There's a reason Bishop Finn's trial is happening on 24 hours notice, with few or no witnesses, before a judge, and on the day when President Obama speaks.
It's the same reason that hundreds of thousands of children across the globe have been sexually assaulted by Catholic priests, nuns, seminarians, brothers and bishops.
The reason is church officials continuing obsession with protecting their reputations above all else.
For months, Bishop Finn has been masterful with public relations - revamping policies, hiring staff, shuffling titles and pledging reform.
He's made another masterful public relations stroke today, making this proceeding shorter and quicker and more likely to prevent exposing just how complicit he and perhaps a dozen or more top Catholic officials are in the crimes of Fr. Shawn Ratigan.
But even the most savvy public relations maneuvers can't change one tragic fact: Catholic families and their daughters are deeply wounded because Bishop Finn and other key church employees acted recklessly, callously, deceitfully and selfishly.
No matter what happens toady, let's keep this in mind:
--Innocent young girls and their loved ones were hurt by Fr. Ratigan and by Bishop Finn's selfish decisions to protect a criminal over children.
--Those families are still suffering.
--Some that have been hurt by Fr. Ratigan are likely still trapped in confusion, silence, self-doubt and self-blame.
--All of us should reach
out to them, support them, and urge them to come forward, get help, expose wrongdoing, protect kids and start healing --Many who were hurt by the other 22 proven, admitted and credibly accused KC priests are also still suffering.
--They too need and deserve outreach.
--If Bishop Finn is found innocent, none of this changes.
--If Bishop Finn and the diocese pay fines, even the maximum fines, little will change.
--If Bishop Finn goes to jail (which we hope but don't expect), things WIOLL change, both here in KC and across the country.
We desperately hope that today's developments will bring some measure of sorely-needed comfort and solace to the victims of Fr. Ratigan, Fr. Tierney, Fr. Reardon, Msgr. O'Brien, Bishop Hart, and all the child molesting clerics who have worked or still work in Kansas City.
"You can't teach an old dog new tricks.” “Old habits die hard."
"Absolute power corrupts absolutely." There's a lot of truth in these old adages. No matter what penalty may be levied today against Bishop Finn and his diocese; it's unlikely to bring real change. Much work remains to be done to protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded.
Remember: The diocese is a defendant here too. Cover ups of clergy sex crime are commonplace throughout the church hierarchy. This isn't just about Bishop Finn. It's about a long-standing, deeply-rooted, dreadfully unhealthy culture and climate that permeates the church, even now, after decades of horrific scandal
Bishop Finn is no aberration. He may be the most visibly corrupt of America's Catholic bishops right now. But that's largely because he has been caught. For years and years, everyone assumed that each pedophile priest case that surfaced was somehow an "isolated instance" involving "one individual." With complicit bishops, we're now making the same mistake. Bishop Finn is the rule, not the exception.