MO - Victims to KC bishop: “Stay home”

A support group for clergy sex abuse victims is urging controversial Kansas City Bishop Robert Finn to stay home next week and “show contrition” - for acting “recklessly, callously and deceitfully” in clergy sex abuse cases - by skipping the annual meeting of America’s Catholic bishops.

Leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, are writing Finn and urging him to  withdraw from the meeting of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops” in order to show remorse for the way he has mishandled clergy abuse in his diocese of Kansas City. 

Last month, Finn became the first American bishop to be convicted of child endangerment, and has, SNAP maintains, repeatedly acted slowly and improperly in cases involving child sex abuse. The most recent and well-known example of Finn’s wrongdoing is the Fr. Shawn Ratigan case, in which he withheld evidence from police for over five months that showed Fr. Ratigan both had and created child pornography. Finn kept secret about that information and refused to protect kids from Fr. Ratigan despite a detailed report about Fr. Ratigan’s suspicious and inappropriate behavior from school officials and parents who worked with him.

But SNAP charges that Finn has acted similarly in other cases.

The bishop Finn also kept Fr. Michael Tierney on the job for more than six months, despite multiple allegations against him in at least two civil lawsuits. Fr. Tierney was suspended in 2011, only after Finn came under fire in the Fr. Ratigan case.

“Finn has offered only the most belated, grudging, and vague ‘apology’ for his egregious wrongdoing with Fr. Ratigan and no apology at all for his equally egregious wrongdoing with Fr. Tierney,” said Barbara Dorris, SNAP outreach director. “There will little real healing or prevention in his diocese until Finn takes tangible steps to reform and to show that he understands and feels contrite about his awful actions that kept predator priests near children and away from law enforcement.”

If Finn doesn’t voluntarily skip next week’s meeting, SNAP wants USCCB officials to disinvite him from as a punishment for his violation their Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and a deterrent to other bishops who might make similarly irresponsible moves in the future.

“If America’s bishops want us to believe that they are serious about protecting kids, they need to punish those who repeatedly endanger kids,” said David Clohessy, SNAP Director. “By refusing to act, they are sending a signal that message their ‘Charter’ isn’t worth the paper it’s been printed on.” 

A copy of the letter, sent today by fax and email, is below:

Dear Bishop Finn
We respectfully ask you to make a small, simple, and easy sign of contrition for the reckless, callous and deceitful way you have handled several recent clergy sex abuse and cover up cases.

We’re not just talking about the Fr. Ratigan case. We’re also referring to the Fr. Tierney case.

Regarding Ratigan, in the weakest way possible, you've said you're sorry. Now please show it. By your actions, please reassure clergy sex abuse victims and KC Catholics that you’re sincere. Please stay home next week. Please skip the annual meeting of the USCCB next week in Baltimore.

It’s easy and fine to use your words to express remorse. It’s harder and better, however, to use your actions to actually show remorse. That’s what you consistently refuse to do.

You refuse, for instance, to

--explain why Fr. Michael Tierney was allowed to remain in ministry, month after month, despite the accusations against him,

--apologize honestly for your actions in the Fr. Ratigan and Fr. Tierney cases, especially your hurtful attempt to argue that the disgusting pictures taken by Ratigan somehow did not constitute child pornography,

--take any real steps to search out victims of Thomas M. Reardon and Thomas J. O’Brien, Missouri’s most dangerous child molesting clerics. Each faces or has faced dozens of child sex abuse and cover up lawsuits, most of which have been settled. Both still live in Kansas City (and have) often worked in concert, giving drugs and liquor and porn and ‘massages’ to the same children, molesting them, and rationalizing one another’s crimes to these scared and confused youngsters who’d been taught since birth to respect, revere, trust and obey Catholic priests. Basic psychology and common sense strongly suggest that both Reardon and O’Brien remain dangerous.

--post the names of credibly accused predators on your diocesan website.

These are simple and easy steps that you should, and yet have repeatedly refused, to take. You claim to want to protect your flock, but your actions indicate that you still want, even more, to protect yourself, your reputation, and your child molesting clerics.

How can the cause of justice, prevention, healing and closure be served by "business as usual" in the wake of your conviction? Doesn't an offense like yours - recent, serious, and reckless - merit some kind of discipline – either by your colleagues or yourself?

If you truly respect the USCCB, care about your flock, want to deter future recklessness and are sorry for your serious crime, we urge you to stay home.


David Clohessy, SNAP Director
314 566 9790, [email protected]

Barbara Dorris, SNAP Outreach Director
314 503 0003, [email protected]

Mike Hunter, Kansas City SNAP Director
913 634 6490, [email protected]

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