For immediate release: Tuesday, May 27, 2014
Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314-503-0003, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)
Last night, Pope Francis claimed that three bishops are under investigation – one of whom has been convicted – regarding the child sexual abuse scandal. We believe and hope one of them is Bishop Robert Finn in Kansas City. (We in SNAP don't know of another bishop who has been convicted of endangering kids who is still on the job, so we are fairly confident Francis is talking about Finn.)
Finn deserves to be fired or at least demoted because of his deceit, recklessness, callousness and selfishness in pedophile priest cases (Everyone knows about Finn's wrongdoing in the Fr. Shawn Ratigan case. But he also kept Fr. Michael Tierney on the job in a parish for more than six months, despite multiple allegations against him in at least two civil lawsuits, and has mishandled numerous other cases.)
For decades, Catholic officials have excelled at saying the right things about abuse and cover up. They make grand speeches about how they are going to tackle the on-going crisis. And time and time again they refuse to take real action to stop those who are committing or concealing child sex crimes. This must end if kids are to become safer in the church.
In the past 25 years, we know of just four or five low level church staff who have been disciplined in anyway.
We know of no bishops who have been disciplined. And we're convinced that this is why the cover ups continue – because those who enable this horror by stonewalling prosecutors, stiff-arming police, shredding documents, and transferring predators are promoted, not punished, in the church.
Almost two years ago, Bishop Finn was criminally convicted in a court of law for not reporting suspected child sex crimes, but he remains on the job today, with just as much power as before. Not one of the world's 4,000 Catholic bishops and not even one of the Vatican's hundreds of staffers have denounced Finn. Neither of the last two popes have done or said anything to hold Finn responsible for his egregious and deliberate wrongdoing.
Pope Francis has said many times that he is going to make changes to protect kids, but in the more than a year since he was appointed we have not seen real change. So we are skeptical about whether there will really “be no preferential treatment when it comes to child abuse” (as he claims). But we hope we are wrong. For the sake of innocent kids, we hope Francis will demote or defrock Finn so that kids will be protected and so that bishops won't keep concealing crimes.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 25 years and have more than 18,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)