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. Bron:

    Arendt was no hypocrite. Rather she was one of the first to analyze the rise of mass movements. She was likewise no Nazi. That she had an affair with her professor who was pro-Hitler tells me only that she was human. It does not follow that he adopted his philosophy or his ideas. To suggest otherwise is character assassination. One cannot help –and only rarely affect –feelings of passion for another. Think Carville and Matalin.

  2. Mespo:

    Wasnt Arendt the mistress of Martin Heidegger? And wasnt Heidegger an ardent Nazi?

    Seems to me Arendt should have taken heed of her idea that only the hypocrite is rotten to the core. She would know.

  3. Raff & AY:

    Glad to help out guys. I like recounting ingrained corruption . I keep little mental notes of the outrageous folks I come across. Seems they just keep coming back for more. The hypocrisy always comes out sooner or later. They never disappoint. It’s why I like that Hannah Arendt quote so much.*

    *What makes it so plausible to assume that hypocrisy is the vice of vices is that integrity can indeed exist under the cover of all other vices except this one. Only crime and the criminal, it is true, confront us with the perplexity of radical evil; but only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core.

  4. “So if the organ that the church official belongs to can be charged criminally, why can’t the media organ the journalist belongs to (newspaper, TV station, etc.) be charged criminally?”

    If the newspaper’s editors and owner conspire with the reporter to commit a crime, yes, they can be charged with a crime.

  5. You might recall Bishop Finn as one of those reactionary American bishops who, during the 2008 election, urged Catholics — on moral grounds — to oppose Obama or face eternal damnation. Seems he only cares abut “children” in the womb but doesn’t give ahoot afther they’re out of it.

    I wonder how his Almighty will view his looking the other way on abuse of children in his flock by those he directly “supervised.” and then covered for. I heard He called the Pope the other day and said he needs Finn’s neck size for that millstone. Pope went ahead and gave his measurements, too.

    Fundies are fundies are fundies.

  6. Frankly,

    In this case it probably can be both…Shit outta Luck or Statute of Limitations..

  7. AY – when I read your 1st post I thought SOL= shit outta luck but quickly realized you meant statute of limitations . . . then figured same~same for the victims

  8. According to the below article the priest, after being removed from his duties by the Bishop, continued contact with parishioner’s including children. This against the orders of the Archbishop. Once aware of those facts the Bishop did not contact the police and Ratigan continued to disobey the Bishop’s orders and maintain contact with parishioner’s.

    If that is true I certainly hope that is under investigation to see if what he was in fact doing. If he did continue to further victimize children then it looks to me like the Bishop should be able to be charged as a conspirator since any criminal behaviour went on after the Bishop knew about the activity.

  9. There must be some other meaning to “Diocese” besides territory, because they did not charge the other minister or bishop, and the maximum fine for the “Diocese” is $5,000 …

    Loosey goosey …

  10. Anonymously Yours 1, October 15, 2011 at 4:20 pm


    With all due respect….Unless they are shielding the actor then I agree with you….but if they shield and protect the actor to continue what he/she is doing then yes….they can be tagged as a conspirator….
    Yes and pigs can fly when they can fly but can’t when they can’t.

    Conspiracy theory requires knowledge of the conspiracy on the part of the one accused of being a participant, and some act in furtherance of the conspiracy.

    ” … Finn — leader of the 134,000-member diocese — ”

    Are you saying everyone, all 134,000 members in the Diocese and everyone in each and every parish therein are guilty of that?


    1. Sir,

      with all due respect… Yes… They can… Conspiracy involves a hub….a cog or something like that… If they wanted to press it….How about this as an example….this is make believe ok?

      You and your wife start a business….it is going well….all of a sudden…it starts to get a little shaky….You need cash… bank loans are due….what do you do….You have a sales person selling and bringing in cash….is it a good time to shut them down….because they are a pedophile….you are pulling in millions a year…..sir, what would you do?

  11. Dredd,
    The Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph is not just an area of land or a group of people, it is a corporate entity. When a corporation engages in illegal activity, are not the corporate officers and/or Board of Directors potentially liable? I respectfully believe that you are confusing the general definition of a diocese with the corporate entitiy that is involved here, the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.

  12. A Jackson County grand jury has indicted Bishop Robert Finn and the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph on misdemeanor charges of failure to report child abuse.”

    The charges are misdeameanor charges. That should have been mentioned in the post, because indictments usually are only for felonies.

  13. The idea of criminal responsibility on the part of a “person” who is not also a “human” has interested me (a layperson who is also a human) for a long time. But take this idea and somebody come back to me: in an appeal brief, the attorney general of Maryland recently put forth the idea that since a partner of a law firm had entered an appearance in a Circuit Court case, his whole firm, the whole LLP, was representing the client in that case in that court. Thus, when the partner’s young associate entered an agreed “line of dismissal” in the case, without the client’s permission or knowledge, that was the act of the firm for whom the associate worked so it was the act of th attorney [firm] that had entered the appearance so that could not be vacated, set aside, etc. The partner was enabled to act on behalf of the client; so thus his firnm was enabled to act on behalf of the client; so thus an employee of his firm (not even licensed in Maryland) was eabled to act on behalf of the client. Now, of course, my question is this: isn’t every single partner and every single employee of that firm then “on the hook” for whatever actions are taken by any of them? If they all have equal rights to dispose of a client’s rights, they must surely all bear equal responsibility, must they not? I think if the diocese is convicted, it should serve life without parole or, in the alternative, it should do community service supervised by the civil authorities.

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