Catholic Magazine Calls Church out on Sexual Abuse Response

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October 1, 2012; Source: America

America, the national Catholic weekly magazine, has an editorial in its current edition that warrants attention from the nonprofit sector. The America editors draw a comparison between the sad and inadequate efforts of the United States to escape its responsibility for the use of torture (during military conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and—to our surprise—Libya, back when the Qaddafi regime was a purported U.S. ally) with the efforts of some Catholic bishops to sidestep responsibility for dealing with sexual abuse perpetrated by the priests they supervise.

The U.S. Bishops’ “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” instructs supervisors about how to deal with credible accusations of a priest sexual abuse, which includes reporting the information to the police, removing the priest while investigations are going on, dismissing the priest permanently if he is found guilty, and sometimes defrocking or laicizing the guilty party. America asks, in light of the conviction of Kansas City Bishop Robert Finn, “what happens when [the priest’s] supervising bishop is found guilty of negligence or malfeasance?”

Bishop Finn has been convicted of a misdemeanor for failing to report the suspected child abuse of Rev. Shawn Ratigan, a parish priest who had been charged with inappropriate behavior around kids and was then shown to have downloaded pornographic pictures of girls onto his computer laptop (revealed when he brought the laptop in for repairs). Finn reportedly resisted taking action on reports about Ratigan’s behavior, according to America, so that he might, as he allegedly told colleagues, “save Father Ratigan’s priesthood.” While the bishops seem to have a regime in place for dealing with future Ratigans, America suggests that the problem of punishing or removing a recalcitrant bishop like Finn “is left up to the offending bishop himself,” which basically means no punitive action. Although Finn has been convicted, the diocese has no plans for dismissing him and actually issued a statement that Finn looks forward to returning to his duties as a bishop.

On the torture charges, America describes the U.S. response as a Lady Macbeth-like “out, damned spot” turn, hoping that washing its hands of past behavior eliminates the need to take responsibility. The same applies to the Church for the sexual abuse charges or any nonprofit where children and families under its care have been misused and abused. Moving forward requires dealing with responsibility for the past, not sweeping it under the rug. And that means not just whacking the malefactors at lower levels of the organization—a parish priest in the Kansas City diocese, a soldier at a military detention center in Iraq or Afghanistan—but making sure that the higher-ups who should have taken responsibility actually do so. Churches, nonprofits, and the U.S. government cannot scrub out the stain of past ethical and sometimes criminal violations like Lady Macbeth flailing at imagined bloodstains.—Rick Cohen

  • JuneAnnette

    MEMO to Roman Catholics . . Your Children are NOT SAFE . . .
    As the old adage goes . . . “the more things change, the more they stay the same”! Don’t be taken in by the feigned words and false assurances given you by the so-called “princes of the church” that your children are NOW safe. Lying aka “mental reservation” is not a practice alien to the bishops! The truth is . . the safeguards they have put in place must not be confused with real and vital reform which has not taken place.
    The root problem of the clergy abuse SCANDAL as identified by the National Review Board,
    namely, “homosexual predation of Catholic youth” by RC clergy, has not been addressed. Consider the findings of the board’s chief, attorney Robert S. Bennett, who said: “any evaluation of the causes and context of the current crisis must be cognizant of the fact that more than 80 percent of the abuse at issue was of a homosexual nature.”
    Bear in mind that the National Review Board was convened under the auspices of the USCCB yet the hierarchy has failed to act upon this vital point. Why? Because they are the problem. In a 2001 survey the late Dean Hoge of the Catholic University of America, one of the “church’s” most respected researchers found that there clearly or probably was a homosexual subculture among priests. Rev. Donald Cozzens, author of the 2000 book “The Changing Face of the Priesthood,” estimates 50 percent of all Catholic priests are homosexual.
    Psychotherapist Richard Sipe, a former Catholic priest who has written and spoken widely on the priesthood, says 15 percent of homosexual priests are sexually active. If all homosexual clergy were to leave the U.S. Catholic Church now, the church would lose one-third of its bishops as well, added Mr. Sipe.
    It would follow then that until the present hierarchy, which is comprised in the main of homosexual priests and bishops, is dismantled the “homosexual predation of Catholic youth” will continue! Parents must exercise due diligence and act in the best interest of their children. Don’t imagine that the present hierarchy will voluntarily clean their own house of their homosexual priests and bishops. According to a news story in the New York Times (Sept. 15, 2005), Fr. Thomas Reese, S.J., the former Editor-in-chief of America, said that “with the shortage of priests, the church can hardly afford to dismiss gay seminarians.” Recently Bishop Robert Vasa. the current Bishop of the Santa Rosa, California Diocese . . .
    said he still believes “parents are the best line of defense against child sex abuse.” Can you really afford to wait until your child is sacrificed on the altar of priestly abuse? To bury your head in the sand like the proverbial ostrich and remain willfully ignorant of these matters is nothing short of reckless endangerment on the part of parents. Given the present sobering realities, parents are left with but one option . . LEAVE!
    I honestly believe just as the “church hierarchy” covered up the routine practice of transferring abusive priests from one diocese to another, most of “the faithful” are ignorant of the fact that the RC priesthood has been overrun by homosexuals. This too has been a secret well-guarded by the powers that be who felt that the laity just did not need to know. This should serve as a WAKE UP CALL to the laity that sit complacently in their pews and who continue to “Pay, Pray & Obey”! Time for parents to give their bishops a vote of no confidence and opt out of the unholy, irreformable false “church” of Rome!

  • Judy Jones

    It is our guess that all of the US bishops have been very closely watching this case against Bishop Finn. The KC diocese sex abuse cover up is not an isolated incident by any means. There could have been hundreds of bishops sitting in that same chair in that court room, and hopefully law enforcement will be more willing to investigate how church officials are really handling child sex abuse within their diocese.

    This guilty verdict sends a message that high ranking church officials are not above the law anymore. Even though Bishop Finn received no jail time, he is now deemed a criminal, he can not even pass the Catholic Conference of Bishops’ own “child protection back ground check”. and therefore he needs to be defrocked from the priesthood.

    This trial and verdict is only the beginning of getting this horrific abuse stopped. It is only the beginning of getting the enabling and empowering of child predators stopped within this archaic secretive institution. It is only the beginning of protecting kids today.

    Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director, USA, 636-433-2511.,
    (SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests,)

  • JuneAnnette

    “Over two-thirds of the U.S. bishops have knowingly covered sexual abusers and in so doing have directly caused the ruination of the souls and often the bodies of countless more victims. The almighty Vatican, for all its carefully tooled statements of concern has not called a single bishop to accountability. A few have resigned but so what? They have committed crimes with impunity. Why Because they are bishops and in the magical thinking of the papacy, bishops
    are above hard-ball justice. Some bishops have even been sexual abusers themselves. None have been defrocked. I have seen consistent, hard evidence of a radical disconnect between the mandate of Christ in the Gospel in reference to such matters, and the actual actions of the bishops and the popes. In short, the popes (JP2 and Benedict XVI) and the bishops have not acted as Christians but rather as agnostic, self-serving businessmen.”

    Source: Reflections from 25 Years of Experience At the Start of the New Year
    Thomas Doyle, J.C.D. / January 1, 2010

  • JuneAnnette

    The “hierarchy” of the unholy Roman Catholic “church” would have us believe that they have reformed and that their “church” is now a model for child protection. Yet the so-called child safety measures that have been implemented fail to address the root cause of clergy abuse, which emanates with the so-called “princes of the church” themselves. The truth is . . the RC “church” is no model for child protection but rather a template / model for child predation.
    That’s because aberrant sexual behaviour is the example the bishops themselves set for their priest understudies. They both sanction and practice sexual depravity themselves. They set the standard and the priests (who don’t know any better) think it is perfectly acceptable and normal to do likewise! Sexual perversion is thus the norm in RC hierarchy circles and so the abuse of children by RC clergy will continue unabated in the unholy Roman Catholic “church”!
    Former Roman Catholic priest Richard Sipe explains:
    “This sexual aberration is not generated from the bottom up – that is only from unsuitable candidates – but from the top down – that is from the sexual behaviors of superiors, even bishops and cardinals.
    Bishop Thomas Lyons, now deceased, who was an Auxiliary in the Archdiocese of Washington D.C. groomed, seduced, and sexually abused a boy from the time he was seven years old until he was 17. When that boy grew into manhood he in turn abused his own child and young relatives. When I asked him about his actions he said to me, “I thought it was natural. Father (Lyons) told me a priest showed him this when he was growing up.” A pattern was perpetuated for at least four generations.

    Citation: 1) Source / Website: / Priests, Celibacy, Sexuality & the Catholic Church
    Article Online: Open Letter of author Richard Sipe to Benedict XVI / Link:

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for covering this. The Catholic Church is, and has been for 2,000 years, a deeply hierarchical organization. The Catholic Church does not exist unless it is this way as it is the basic structure; intrinsic to it’s very nature. It is up to Rome to take action since a diocese cannot fire it’s bishop. Things do not move quickly in an organization that has so much red tape. It literally has it’s own book of laws.

    It will be very interesting to see what the bishop of bishops does… I don’t know how they will handle all this. The hierarchy is VERY protective of each other and often to a fault. How will they continue to exist in this manner? I don’t know. The Catholic Church only continues to grow worldwide.