Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.
Friday, September 30, 2016

The headline on the website of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops reads like good news: “Child Protection Audits Find Nearly All Dioceses Compliant.”

What they were complying with, as the accompanying press release explained, was a set of zero-tolerance policies the bishops conference put in place a decade ago in response to the unfolding scandal involving the sexual abuse of children by clergy members.

The view from Kansas City is far less consoling. In September, their bishop will stand trial in criminal court for failing to report suspected child sexual abuse. Bishop Robert Finn will be the highest-ranking U.S. Catholic official to be tried on such charges. The case stems from how the bishop handled the case of a priest now charged with possessing and producing pornographic photos of young girls, some of which were taken around churches and schools.

Many outraged Catholics in Kansas City are wondering how this could have happened. The church has argued — and, indeed, it does so in the just-released annual audit report — that the worst of its child sexual abuse problem is in the past. New allegations of abuse are made each year, but three-fourths of the credible new allegations made in 2011 were from adults reporting incidents long ago, from 1960 to 1984.

Yet the Kansas City case suggests that the sexual abuse saga of the U.S. Catholic Church is far from over, despite the largely positive review by auditors and years of multimillion-dollar settlements.

In its 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, the church instituted a litany of protocols, including new reporting procedures and expectation that dioceses would train staff and volunteers to recognize and report suspected abuse. The annual audit is supposed to monitor the progress of those reforms.

But if certain church hierarchs don’t adhere to the rules, if they fall back on their own judgments rather than those of law enforcement, children will still be at risk. That’s what happened in Kansas City.

In May 2010, the principal of a parochial school wrote a chilling letter to the diocese complaining that Fr. Shawn Ratigan was behaving inappropriately with young girls. Nothing appears to have been done in the priest’s case until the following December, when questionable photos of young girls and toddlers were found on Ratigan’s computer. Finn finally moved the priest to a mission of nuns to get him away from parochial school children. Neither he nor any other church official reported to police about the images, even though state law required them to. Nor did Finn apprise a diocesan review board, in place to help oversee such issues, of the full concerns about Ratigan

  • The pedophiles are up in arms about birth control. Less children to molest that way. Every single one from Bishop up should be in prison

  • The quick answer to the headline is no. They’ve had well over a handful of decades to get a handle on the problem. They’ve obfuscated and delayed over and over again. I had little respect for that organized religion long before this disgusting stuff came out, and I have even less for the Catholic Church today. They have a great deal to answer for and if they respect those who still believe they had better push down on the gas and solve the problem.

  • This is a real rarity. A Catholic priest that preffers young girls?

  • deebastet

    I question why so many faithful Catholics continue to support the Church. From the Pope down they have proven they can not police their own and the children suffer.

  • Just trying to protect the church.

  • howa4x

    It’s far from over. Ireland just fired the dioseces there from running the schools which they had done for centuries over the revelations of on going sexual abuse of boys. The government called it a national shame that the police didn’t investigate claims of abuse because it was holy mother church. In Nj preist was just alleged to have a history of sexual abuse and stories will come out more and more as the boys(now men ) feel less ashamed of what happened to them. Soon we will be reading stories from south America and all over the world.

    Don’t forget this is a church that not only had the iquisition, the crusades, the burning of over 1 million women at the stake, the conquest of South America which resulted in the death of 11 million, under the watchful eye of the church, and the holocaust where again the church that stood silent, and new revelations that the vatican helped smuggle Hitlers Nazi’s to South America. Since the Borgias this church has prospered while the people starved, conducted wars, so no one should be schocked by the sexual abuse scandal.

  • The whole churchy thing is just a cover for a gang of child rapists. And rubes keep giving them money.

  • the catholic church is the most corrupt body of perverts in the planets history. they murder, steal,start wars, and cause their worshippers all over the planet to live in squaller, while demanding money and children for the church. great con , where do you think governments learned?

  • Christian Martin

    The real reason The Catholic Church is so opposed to homosexuality and birth control is that both cause there to be a shortage of fresh young children to molest and abuse. This is not Rocket Science or Quantum Mechanics. Did we ever hear of the Mob policing itself to “root out corruption” within their own? Did Hitler and the Nazi regime ever try weeding out dishonesty and immorality within their own? Fundamental Muslim terrorists and Islamic terrorists have killed less people and caused less damage than the Catholic Empire. Even if you add the staggering number of people killed and injured by Hitler,Stalin, and Mousselini the figures still pale in comparison to the Catholic Regime. Where is our global war on Catholocism?