Respectfully Submitted by Lawrence Rafferty (rafflaw)-Guest Blogger

I was surprised when I read an article yesterday that reported the news of an indictment that was handed down in Jackson County, Missouri.  You may be asking what is unusual about one more  indictment in the State of Missouri?  The news worthy aspect of this indictment is the person and organization that was indicted.  The Grand Jury in Jackson County indicted the Roman Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph as well as its Bishop, Bishop Robert Finn! 

“For the first time in the history of the United States, a Catholic bishop is facing criminal charges.  A Grand Jury in Jackson County, Missouri has indicted Bishop Robert Finn for failing to report child abuse. The Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph was also indicted.  Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker announced the charges at a news conference Friday.  “On or between Dec. 16 of 2010 and May 11 of 2011 in the County of Jackson, state of Missouri, the defendant was a mandated reporter and had reasonable cause to suspect a child may have been subjected to abuse due to the following things: Previous knowledge of concerns regarding Father Ratigan and children, the discovery of hundreds of photographs of children on Father Ratigan’s laptop including a child’s naked vagina, upskirt images and images focused on the crotch area in violation of restrictions that were placed on Father Ratigan,” Baker explained. ”  Raw Story    &  Kansas City Star 

This is record-breaking news that is long overdue.  For decades the Catholic Church has made it a sanctioned practice to hide sexual predators from their members as well as the local authorities. The most recent evidence of the Vatican approving of this ecclesiastic game of hide and seek was the uncovering of a Vatican memo congratulating a bishop for hiding an alleged sexual predator from the authorities.

“As a tide of previously confidential Catholic Church documents about child sexual abuse by priests has risen over recent weeks, the Vatican has been able to say that none of them was a “smoking gun” proving it had instructed bishops to cover up the scandals. This defense looks thinner than ever with the posting of a 2001 letter by Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos congratulating (yes, congratulating!) a bishop for not only hiding a self-confessed serial abuser but earning himself a criminal sentence for doing so. For more on the 2001 case, click here. ”   Reuters

As someone who grew up Catholic and raised his kids as Catholic, I don’t take personal pleasure in any church being accused of a serious crime or a Priest or minister or Rabbi being accused of wrongdoing.  However, in light of how serious and deep-rooted this Roman Catholic Church scandal has been, there is a degree of satisfaction that the enablers of these sexual crimes against children will finally see the hand of civil justice.  How many lives have been damaged and ruined by these men who have made a concerted effort to hide criminals from the police and civil authorities?

What also concerns me is that this news may actually open the eyes of many Catholics in this country who have repressed the idea that their Bishops and maybe Cardinals have been breaking the law and hiding the facts from police.  One can hope that true Catholics can realize that priests and even Bishops can be felons.  Maybe if Catholicism allowed women to be priests and to have a full seat at the table of Christ, these crimes would not have gone unpunished and unreported for decades.


  1. Mespo, do you have a blog of your own? Do you guest blog here sometimes? I’m new to the whole thing and don’t really understand blogging (and was LUCKY to be able to figure out how to join in the commentary activities!) so that is why I ask.


  2. Malisha:

    I’m an uneducated person, in general, but I have read Arendt. Oh well, in this best of all possible worlds, I will do my best.”


    I’ll take your brand of “illiteracy” anytime my dear, Pangloss. Arendt is an education.

  3. This is OT. Or maybe not. On the TV program “Family Feud” the question was, “What do you put in your mouth but don’t swallow.”

    Hilarity ensues.

  4. Malisha,
    I am an attorney licensed to practice in Illinois. I do not specialize in Constitutional law. Prof. Turley is the Constitutional Law expert.

  5. Rafflaw, if I may ask (I am new to blogging and don’t know protocol), are you a Florida lawyer or someone from Illinois? Do you specialize in constitutonal law? Are you reace-car driver? Or what? (That “or what?” is the New Jersey “or what?” not to be confused with the Eurotrash “or what?”)

  6. Mespo, thank you. Now I have homework (Voltaire). I’m an uneducated person, in general, but I have read Arendt. Oh well, in this best of all possible worlds, I will do my best.

    For a while now I have been urging upon folks the idea that the reason there are so many pedophile priests is UNRELATED to the celibacy vows and relates, instead, to the patriarchal character of having a priest as “father.” The father-power has always included sexual ownership. Note in the Old Testament that there are laws against “lying with” members of the immediate family EXCEPT DAUGHTERS. (The laws were written for men; laws against “lying with” sons were unnecessary because any male homosexual contact was already forbidden.) In the Catholic priesthood the priest really is the “father” in terms of his authority and, of course, his immunity. I tended to espouse the (untested) theory that priests were more often molesters than non-priest males only because they had no children of their own. Among non-priest fathers, it is probably the same proportion as among priests but nobody “knows” about it. See, a priest accused of molesting an alter boy cannot get out of it by suing for custody (and winning). A father can, and the ABA defense bar articles advocated just that approach as early as 1990. See Rosen and Etlin, HOSTAGE CHILD: SEX AB USE ALLEGATIONS IN CUSTODY DISPUTES, Indiana University Press 1995.

  7. Malisha:

    “But when you have an organized effort to sanctify any evil deed that is done by a person who operates in a protected class (church, state, parent, powerful, charismatic, etc.), that sanctification indulges inevitably in the vilification of the accuser/victim. There’s the greatest evil.”


    Good thoughts all, Malisha. You are channeling Voltaire who made his own observation on church-sponsored evil saying, “So long as we believe absurdities, we shall commit atrocities.”

  8. Mespo:

    neiter Matalin nor Carville are sympathisers with a great evil. Heidegger was and it begs the question of Arendt’s life philosophy as to why she would love someone who supported that type of evil.

    If my wife was for the murder of 6 million souls and supported a regime which sent those souls to their death, I would shove her out the door as fast as I could. Love is something more than physical attraction and if she was that physically attracted to him to the point of disregarding his complicity in the Nazi regime, she has no credibility as an intellectual.

    The mind and body are not separate beings and it is telling she would be attracted to a person like Heidegger. An evil like the Nazis is not banal it is profound. She makes excuses for them by calling it banal.

    These priests are not banal nor are they hypocrites. They probably joined the priesthood knowing of their predilection. They should not have joined and the Church should have thrown them out and had them arrested as soon as it was discovered.

  9. Thanks for the Arendt quote, very profound and clarifying.

    One thing that occurs to me from this series of comments (and the original blog post, for which thank you) is this: the cover-up is worse than the crime. When you have people, you have imperfect people; they have plenty of good and evil in them tossed like salad; they do wrong. But when you have an organized effort to sanctify any evil deed that is done by a person who operates in a protected class (church, state, parent, powerful, charismatic, etc.), that sanctification indulges inevitably in the vilification of the accuser/victim. There’s the greatest evil.

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