MO - Victims challenge KC bishop on two priests

One was convicted of stealing from churches

The other was ousted from parish last Friday

Sex abuse victims want bishop to be more “open

Neither, as best SNAP can tell, faces child sex allegations

For immediate release: Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013

For more information: David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP Director (314) 566-9790cell, [email protected]

A support group for clergy sex abuse victims is challenging Kansas City’s Catholic bishop over two priests – one who was convicted of burglarizing churches and another who was recently ousted from his parish.

Leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, are urging Bishop Robert Finn to be “honest with parishioners and the public” about the two clerics:

--Fr. Glenn Gardner, who now works at St. Patrick’s Oratory in Kansas City (806 Cherry, 816 474 8995, was convicted on felony theft/burglary charges in Wisconsin in 2000.,6454240

--Fr. Jorge Ramirez, who is a Boise diocesan priest, was removed from his post at Sacred Heart-Guadalupe parish (2544 Madison, 816 842 6146, [email protected]) last Friday.

Kansas City Bishop Robert Finn isn’t disclosing why Fr. Ramirez was ousted.

According to the Jan. 5, 2000 issue of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Fr. Gardner and a colleague “were accused of stealing thousands of dollars’ worth of antiques from Catholic churches in Thorp and Stanley in August. Stolen items included linen, candles, a pair of 3-foot-high altar candlesticks, an incense burner, two candelabra, a ciborium that holds communion wafers and a $9,000 monstrance that displays eucharistic bread.” 

 “Priests who steal aren’t our concern. Bishops who hide crimes are our concern,” said David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP’s director. “This is especially true in Kansas City, where the bishop himself is a convicted criminal and repeatedly claims he’s reforming.”

“Some may argue that everyone should forgive Fr. Gardner,” said Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, SNAP’s outreach director. “But he repeatedly broke the law and, like so many criminal priests, was sent to work elsewhere among Catholics who likely were not told of his crimes.”

“It’s also a little troubling that he stole from churches and now works at a church,” she said.

The “rector” or head priest at St. Patrick’s is Fr.  William Avis (816-885-6361,[email protected]). Gardner’s phone is 816-931-5612. He was promoted last month.

“Finn will split hairs and deny responsibility, claiming he doesn’t know about or can’t do anything about Fr. Gardner’s conviction,” said Dorris. “We disagree. Catholic bishops have nearly limitless power in their dioceses. So Finn can – and should – at least alert KC citizens and Catholics that a convicted criminal is wearing a clerical collar and working at a Catholic church in the area.”

The Institute is based in Italy. It was brought to the US by then-Bishop Raymond Burke of LaCrosse, who went on to head the St. Louis archdiocese and is now the highest-ranking US prelate in the Vatican.

At least one priest at the Institute’s Wisconsin location (where Fr. Gardner worked) was accused of child sexual abuse.

Fr. Ramirez is believed to be from Colombia originally and to have also worked at a St. Patrick’s parish in St. Joseph MO. Sacred Heart/Guadalupe is at least Fr. Ramirez’ fourth assignment since being ordained in 2006.

“It’s unusual for a diocesan priest to be transferred that often, especially to another diocese, without any real reason being given,” said Clohessy.

The statement given to Sacred Heart-Guadalupe parishioners on Sunday about Fr. Ramirez is here:

Dear Friends in Christ,

I regret that I must announce to you I have removed Fr. Jorge Ramirez as Administrator of Sacred Heart-Guadalupe Parish. My office has received a variety of complaints concerning Fr. Ramirez which I have considered serious enough to merit removing him from his priestly responsibilities at the parish.

Fr. Ramirez is a priest of the Diocese of Boise, Idaho who has been on loan to the Diocese of Kansas City - St. Joseph for about five years. I appointed him Administrator of Sacred Heart-Guadalupe in June of this year. He was removed as Administrator on October 31. I would like to stress that none of the complaints alleged against Fr. Ramirez involve any type of impropriety with a minor.

Because of the sudden nature of this change, we do not immediately have a new administrator for Sacred Heart-Guadalupe. I am very grateful to those priests giving of their time to serve here and to the Office of Human Resources which will be assisting parish staff during this time of transition.

I pray that your deep Faith will sustain you in this challenging time, and that the wonderful work of Sacred Heart-Guadalupe Parish will continue for many more generations.

SNAP plans to write to Finn about both cases soon.

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