanhehirexposed.wordpress.com/2011/06/08/boston-archdiocese-allows-gay-pride-mass/

    The decision to embrace homosexuality as an alternate lifestyle and a legitimate identity, accepting ‘gay’ as an orientation and prohibiting ‘homophobia’ will mean that it is very likely that the Catholic Church will continue to be compromised and sullied by the sin within her leadership and the costs of their behaviors…including the loss of members, and will continue to be silenced by compromise and complicity and unable to defend herself from the assaults of the world and the law.

    I grieve for the Catholic Church. May the Lord grant repentance and light to those who are erring and lost.

  • Sibyl

    To clarify – by ‘prohibiting homophobia’ – I mean, forcing others to approve of and accept what is forbidden by GOD.

    I do NOT mean we should ridicule or harm people who have same-sex attraction.

    I do mean that we should not approve of what God calls sin and does so much harm to those afflicted with this disorientation. We, as a Church, should come alongside them and help them to be reoriented to God as they also help us in our struggles.

  • http://www.bannonoceanart.com Bill Bannon

    I know Weigel’s take on the Humanae Vitae event but he never mentions and must know one critical difference: the condemnation of gay acts is inerrantly in Scripture clearly in Romans chapter one for both genders (not to mention Leviticus and other NT epistles also)…Humanae Vitae on the other hand was introduced at its press conference twice as non infallible by Msgr. Lambruschini who was not corrected subsequently by Pope Paul VI. Dogmatically the two issues do not have the same status and if you read even conservative moral theology tomes like Germain Grisez’s “Way of the Lord Jesus” vol. one/ page 854, you will see that issues that are not clearly infallible (see canon 749-3) may have sincere, prayerful, studious dissent. Grisez himself though, having written that position on sincere dissent, did not believe that it applied to birth control which he saw as infallible as universal within the ordinary
    magisterium. His view though on that infallibility in the ordinary magisterium was countered by Bernard Haring and Karl Rahner who were well known and published theologians and who were not corrected by any Pope in their public position on that matter
    and both had urged laity to seek a sincere prayer conscience on that matter.
    John Paul II and then Ratzinger knew that dogmatically the
    birth control issue was technically not of the same level of certitude as gay acts. But prior to them, Pope Paul VI’s regime intervened on behalf of the DC dissenters because technically they were on solid theological ground. Catholics must obey on birth control….with one exception: if they have a dissent that is the result of prayer, study, and counsel….and it remains after those things. Clear infallibility would end that exception….and ex cathedra is the clearest manner but no Pope has taken that route on this issue. Abortion was clearly condemned in EV section 62 by the Pope and bishops in concert in 1997. They did not do that on birth control.
    Weigel is incorrect because the two issues have different dogmatic status.

  • Brother Jeff

    Bill, I don’t believe that is correct. The teaching against artificial contraception is part of the ordinary magisterium of the Church and as such is presumed to be free from error. The popes do not need to expressly correct every theologian who argues otherwise. If HV were deemed not to be infallible, then neither it nor any other papal encyclical need be listened to.

  • http://www.bannonoceanart.com Bill Bannon

    Brother Jeff
    Here is Ludwig Ott’s Introduction to “Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma” (online by the way) and it was THE reference work for Catholic priests and grad students for decades:

          ” With regard to the doctrinal teaching of the Church it must be well noted that not all the assertions of the Teaching Authority of the Church on questions of Faith and morals are infallible and consequently irrevocable. Only those are infallible which emanate from General Councils representing the whole episcopate, and the Papal Decisions Ex Cathedra (cf. D 1839). The ordinary and usual form of the Papal teaching activity is not infallible. Further, the decisions of the Roman Congregations (Holy Office, Bible Commission) are not infallible. Nevertheless normally they are to be accepted with an inner assent which is based on the high supernatural authority of the Holy See (assensus internus supernaturalis, assensus religiosus). The so-called “silentium obsequiosum.” that is “reverent silence,” does not generally suffice. By way of exception, the obligation of inner agreement may cease if a competent expert, after a renewed scientific investigation of all grounds, arrives at the positive conviction that the decision rests on an error.”

    What happens by the 90′s and Grisez’s book is that “competent expert” dissappears because while years ago, it often meant clergy…..now there are Catholic laity with
    advanced graduate degrees.

    Notice Brother Jeff that if we follow your paradigm, we Catholics would have had to agree with Pope Leo X in his support in Exsurge Domine in 1520 for burning heretics at the stake (prop.33). And he stated that to say burning heretics was against the Holy Spirit was itself against the Catholic Faith.
    Ask Pope Benedict what he thinks of burning heretics since its a form of torture within a death penalty. He’ll cite section 80 of Splendor of the Truth to the effect that it is an intrinsic evil as torture.
    Ergo…..there must be exceptions to obeying the non infallible which Exsurge Domine was…..or you Jeff would have been following an intrinsic evil in 1520 out of obedience.

  • Brother Jeff

    Oh it’s on now.

    I think you’re incorrect:

    In “Humanae Vitae” the Pope taught, with the divine assistance he enjoys (cf. “Lumen Gentium”, n. 25a), what the Church’s ordinary Magisterium had always held to be true and right, and what had been reconfirmed by the extraordinary Magisterium of Vatican II. The arguments of those who claim to pass judgment on the basis of their knowledge do not stand up against this Magisterium: between the two teachings there is a substantial difference of quality and not only of degree. The teaching of “Humanae Vitae” is Magisterium – though ordinary – which contains decisions belonging to a divinely established authority (cf. canon 331; “Lumen Gentium” nn. 18a, 20c, 22b, 23c; “Christus Dominus” n. 2a) and exercised in order to interpret and teach (as in our case) the moral norms of human conduct. If he were not the Pope, he would lose his legitimate power and the intrinsic reason for his ministry; at most he could carry out a scholarly magisterium, which, however, would not be of use to the Church and to which he has not been appointed by the Church’s Founder; he would lack the supernatural “virtus” of assisting and confirming his brethren in the faith and in the moral law (cf. Lk. 22:32, Mt. 16:29; Vatican I, Dogm. Const. “Pastor Aeternus”, DS 3074)…

    Archbishop Vincenzo Fagiolo, President of the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts

  • http://www.bannonoceanart.com Bill Bannon

    LOL….All the people you’re about to cite:

    A. Are non infallible sources.

    B. Will probably never have a post mortem retrospective of their theological careers at the Lateran as Rahner did.

    C. Rahner was the editor for years of the Enchiridion Symbolorum which classifies relative dogmatic status of a myriad of issues.

    D. Why wasn’t Fagiolo given that top dogmatic job?

    Ott just told you above what you need to know. You are avoiding him for some reason nor did you deal with the Exsurge Domine dilemna. Who can blame you? It topples your paradigm.

  • Brother Jeff

    I hate to break it to you by Karl Rahner was just a man and enjoyed no supernatural teaching authority. You’re making an ad hominem on Fagiolo. I personally don’t know the guy but you are ignoring the authority he cites, which is manifestly superior to both Rahner and Ott.

    Here is Father Hardon, S.J.’s definition of the ordinary magisterium. There’s no question HV fits within it.


    The teaching office of the hierarchy under the Pope, exercised normally, that is, through the regular means of instructing the faithful. These means are all the usual channels of communication, whether written, spoken, or practical. When the ordinary magisterium is also universal, that is, collectively intended for all the faithful, it is also infallible.

  • http://www.bannonoceanart.com Bill Bannon

    I now opt out of the hijacking of this thread…I’ll save that Hardon quote as an example of error because it includes “practical” as an avenue of the ordinary magisterium which means the Church taught torture (because she used it) from 1253 til 1816 in the ordinary magisterium… according to Hardon’s thought while John Paul II defined torture as intrinsic evil. See what happens as you descend the author scale….sometimes…not always.

  • alter Dan S.

    “…one still has to ask: is this the guy who should have been put in charge of sexual abuse reports, in ANY case?”

    If this one accusation is all there is/was, and he proved himself to be a respected member of the diocesan presbyterate, yes. I’m sure the decision to appoint this priest as vicar general was based on his reputation in the diocese. Bishop Finn would not have really known him until he came to the diocese in 2004.

    That’s my answer to the question.

  • alter Dan S.

    I should clarify–this priest was “put in charge” before the accuser made his allegation known to the Bishop. Sure, the Bishop could have removed him from that office but…based on what?

  • momor

    Brother T wrote:

    “First, as someone who has had to deal with investigations of accused priests, I can tell you that there are many bishops and superiors who take this problem very seriously. To paint all of them as being like Bishop Finn is wrong and unjust. If you’re angry about bishops who don’t take this seriously, then by God, express you anger. But don’t slander those that do.”

    While I agree with spirit of what you have written the obvious problem for the average Catholic in the pew is that we can’t know for certain how our bishop is handling the complaints that come to his desk. We have seen over and over how parishioners are shocked when these revelations come to light and they see all the years of dirty secrets that spill out for the first time. Given that, I think a general lack of trust and suspicion is not unusual and perhaps not even unwarranted.

  • cathyf

    Now that the thread has been hijacked, I would note that Fr. Ratigan appears to have been Sibyl’s ideal priest. Nary a whiff of homosexuality, in that he seems to have had no interest whatsoever in males of any age. And not much heterosexuality, either, in that he seems to have been uninterested in any girls old enough to have hit menarche.

    As for Humanae Vitae, it is far more logical to see the cause-effect from the other direction. Pope Paul VI established once and for all without exception that a husband who makes love to his wife while using a condom commits as grave a sin as a priest who sodomizes an altar boy. Every priest in the world who listened to married people’s confessions knew that virtually all fertile married couples who were not actively trying to get pregnant were having sex while using birth control. Is it any wonder that a few percent of those priests decided that if everybody else was allowed to commit grave sins, why shouldn’t they get to do so too?

  • kenneth

    If there are bishops who truly take this matter seriously, they have not shown any evidence of it. People aren’t outraged because bishops didn’t move fast enough to railroad priests in cases of borderline credibility. They’re outraged by decades of practice in which they short circuited any proper investigation, aided in the flight of perpetrators who they themselves believed to be guilty based on overwhelming evidence, and concealed evidence of serious crimes from law enforcement (aka racketeering).

    Of course priests can and have been falsely accused. They deserve a presumption of innocence, but at the same time, there has to be some prudence. He has to be removed from active ministry during the time of the investigation and assigned some well supervised working and living conditions that don’t involve contact with young people. The investigation must be a real one, by law enforcement. Let the cops do their job. Some patrolmen are idiots, as are a great many upper brass. Detectives, not so much. I’ve watched a number of them work over the years and they’re very good at what they do, including sniffing out non-credible accusations and false reports. Unless a false accuser has an extraordinary memory and intelligence and very well-researched scheme (very few do), a good detective will figure them out within the first hour of talking with them.

    As it stands, I have yet to hear of a single case where a bishop exercised proper caution in such an investigation. In every case of which I am aware, they failed to exercise any good supervision of the accused and failed to notify law enforcement or parishioners. Very often even into very recent times, they ignored parts of the well-meaning guidelines intended to correct this problem.

    After 50 plus years of a solid 100% track record of lying and criminal behavior, bishops as a general matter are no longer entitled to a presumption that they’re doing the right thing. They will have to earn that by visibly and transparently doing the right thing and doing so unfailingly, or at least very consistently, for a number of years. They will have to demonstrate an inclination to do the right thing even when nobody seems to be looking.

  • http://www.bannonoceanart.com Bill Bannon


    Except that Pope Paul VI did not say it infallibly in ex cathedra form and no one was stopping him; and his spokesman, Msgr, Lambrushini introduced Humanae Vitae to the press twice stating that it was not infallible. John Paul had over 20 years in which to do an ex cathedra encyclical on it and he did not do so.
    Simple…ex cathedra ends doubt….that’s it’s purpose. That’s the extant condition of this issue. Why won’t a Pope use ex cathedra, the doubt solver, in this area where by the Bishop’s conference estimate, there is 96% non compliance. If we agree with you cathyf….96% of Catholics are damned while the current Pope spends no time at all worrying about that fact but writes books on the NT and listens to the German symphony at Castel Gandalfo.
    If 96% of Catholics were robbing banks, Benedict would
    constantly call Bishops to Rome in Councils til it was solved.
    So would John Paul have done so. If 96% of priests were doing what you said, likewise they would call emergency Councils. No such emergency behaviour by Popes attends this issue. 8 Popes out of 265 have written on this issue at any lenght at all. It was not as papal as it was an issue of theologians…two of whom were ex fornicators (Augustine and Jerome) and one a virgin who followed Augustine in several sexual mistakes seemingly out of deference to an experienced man…hence they were both wrong on the IC because Augustine said Mary had to have contracted original sin because her parents enjoyed the act of intercourse but Mary was cleansed of it before birth….which the Church rejected from both men in ex cathedra form in the IC. Done on this topic which has defined Catholicism while Christ’s actual words were supposed to have done that….while no Pope will step forward and use ex cathedra on this famous topic.

  • http://www.bannonoceanart.com Bill Bannon

    I sometimes wonder if Bishop insensitivity is partly due to their hearing so many sexual things in confession that no one else on earth listens to for decades except priests. Does that constant hearing of sexual sins make this area….inevitable to them?

  • kenneth

    I think it has much more to do with 15 centuries or so of tradition within the Church and even secular societies which encouraged bishops to feel accountable to no one and to place their own power and privilege and concern of “scandal” above all other considerations, including ones that were spelled out in no uncertain terms in texts purporting to directly quote Jesus….

  • brother jeff

    Bill, no pope has declared ex cathedra that the 10 Commandments are infallible. Does this mean they may be false? Cathyf makes a very good point.

  • http://www.bannonoceanart.com Bill Bannon

    You made a foolish point. Infallibility is redundant when used on the inerrant….that’s why no Pope uses infallibility on the inerrant.

  • http://www.bannonoceanart.com Bill Bannon

    ps….they are equivalent.

  • http://www.opinionatedcatholic.blogspot.com jh

    “What a mess. I am inclined to think Finn is incredibly naive and perhaps not as sensitive as he needs to be — this is the second demonstration that he is taking a long time to “get it” or he is completely unaware that people care about the optics of a thing.”

    It’s a letter and that is all. What is he suppose to “get”. There was no proof no evidence no nothing.

  • http://www.opinionatedcatholic.blogspot.com jh

    Also here is a thought as Bishop is being accused.. This Diocese has a ton of Seminarians. Has there been one Priest or current Seminarian or former Seminarian that says this happened too him by the VG

  • former Navy pilot

    I’m inclined to completely defer to the Anchoress, as she is usually spot-on. But her agnostic “we’ll never know” line just rubs me the wrong way on this. We NEED to know, and within reason, we can know. There is nothing stopping the Church from creating an administrative evidentiary process that includes cross-examination UNDER OATH of all parties and witnesses concerned. This is the great gift of Anglo-American common law, sometimes referred to as the acid-test of the he-said he-said conundrum, and the Church should adopt it ASAP.
    As one of the witnesses stated at the Clarence Thomas hearings, WALLS TALK. If this is the sort of thing the VG feels comfortable doing with a relative stranger, it’s happened before, and people know about it, if only inferentially. Reputations matter. It’s every priest’s stock in trade.
    And for crying out loud, the woman who accused Fr. Corapi alleged multiple partners and a rip-roarin’ drug habit. That can either be confirmed by the others allegedly involved or not, in a matter of days. But that bishop is also incompetent when it comes to truth-gathering and instead appointed a COMMITTEE of clergy (instead of a real investigaor) that is by nature designed to delay and dither. SHEESH.

    [I did not say "we'll never know." I said "we cannot possibly know" meaning "without an investigation, etc..." -sheesh. admin]

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    Whatever happened to “innocent until proven guilty?”
    Alll that it takes now for a priest-or teacher-or counselor to be destroyed is for someone to make an accusation–evidence not a requirement anymore.
    There was a time in America when, if you made an accusation you better be willing to bring criminal charges, provide real evidence and real witnesses (backing the accuser’s claim), and let a jury of your peers convict or acquit.

  • kenneth

    Well that’s the rub, deacon. For 50+ years, the church has denied accusers, and for that matter, the accused, of juries and proper investigations. They’ve hidden or destroyed evidence and intimidated witnesses. If priests don’t get the benefit of the doubt anymore, its because people no longer believe the church is capable nor inclined to ever do the right thing when accusations are raised.

    In the case of Murphy, we are not talking about a crime so far as I can tell. If he propositioned another adult, even a young man, it is not criminal. It is most certainly a grotesque abuse of a position of trust and of priestly vows. With no witnesses and no trail of e-mails and text messages like we might expect today, any investigation is likely to be a dead end. Of course, it doesn’t seem like they really exerted themselves to look into the matter. If he did improperly proposition this young man, it is near certain that he was not the only one. Had investigators cared about the truth, they would have tracked down anyone they could find who knew Murphy from those times to see if anyone knew or suspected of other such instances of misbehavior.

    In all likelyhood, we will never know the truth of this case, and for the purposes of his current appointment, it should not matter. Whether he asserts his innocence and his bishop believes him, he should not have been named to that job nor retained in it. An organization in the church’s position cannot afford to have ANY questions of credibility of the people who are overseeing what is supposed to be atough and transparent new approach to abuse. “Naivete” is no excuse. The greenest 21-year-old intern in a politician’s office could see that train wreck a mile away.

  • brother jeff

    Bill, are you actually suggesting that the only two infallible teachings of the catholic church are the immaculate conception and the assumption?

  • http://www.azoic.com/ Irenaeus of New York

    Deacon John M. Bresnahan said -

    Whatever happened to “innocent until proven guilty?”

    Apparently Deacon Kandra and Scalia dont believe in it. For them, there is no bar for innocence once accused.

  • Bender

    Anyone who has indeed bothered to read Humanae Vitae, as well as prior magisterial teachings on the matter, not to mention Gaudium et Spes 47-51, and the subsquent teachings of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, can come to only one conclusion — Humanae Vitae is not merely a teaching, it is a moral truth. That is, it is unchangable, i.e. “infallible.”

    Maybe Pope Paul should have formally proclaimed Humanae Vitae to be “infallible,” using the “magic words” from Vatican I that are demanded by some, including those who insist that there have been only two such infallible proclamations (the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption). But students of the Magisterium can detect that there are good reasons why the popes have wanted to avoid such formalistic legalisms when it comes to Magisterial teachings, that is, have wanted to avoid putting process above substance.

    There have been multiple teachings that are, indeed, “infallible,” even though they have not been formally proclaimed as such. For example, when JP2 stated that it is and always has been the understanding of the Church that only men can be priests, and that this understanding cannot be changed, that was, by its very nature foreclosing anything to the contrary, an “infallible” statement.

    Likewise, in Evangelium Vitae, JP2 on multiple occasions parallels the wording of the Vatican I definition of infallibility without ever coming out and using the word “infallible.” It has been written elsewhere (by George Weigel, I believe) that JP2 was going to formally make it “infallible,” but Cardinal Ratzinger persuaded him against it on the grounds that the teaching was self-evidently unalterable truth and, hence, did not need a formal proclamation.

    With respect to Humanae Vitae itself, JP2 said, among other things, “in continuity with the living tradition of the ecclesial community throughout history, the recent Second Vatican Council and the magisterium of my predecessor Paul VI, expressed above all in the Encyclical Humanae Vitae, have handed on to our times a truly prophetic proclamation, which reaffirms and reproposes with clarity the Church’s teaching and norm, always old yet always new, regarding marriage and regarding the transmission of human life.” (Familiaris Consortio 29) This is clearly an indication that JP2 considered Humanae Vitae to be an infallible teaching, not merely of Paul VI, but of the entire Church. When you say that the Church has always taught something throughout history and has been reaffirmed by the Pope and the entire college of bishops in ecumenical council, that bears all the marks of “infallibility.”

    As for Pope Benedict, in speaking on the 40th anniversary of Humanae Vitae in 2008, he said that “it constitutes a significant show of courage in reasserting the continuity of the Church’s doctrine and tradition . . . Forty years after its publication this teaching not only expresses its unchanged truth but also reveals the farsightedness with which the problem is treated. . . . What was true yesterday is true also today. The truth expressed in Humanae Vitae does not change.”

    Here too, again, is an affirmation of infallibility. Whether we use the word “infallible” or not, either Humane Vitae is true or it is not. Either it is now true, always has been true, and always will be true, or it is not. Truth does not change.

    Truth is truth, and Humanae Vitae is truth. It is not opinion, it is not policy, it is not the arbitrary dictates of sexually frustrated, misogynistic, old men. It is truth. It is the truth of love. A truth which is unchanging and unchangable.

    Now, you can dissent all you want from it. But the truth is the truth. Humanae Vitae expressed moral truth. Feel free to rage against truth all you want, but dissenting against truth does not make what is true mere opinion or policy, much less false.

  • brother jeff

    Bender, that was a tour de force worthy of publication. The scores are coming in from the judges now, 10.0 10.0 10.0 9.9 9.9

  • http://www.bannonoceanart.com Bill Bannon


    Briefly…Councils condemned usury repeatedly and what was meant was clear at the parish level…no interest on personal loans. Issue now has vanished totally.

    Three things are infallibly condemned in evangelium vitae without the use of the word infallible…..because bishops were polled worldwide…abortion euthanasia etc. It actually is proof of my point…no such section statement was done on birth control which was in EV. They had to be polled on it.

    Humanae Vitae was introduced at the Vatican in 1968 to the press as non infallible…twice stated. In subsequent days, the Pope issued no public statement to the contrary which would have been morally obligatory about a public statement.

    Running late to a grand daughters ballet.

  • Jack B

    Deacon John M.B. -

    Interestingly, you invoke America for your preferred model, not the Roman Catholic Church. The Church process all are stuck with at present was devised and promulgated by the US cardinals and bishops at Dallas. They have had 9 years to clean up any deficiencies in the original. Your message, which has merit, should go to Seattle. Meanwhile, the secular world struggles on with the process to which you refer as the news of the day will show for Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Kansas City, Tennessee, and many places elsewhere in this and other countries.