NE--Survivors: you should not reward a proven wrongdoer like Finn
For immediate release, February 1, 2016
January 27, 2016
Dear Bishop Conley:
We are members of a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org). Our goal is to protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded.
Recently, we learned that you have invited Bishop Robert Finn into your diocese and are letting him minister to nuns at Lincoln's School Sisters of Christ the King convent.
As you are well aware, he was convicted of refusing to tell police of suspected child sex crimes by Fr. Shawn Ratigan. He resigned as head of the Kansas City diocese. And he signed a contract
with 40+ victims, agreeing to take steps to prevent future abuse. But he was found by an arbitrator to have broken his word and his diocese was forced to pay $1.1 million to those brave victims.
The Ratigan case is far from the only case of known or suspected child sex crimes in which Finn acted recklessly, callously or deceitfully. For example, another credibly accused child molesting cleric, Fr. Michael Tierney, was kept on the job by Finn for more than six months despite multiple child sex abuse allegations against him in at least two lawsuits.
Here is perhaps the best summary of Finn’s disturbing track record on children’s safety in Kansas City:
Do just a little research, Bishop Conley. Check out the many other troubling abuse and cover up cases on Finn’s watch: Brother Richard Geimer, Bishop Joseph Hart, Msgr. Thomas O’Brien, Msgr. Thomas Reardon, and the other 21 publicly accused KC child molesting clerics posted on BishopAccountability.org
Some say that Finn has “paid for his mistake” by completing two years of probation. First, he made no “mistake”. He repeatedly and brazenly made deliberate choices to put his comfort and career ahead of the safety of kids and well-being of victims. Second, probation is a penalty imposed by secular authorities. Sadly, no church authorities have even tried to defrock, demote, discipline or even clearly denounce Finn. And there’s a difference between “paying for” one’s “mistake” and being given more chances to act irresponsibly again.
Some say we should forgive Finn. But we can forgive a drunken school bus driver without giving her the keys to another bus. And we can forgive Finn without putting him in ministry again where he might again learn of and ignore or conceal known or suspected child sex crimes.
Some say that Finn deserves mercy. That may be so. But that does not mean that he should be in ministry. “Mercy” has already been extended to him by virtue of his continuing paycheck, benefits and exalted title of bishop. Mercy has yet to be shown to the dozens of victims hurt on his watch or the hundreds hurt by his actions or the thousands of Catholics betrayed by his selfish choices.
It’s dreadfully disingenuous to claim, as you and one of your spokesmen JD Flynn are doing, that “Finn's offense was an administrative mistake”. It was not. It was a crime. There was a trial. Finn was found guilty. He was penalized.
It’s also disingenuous to claim, as you and Flynn are doing, that (Finn) failed to notify police immediately of (a now-convicted priest’s) behavior. Finn NEVER notified the police. (Months later, one of Finn’s underlings called the police.)
And, in fact, Finn kept information and suspicions about these heinous crimes from police for months. Finn, in fact, did not “fail”. Time and time again, Finn made deliberate, self-serving decisions to protect himself, his reputation and his priest, instead of protecting his flock.
Failure suggests a good faith effort that went awry. Had Finn tried to call the police but misdialed, that would have been a failure. Had he mailed evidence to police but forgot to put a stamp on the envelope, that would have been a failure.
But Finn did not “fail” to call the police. In the Ratigan case, he knowingly refused to do so, for months, and during those months, more child sex crimes were committed, more kids were hurt, more families were deceived and devastated.
Just last year, Pope Francis pledged that bishops would be held accountable for covering up sex crimes. We’re still waiting to see the Pope fulfill this promise. But regardless of what Francis does or doesn’t do, you should not reward a proven wrongdoer like Finn by giving him a position or ministry or authority in the Lincoln Diocese.
We anticipate and await your urgent response to this matter.
Judy Jones, 636-433-2511, SNAPJudy@gmail.com), 17170 Deer Mountain Rd. Marthasville, Mo. 63357, David Clohessy 314-566-9790, firstname.lastname@example.org), 7234 Arsenal, St. Louis MO 63143