We both applaud, and ache for, this brave family. We believe the courage they are showing today will help expose the truth, give consolation to other suffering families, and help enable other victims who are trapped in shame, secrecy and self blame to step forward into the light of healing, justice and prevention.
What’s different about how KC Catholic officials dealt with Msgr. Thomas O’Brien over two decades and how they dealt with Fr. Shawn Ratigan over two years? Very little.
Both were reported to diocese staffers long before they were ousted from ministry.
(According to one lawsuit, O’Brien was reported in 1972 but was allowed to keep ministering until 2004. According to another lawsuit, Ratigan was reported in 2006 but was allowed to keep ministering until last December.)
Both were sent to “treatment” (probably at church-run facilities where their secrets would be safe).
Both were told by church supervisors to not engage in sexual misdeeds again (a meaningless gesture).
Both were then sent to another church setting.
(O’Brien was sent to St. Thomas More parish where he was listed as “in residence.” Ratigan was sent to a church facility in Independence.)
Both were protected by church officials, who told the police, parishioners and the public virtually nothing about their crimes.
Both then lived and worked around unsuspecting staff and children.
(In both Nativity parish and St. Thomas More, O’Brien was around unsuspecting families. And in last week’s “Graves report,” two Vincentian priests who lived with Fr. Ratigan this spring say they were NOT told by Bishop Finn about Ratigan and his pornographic photos.)
Both then re-offended.
What has changed? Virtually nothing.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – there’s only one hope for real reform here: Victims, witnesses and whistleblowers must keep coming forward, and police and prosecutors must ‘throw the book’ at Catholic officials who ignore, conceal and enable child sex crimes (while deceiving the police, the parishioners, the public and even their own priests).
(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, firstname.lastname@example.org), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)