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.