MO - Victims blast ‘silly & deceptive’ church abuse report

For immediate release: Thursday, Sept. 8           

Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, [email protected])

Two Kansas City Catholic officials, Bishop Robert Finn and Carrie Cooper, in an act of stunning callousness, have issued a four page abuse ‘report’ that is deceptive and pathetic and harmful. It hides key information, hurts victims, and helps no one.

First, today Shawn Ratigan is being sentenced. Finn and Cooper rub salt into the wounds of Ratigan’s victims by pulling a carefully-crafted public relations stunt on a long-awaited day of closure for those who have suffered and are suffering because of Ratigan’s crimes and Finn’s crimes.

Their timing is reprehensible. Shame on both of them. Cooper should be particularly ashamed, since she trumpets herself as being involved in ‘healing.’

Second, it’s been said that a fish rots from the head down. So long as a diocese is headed by a criminal, especially one who has suffered no real consequences for his crimes, what low level church employees say is meaningless.

Third, Finn and Cooper insult the intelligence of Kansas City Catholics and citizens with this report issued on this date. They somehow believe that many will not recognize this PR stunt for what it is. We believe KC Catholics and citizens are smarter than that.

Fourth, Cooper is being used by Finn. It’s sad that she lets herself be exploited like this. Nonetheless, we will welcome and support her someday when she joins the ranks of brave women like Margaret Mata and Sr. Jean Christensen and brave men like Larry Probst and Pat O’Neill, who have left the diocese and courageously and compassionately helped protect kids, help victims, and expose and prevent crimes and deceit.

Here’s what strikes up about the report                  

-- It reveals that a counselor (Leslie Guillot) has been replaced by a nun (Sr. Suzanne Fitamaurice). That’s a step backwards. There should be fewer clerics, not more clerics, on the board.

-- Like the last two reports by church staffer Jenifer Valenti, this one hides the most important information: the names, status and whereabouts of proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesters. The report provides some numbers. It provides no names. Thus, it protects no one except wrongdoers.

-- It mentions two recently substantiated allegations of child sexual abuse that resulted in “suspensions from public ministry.” But it doesn’t tell us who or where these credibly accused individuals are. One could be a high-ranking church official who has fled the country. The other could be a church custodian whose wife runs an in-home day care facility. We don’t know because Finn, Valenti and Cooper refuse to tell us.  (Fr. Shawn Ratigan, it should be noted, had been “suspended from public ministry” and then went on to hurt more kids because he wasn’t supervised, monitored and kept away from children.)

-- Finn and Cooper brag that the hand-picked diocesan abuse panel’s chair has “established a vigorous meeting schedule.” That’s pathetic. Does anyone really believe that Catholic officials ignored or concealed heinous child sex crimes because a small, hand-picked church committee didn’t have a “vigorous meeting schedule?”

--Finn and Cooper brag that the diocese has “developed new [a] universal code of ethics for all diocesan personnel.” First, this is something that’s mandated by the US bishops’ abuse policy. This isn’t a voluntary move. It’s required. Second, does anyone really believe that children were raped because a diocese lacked a ‘universal code of ethics?’ Catholic officials admit that almost 7,000 priests have sexually assaulted 100,000 kids. Would even one of them have been stopped had their bishop adopted an ethics code?

--James Corwin, the panel’s chair, writes “we must examine every allegation of abuse.” Of course, that didn’t happen in the Ratigan case. Bishop Finn, Rebecca Summers, Msgr. Robert Murphy and others hid evidence of Ratigan’s crimes from both the police AND Finn’s own hand-picked panel. And Finn suffered no consequences for that. So why wouldn’t Finn hide more allegations from his panel again in the future?

--In another shrewd public relations maneuver, Cooper insists on calling Finn’s hand-picked panel of church loyalists an “independent review board.” It is not. There’s nothing ‘independent’ about it. Each and every person on it was chosen by a criminal, Finn himself.

Kansas City Catholics and citizens deserve better than this. More important, Kansas City victims of child molesting clerics and complicit officials deserve better than this. And most important, Kansas City kids deserve real protection, not public relations.

Shame on Finn, Valenti, Cooper and other church employees involved in this hurtful sham.

Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, [email protected])

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