MO--KC bishop is ousted-a tiny step forward
For immediate release: Tuesday, April 21, 2015
Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, director of SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, [email protected])
Finally, more than two years after his conviction, Bishop Robert Finn has been ousted. This is a tiny but belated step forward.
After centuries of abuse and cover up done in secrecy, and decades of abuse and cover up done somewhat in public, one pope has finally seen fit to oust one bishop for complicity in clergy sex crimes. That's encouraging. But it's only a very tiny drop of reform in an enormous bucket of horror.
Finn's departure will, in the short term, make some adults happier. By itself, it won't, in the long term, make many kids safer.
Keep in mind that dozens of Kansas City Catholic employees are concealing or have concealed clergy sex crimes. So it's irresponsible for anyone to get complacent. Protecting predators and endangering kids is a deeply-rooted and long-standing pattern in the Catholic hierarchy. It didn't start with one man and won't stop with one man.
There were dozens of church staff who could and should have stopped Fr. Shawn Ratigan's crimes by simply calling 911. But they protected themselves and their jobs by staying silent. They too should be ousted by the Vatican.
But the scandal in Kansas City goes far beyond the Ratigan crisis. In the early 1990s, we declared that it was one of the most mean-spirited in the US regarding how it treats survivors, especially those who seek justice in court.
It still is. Finn continues to exploit several legal technicalities to protect child molesting clerics and deny victims their day in court.
Virtually no KC Catholic employee has had the courage to speak up when Finn:
-argues in court that he's not responsible when a priest sexually assaults a child on private property (And Finn has won on this claim.)
– let his priests try to violate the privacy of child sex abuse victims, witnesses, whistleblowers and advocates by subpoenaing personal mail and email going back decades.
Virtually no KC Catholic employee has had the courage to speak up when:
– in the weeks after the Fr. Ratigan crisis exploded, five other KC area clerics were accused of or suspended for alleged sexual misconduct. (Fr. Michael Tierney, Fr. James Urbanic, Fr. Bede Parry, seminarian Nicholas Pinkston and Msgr. Robert Murphy. All but Parry and Pinkston were in active ministry when they were accused.)
–it was disclosed that KC church official paid for a serial predator priest, Msgr. Thomas Reardon, to become a licensed counselor, even after several credible abuse allegations against him were made.
Virtually no KC Catholic employee has had the courage to warn a single parent or parishioner about:
--Fr. Thomas Cronin of Nevada, who is involved with a homeless women's shelter in Nevada despite a pending civil lawsuit in Kansas City that charges him with sexually violating a young woman.
–-Bishop Joseph Hart of Wyoming who, as a priest in KC, molested at least six boys. (They have sued and those suits have settled.)
Virtually no KC Catholic employee spoke up when Finn:
--kept Fr. Tierney on the job for six months even after he'd been named in two child sex abuse lawsuits,
–“outed” three abuse victims
– ousted Fr. Jorge Ramirez last fall from a KC parish citing unspecified complaints.
Virtually no KC Catholic employee spoke up on behalf of brave whistleblowers like Margaret Mata or Larry Probst or joined us to challenge Finn for keeping Fr. Glenn Gardner in a KC parish despite having stolen from churches in Wisconsin:
So to us it's clear: despite new promises, pledges, panels, protocols and procedures - and new scandals - in the Kansas City diocese, no one in the church hierarchy is really reforming.
There have however, been a few brave and compassionate church staff in Kansas City in recent years, individuals like Jim McConnell who confronted Finn and quit on the eve of his deaconate ordination because of the Ratigan scandal and Sr. Jean Christensen who has been outspoken in her advocacy for kids and victims. There have been several secular heroes, including Detective Maggie McGuire and prosecutor Jean Peters Baker.
But the overwhelming majority of current and recent Catholic employees in Kansas City who knew of or suspected clergy sex crimes and kept quiet should be ashamed of themselves and should be at least suspended – or more likely fired – by the next KC bishop.
There are now, according to BishopAccountability.org, 25 publicly accused Kansas City area child molesting clerics. That's a fraction of the real total. Finn alone did not enable, ignore and conceal their crimes. Sadly, he has had and still has plenty of help continuing the cover ups.
So vigilance, not complacency, is needed now. It's crucial that those who see, suspect or suffer clergy sex crimes and cover ups in KC keep finding the strength to get help, protect kids, call police, expose wrongdoers, deter wrongdoing, and start healing.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We were founded in 1988 and have more than 20,000 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)