Ineffectual Symbolism and Hollow Gestures

Call me a hopeless optimist, but I think the developments in LA put more pressure on the Vatican to take action against Bishop Finn in Kansas City.

Don't misunderstand me: Mahony's so-called 'restrictions' and Curry's so-called 'resignation' are ineffectual symbolism and hollow gestures. Both retain their titles (Cardinal and Bishop, respectively). Both have ever-so-slightly lighter workloads. Both keep their salaries, health insurance, dental coverage, car allowances, and all the rest.

Both will be a little bit less visible. (That, however, may be advantageous for them, given how horrifically they've treated hundreds of victims and hundreds of thousands of Catholics.)

Still, something has been done in LA. In contrast, nothing has been done in KC.

One can argue "Mahony and Curry have been deceptive for much longer than Finn." True, but Finn's deception – in the Fr. Shawn Ratigan case and others - is far more recent.

Mahony and Curry claim "years ago, we didn't understand, but now we've learned." That’s a pretty weak excuse to begin with, but since Finn’s deception occurred long after the clergy sex abuse crisis exploded, there’s no way he could use a similar excuse.

Mahony and Curry have huge staffs, but Finn's diocese and staff are much smaller. It's harder for him to pretend "my underlings didn't tell me" or "my staff misinformed me."

The tiny consequences against Mahony and Curry have come far too late and are far too weak. But they are something. They’re better than nothing.

Bishop Finn, however, has felt no repercussions from his church colleagues or superiors (even though he has been slightly punished by the secular authorities).

In the past year, more punishments (small though they may be) have been doled out to church officials than ever before. From Msgr. William  Lynn in Philadelphia to Cardinal Roger Mahony in Los Angeles, the Vatican must take notice. Perhaps, they’ll even do the right thing and take action in Kansas City.


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