Finn’s lawyers seem determined to do exactly what Finn’s doing – trying desperately to act like there were just a few dumb mistakes, when in fact, for months or years, several smart church officials deliberately chose secrecy over safety dozens of times.
Deliberate, sustained cover ups aren’t caused or cured by formal written policies or job titles. They're caused by self-serving, status-conscious individuals who put saving their jobs and reputations above saving kids. That’s what’s happening here.
In places, however, the actual interviews of key Catholic officials contradict the “dumb mistakes” approach. In fact, two comments within the Graves report reveal the true intent of the church hierarchy:
---A deacon said that Finn’s second-in-command “expressed hesitation about telling Finn’s abuse panel about Ratigan because that panel might “exaggerate the issue, causing (church officials) to ‘lose control’ of the situation.” (P. 122)
-- Finn’s second-in-command said “he asked Bishop Finn what the Diocese should do to recover additional (photos of kids from Ratigan’s computer)” and “Bishop Finn advised he should let the attorneys ‘take the lead.’” (p. 96)
These quotes make it clear that keeping secrets and letting lawyers take charge were priorities, not telling the truth and protecting the kids.
While in many places it’s stunningly naïve, the report does contain two important revelations.
-- Finn apparently deceived two priests who voluntarily agreed to let Ratigan live with them after his suicide attempt. (Finn claims he told them of Ratigan's porn. Both priests, however, dispute Finn's claim.)
-- Warnings to top church staff about Ratigan came even earlier than diocesan officials have admitted.
The report also recaps some crucial, damning facts: “According to Msgr. Murphy and Bishop Finn, no steps were taken to identify any of the children in the photographs. In addition, DFS was never notified.
Further, the IRB was not notified” and “the Diocese made no effort to notify the parents and families at St.Patrick’s Parish or other parishes were Fr. Ratigan had been assigned.”
The report’s filled with many painfully obvious, if understated, comments:
-- The failure to take stronger action with Fr. Ratigan had real and direct consequences for Diocesan families. (p. 111)
-- The Diocese’s handling of reports regarding Fr. Ratigan was flawed from the outset.
-- As soon as the photographs were discovered on Fr. Ratigan’s laptop, police should have been formally notified.
But the lawyers still act like adding some phrases to the official diocesan procedure manual will make some kind of difference. It won’t.
Only vigorous action by police and prosecutors will make kids safer in the KC diocese.
(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 23 years and have more than 10,000 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)
Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, SNAPclohessy@aol.com), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, SNAPblaine@gmail.com), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, email@example.com), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)Link to report – http://www.diocese-kcsj.org/_docs/8-31-11_Report_of_Independent_Investigation.pdf