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
  • http://stjuniatheapostle.blogspot.com Rev Dr Laura

    Too many people do not understand that sexual overtures and conduct by anyone with power over another person–boss, therapist, professor, etc.–are abusive even if the victim is a legal adult because of the impossibilty of free consent. Clergy, who represent God and the church, have the ultimate power — especially in this case where Heydon was only 23 and Murphy could further or hinder his application for priesthood. Heydon is not seeking financial compensation and has no reason to lie, and his description of the shock and trauma of being propositioned by someone he was raised to revere (and told it would be a mortal sin to “plant a facer” on) is exactly what I suffered when the same thing happened to me as a 19 year old by my theology professor, a married Protestant pastor–except that I gave in and lived in shame for years because officials at my Jesuit university to whom I reported it took no disciplinary action and priests to whom I confessed it and therapists to whom I disclosed it didn’t explain the power dynamics that made it abuse on his part, not adultery on mine. Heydon no doubt feared the disbelief and personal attacks he is no suffering after making a credible accusation which the bishop denies solely he is the first to come forward (someone always is) and because the perpetrator denies or does not remember it (not surprising if he was drunk).

  • http://stjuniatheapostle.blogspot.com Rev Dr Laura

    This dismissal of sexual abuse and misconduct when victims are older teenagers and young adults played an important part in Dignity Dayton’s and Dignity USA’s recent lies and coverup in the National Catholic Reporter when I exposed their knowingly allowing Ellis Harsham, a notorious pedophile suspended from RC priesthood for a substantiated allegation of child sexual abuse, to celebrate mass for 10-12 years at DD. Their only action has been to require a pseudo resignation as presider leaving Harsham eligible for other ministries with no safety precautions. Like Murphy, Harsham used vocation work to have sex with a young adult seminarian; give porn, alcohol, and drugs to teen boys; and molest some of these as well. He admits giving porn to one boy and the Dignity person I spoke to dismissed this because the boy was 17 (at the end of two years of alleged abuse). Also, the two longterm Dignity Dayton priests–one straight and one gay–who were part of the coverup appear to have broken their own vows and forced their long term partners to live in secrecy and shame for years before resigning. So it is not surprising that they dulled their consciences and gave a pass to their buddy who perpetrated graver misconduct. Ironic replication of hierarchical coverups at their worst.

  • Richard M

    Mr. Bannon,

    [This has become a rabbit hole, but...it must be spoken to.]

    You have seriously misrepresented Church teaching on this question of infallibility. To credit your argument, we would have to conclude that Jeff’s argument is true: You believe that no Church teaching of the modern era is “infallible” save for the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption. Period. If you think that the “three” items in Evangelium Vitae qualify you had better give us a clear criterion, supported by Magisterial authority, for why they are so, beyond the bromide about “polling the bishops.”

    If you think otherwise, you can begin by listing modern teachings of the Church besides those two that you believe are infallible.

    There are some liberals who have accused the current pontiff of exercising “creeping infallibility.” I suggest that you, Mr. Bannon, are engaged in a “shrinking of the Magisterium” – in your case, shrinking it down almost to the vanishing point. It seems to me that if you don’t see the words “infallible” or “ex cathedra” in a papal document, it’s not at all infallible, and owed no respect, so long as your dissent “is the result of prayer, study, and counsel….and it remains after those things.” What a tremendous misrepresentation of Lumen Gentium’s teaching.

    It’s quite ridiculous to conclude that Humane Vitae has no magisterial import that is owed full assent by *all* Catholics. What Mgsr. Lambruschini said or did not say was beside the point, since he had no authority to make any such assessment (as did neither Karl Rahner or Bernard Haring); and as to his lack of correction, it is instructive that L’Osservatore Romano declined to print his remarks in its report of the press conference, but subsequently *did* print statements by Fr. Ermenegildo Lio and Cardinal Cahrles Journet as “immutable” and known with “certitude.” And Humane Vitae simply confirms the teaching of Pius XI’s Casti Connubi, which is even more explicit in its language.

    This is nearly as tired as the old chestnut that you bring up about usury, which in fact was never defined as a grave moral evil by the universal Church.

    I think everything Bender said above adequately expresses the point I’m trying to make her. There is no justification for the dissent you are trying to engage in here.

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

    Be back much later today to answer points.

  • Bender

    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.

    That is rather insubstantial sand upon which to build your argument.

    Both John Paul II and Benedict XVI (and maybe even John Paul I, if we were to go research it) have adopted the teachings of Humanae Vitae as their own. And that is what is at issue — not the ink on the page, but the reality of the teaching that transcends the page, that is, the truth of the teaching.

    Both John Paul II and Benedict XVI have fully embraced the teachings of Humanae Vitae as their own. A major part of the Magisterium of John Paul II was spent discussing those teachings, explaining them, and even expanding upon them. He did this in several magisterial venues, e.g. Familiaris Consortio, Evangelium Vitae, and his extensive teaching on the Theology of the Body. Likewise, Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict.

    Whatever the opinon of some press spokesman, whatever the reason that Pope Paul did not come running into the press room to correct him, whatever the opinion of various dissenters, the Magisterium has long considered the truths of Humanae Vitae to be just that — truth — and hence not subject to error, i.e. infallible.

  • Sibyl

    Nope, Cathyf, Ratigan’s a classic pedophile.

    Gentlemen, It really does not take an official papal declaration or several of them to prove conclusively that sexual acts outside of marriage are sin (harmful) – the combined witness of Scripture, history, CDC reports, research, medicine and mental health clinical practice, police reports – plus common sense, reason, personal experience, and honesty – reveals the misery and affliction to spirit, soul (mind, will, emotions) and body caused by sexual sin and abuse.

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

    Read your above post. You simply dismiss reality. Reality is HV was introduced as “non infallible” to the world press and if the Pope did not correct it as would be gravely morally obligatory, then he in fact had the monseignor say it. You have him not correcting a public statement to the whole world….and you have him morally responsibility free for not manning up and correcting a crystal clear statement.

    2nd reality…..his regime then rescues the Washington DC dissenters and again you have to deny that he was rescuing them because technically they were correct in dissenting from an encyclical which had been introduced as non infallible dogmatically. You have to see the Vatican as acting against his will again.

    So now you have him helpless to control his men twice….and yet common sense says he affirmed both the non infallible
    statement of his spokesman….and the rescuing of the DC
    dissenters…not because he agreed with them but because they were technically correct and should have endured no punishment.

    Your outlook depends on an incredible amount of denial and as a result we are treated to a hidden secret vision maybe Weigel…maybe not….of a private conversation of Ratzinger telling John Paul not to make birth
    control infallible formally because it is self evident truth. But by that time, dissent was rampant so that ex cathedra was the very thing needed when a position is challenged for having been left in the ordinary magisterium. Ratzinger would have said no such thing. Let’s remember who Weigel is: in “Witness to Hope” in the Intro or chapter one, he states that John Paul was “the most informed man on earth” even though he did not read newspapers….in his latest book, he states that only in 2002 did John Paul know the extent of the sex abuse problem…but court documents show that in 1979, John Paul’s first year, his Vatican had an audio tape of Fr. Shanley talking His permissive views on gay actions…several years later he would molest and go to jail…but John Paul was the most informed man on earth according to Weigel.

    The dreams and the constructing of alternate realities and knowledge of private conversations are neurotic…must be cleared away….while you must keep your position for you personally on NFP….because for some people it is wonderful…never give it up. For others it is disaster. Imagine a young Chinese couple in one child China and the woman’s bodily signals are erratic vis a vis NFP and she already has one child and lives in a brutal province on this issue. NFP makes her life a living hell because she repeatedly gets pregnant and the government then aborts her forceably with each succeeding pregnancy and fines her and her husband whereas a
    sterilization in her case…not your suburban 1st world case….would have made her life normal and not a continuous hell based on a non infallible position that no Pope will affirm at the ckearly infallible level which is only the ex cathedra level ir the Pope/ all Bishop level that was used against abortion in
    EV. Either are crystal clear….the ordinary magisterium is ckear as mud and once contained the usury position on which saints denounced entire citues if laymen…until 1830…when the identical action became ok. And now no saint or Pope denounces a soul for usury unless in a once a year pro forma letter to keep it on the books historically.

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

    Richard M
    Ermenigildo Lio held a rare position maybe along with Brian Harrison …a minor figure…that Humanae Vitae is infallible. That’s why he had to hearsay a rebuke behind the scenes from Paul to Lambrushini but he avoids the fact that for public mistakes, a public rebuke is mandatory by the Pope and not optional because now the whole Church holds HV non infallible.
    So a private rebuke would have been a pusillainamous rebuke and sinful on Paul’s part because sin is the failure to do a due act.

    He is hearsaying like Weigel? or someone did about a behind the scenes advice from Ratzinger to JPII on not formalizing infallibility which again made no sense since ex cathedra’s purpose is to settle the disputed…the ordinary magisterium can’t settle the disputed.

    Grisez and John Ford held the more sane position that birth control is settled as universal in the ordinary magisterium but then you always have dispute on the controversial….that’s why the IC traveled to the ex cathedra level from the ordinary magisterium.

  • brother jeff

    So Bill, your position is that HV is false.

    I guess the Holy Spirit must have been busy with other things when that encyclical was issued. And preoccupied also when Casti Connubi was given, along with several other documents intended for all the faithful on this issue. But hey, at least we know that the Immaculate Conception and Assumption are true. I can therefore.continue to enjoy the Song of Bernadette once a year.

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

    My position is that NFP is wonderful for some. I Corinthians 7 describes two kinds of marrieds. Haring’s point was that the moderm encyclicals pretend there is one kind of married not two. But the Holy Spirit in Scripture said there were two….one of those types is told not to abstain too long lest Satan enter in.
    The second type are described as being able to take or leave marriage. The first type are told to marry to avoid fornication. The second are not.
    The few Popes that wrote on this at all….8 out of 265….only seem to be aware of the second type…which resembles the celibate clergy by coincidence…resembles themselves. Read chapter 7 slowly and note the two entirely different types. Haring is correct. Some Chinese effectively are told by the passage not to abstain….not to seek the Josephite marriage in their situation. Group two who can take or leave marriage like a celibate…they alone are capable of a Josephite marriage.
    Haring talked like all of you in the first half of his vocation
    and was the premier defender of the papal position.

    But all of you who hold the issue infallible are left with two Popes who are virtually totally casual about 96% of Catholics being damned.

    My position has the Popes acting casual because they know there is a sincere dissent possible in many of the 96% because they know that it is not clearly infallible under canon 749-3(c).

    Your position then has Popes that are failing in zeal. My position allows that they are acting appropo.

  • Sibyl

    It doesn’t matter what any Pope decrees, if it isn’t respected by all or doesn’t have consequences for those who do not follow, then Notre Dame can support abortion and homosexuality, Nancy Pelosi signs off on late term abortion legislation, and Sebelius can sponsor LBGT rallies for youth.

    It all goes back to the tacit truces of 1968, 2005 and 2011 (the John Jay Study) described by Weigel, Donohue and Neuhaus and others.

    The current situation is, in poker language is a bluff, call, draw and fold. In military language, it’s an armistice, an uneasy peace established an secret treaty, a stand-down and/or a not-so-cold war, as we see in Detroit with the two parties meeting at the same time – at Pentecost, no less.

    God will have the Last Word and will enact and honor His Word. There will be no hemming and hawing or wavering on His part. His Word is the true reality. Nowhere in Scripture is homosexual activity or identity given any special exemption or affirmation. We conform to God, fulfil His agenda, His desires, not vice versa. That’s a very good thing.

    It’s time to end the Pink mafia that has infected the priesthood and threatened and abused so many with honorable intent to be priests and legitimate needs for a true father when their own birth fathers have failed. Active and justified homosexuality has no place in the priesthood, seeking gratification preying on each other and the young, trying to defend, justify and normalize ungodly behaviors and desires. Period.

    The Church needs to remember how to convert people with deviant desires and lifestyles as in the early church according to I Corinthians 6:9-20. We all need to be reoriented and conformed to the Image of Christ. Period.

    We need (and Christ expects) the Church to be a healthy safe family, a hospital with true physicians who know how to apply the Balm of Gilead; a safe refuge with Scripture-abiding, guardian shepherds; a fortress with spiritual warriors and weapons; a sanctuary with true priests who have made an offering of themselves and whose first love is Jesus, not their sexuality – not a pool of man-eating, self-gratifying, porn and substance-addicted, insecure, immature, predatory fishes.

  • http://stjuniatheapostle.blogspot.com Rev Dr Laura

    Sibyl, many gay priests–like many straight priests–keep their vows of celibacy, and abuse of children was not restricted to gay priests. About thirty percent of the children abused were girls, and the percentage would probably have been higher had priests had more access to them as they did to boys in all boy schools, Scout troops, and altar servers (an ironic benefit of the unjust barring of girls from that service until recently). In fact, in society at large the greatest percentage of child sex abusers are straight men with an adult female partner. It is unjust and hurtful to LGBT Christians, many of whom live in faithful committed adult relationships, to blame them for a crisis with many roots including hierarchical mismanagement.

  • http://stjuniatheapostle.blogspot.com Rev Dr Laura

    PS: CS Lewis pointed out that most of the boys who abused younger students in British boarding schools would have preferred girls, and plenty of men in prison who rape other prisoners for the same reason consider themselves straight. Sexual abuse and assault are about power and access as much as the sex itself; for some, any victim will do.

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

    Rev Dr Laura
    The John Jay report says female victims were 20% not 30%…section 4.2.

    Catholicism is perfectly in line with Romans chapter one that the gay act in se is “against nature” which means committment does not change the gay act into being in accord with nature. I know how you feel but God has many more hard sayings in scripture besides that one. You know perhaps very nice gays.
    I have an active gay relative but she stands a chance of salvation precisely because I honor Romans 1 and pray for her for decades now….that she stops at least prior to death. The people who accept her sin as non sin have no impetus to pray for her. Who in the long run is her real friend?

  • elleblue

    I still do not understand why anyone who suspects someone is being sexually abused doesn’t go straight to the police?

    The Church and its staff are not properly trained to investigate any of these complaints and the police are, it’s their job, let them do their job.

    I worked with teens for over 20 years and everyone of them (over 80%) who reported being sexually abused and whom I accomplained to the police had their complaints investigated and resolved in a responsible and respectful manner.

    We continue to have these issues in the Church because they are attempting to do a job they are not suited to do! Who knows, maybe in ten or fifteen years time church staff will be trained adequately and things will be different. Until then, children need to be protected at ALL COSTS!!!

  • kenneth

    What needs to happen is mandatory reporting laws that will put priests and bishops at risk of felony prosecution if they fail to report a reasonable suspicion of abuse. Then they need to start using heavy duty racketeering prosecutions against bishops who are found to have concealed crimes over a period of years. When a few of those bozos draw life sentences and church properties are seized in criminal forfeiture proceedings, you’ll see how fast they start doing the right thing the first time!