Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Catholic Bishop, Robert F. Finn, Found Guilty of Shielding a Pedophile Priest, But the True Winner in the Case Is the Catholic Church

Last week, a Catholic bishop was finally found guilty for covering-up sexual abuse. Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City was found guilty of: 
failing to report a priest who had taken hundreds of pornographic pictures of young girls. The counts each carried a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $1,000 fine, but Bishop Finn was sentenced to two years of court-supervised probation. (New York Times)
It's about time that a criminal Catholic bishop was held accountable.  But in the long run, the Catholic Church won this case.

Win Number One.  The church's defense team avoided a long and drawn out, public trial by jury and its unrelenting media scrutiny.  NBCNews.com reports:
Lawyers for Finn and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph released the following statement after the verdict:  "Bishop Finn is grateful that the court and prosecutor have allowed this matter to be resolved. This could have been a lengthy and emotionally difficult trial for all persons affected. The bench trial, with a stipulation of testimony, has avoided the need for live testimony from diocesan employees, parishioners and others. This process has also resulted in the charges against the Diocese being dismissed by the state. The diocesan process and procedures as previously existed failed to adequately identify the necessity to inform the Children's Division of Shawn Ratigan's behavior in a more timely manner. For this, the bishop is truly sorry."
Who wants to hear witnesses rehashing the dirty deeds of the bishop and diocese?  Who wants the media  printing testimony that details the process of how abuse allegations are covered-up, ignored, and kept from civil authorities?  The church can thank its god that the details of this case will now quickly sink into the Google Sea.

Win Number Two.  As indicated in the previous statement, the charges against the Diocese of Kansas City were dismissed.  How wonderful for the church.

Win Number Three.  The judge let Finn off easily; he should have given Finn the maximum penalty of one year in jail.  Finn protected a Father Shawn Ratigan for five months after learning Ratigan had taken pornographic pictures of hundreds of girls.  Finn didn't report the crime, even though he knew of previous accusations made against Ratigan.  Would not one month of jail time for each month that Finn kept information from civil authorities be justified?  The pedophile priest's crimes went unreported until church officials contacted civil authorities without Finn's permission.  How the judge didn't see this as grounds for a maximum sentence will remain on the judge's conscience.

Win Number Four.  The Catholic theology of forgiveness, confession, and a fresh start is strengthened.  Finn can now retreat to the confessional and release the guilt he carries for his actions, if he harbors any.  His courtroom apology indicates that he might not:  
Before being sentenced, Bishop Finn, 59, his jaw quivering, rose in court and said: “I am pleased and grateful that the prosecution and the courts have allowed this matter to be completed. The protection of children is paramount.” 
He added, “I truly regret and am sorry for the hurt that these events have caused.” (NYT)
According to Catholic theology, contrition is necessary for forgiveness to be granted during the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Finn's "apology" is not sufficient for the sacrament, because Finn displayed no contrition for his part in the crime and resulting scandal.  Finn said he was sorry for the hurt caused by "these events," not, I'm sorry that I protected this pedophile from civil authorities and in doing so betrayed the children this priest abused, their families, the people I've sworn to shepherd, and the society in which I present myself as a law-abiding citizen.  No.  Bishop Finn took the easy way out.  

He admitted being "pleased and grateful" -- pleased that he's not going to jail and can get back to his phony, "paramount" "protection" of children.  For that is his immediate future, as The Washington Post reports:
But even as he became the first U.S. bishop ever convicted in criminal court for shielding an abusive priest, Finn’s standing inside the church appears uncertain, and the subject of intense debate.  Should he stay or should he go? Finn has indicated that he wants to tough it out.
“The Bishop looks forward to continuing to perform his duties, including carrying out the important obligations placed on him by the Court,” Finn’s spokesman, Jack Smith, said in a statement to Religion News Service on Friday.
Pope Benedict XVI is the only one with the authority to force a bishop from office, and the Vatican said nothing on Friday about Finn.
While waiting for the pope to act or commit yet another sin of omission, Catholics throughout the Diocese of Kansas City will continue to pray before the "Real Presence" of their savior Jesus Christ at every Mass in the Diocese of Kansas City, "for our bishop, Robert."  

In spite of the church's wins in the Finn case, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has once again shown that it's incapable of responsible leadership when confronting the institutionalized culture of covering-up sexual abuse.
The point man on the abuse crisis for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishop R. Daniel Conlon of Joliet, Ill., was circumspect about Finn’s conviction.  Conlon, who recently acknowledged that the hierarchy’s credibility on abuse was “shredded” in part because of cases like Finn’s, said that he did not know the details of the trial. (The Washington Post)
Bishop Conlon is the chair of the USCCB's Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People.  One would think he has a responsibility to be familiar with the details of the first case involving one of his brother bishops being tried for covering up sexual abuse.  For the Catholic bishops ignorance continues to be bliss, and ecclesiastical justice for the victims of sexual abuse is again cast into the sea.

Why Is Pat Robertson Still on TV?

It's time for the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) to follow EWTN's lead and "fire" one of its long-standing television personalities, who has lost his grip on reality.

Pat Robertson once again shows that he has no compassion for women and non-Christians.  He also displays his lack of respect for the institution of marriage, by condoning domestic violence.  His words are reprehensible.

In the video below, a viewer asks Robinson for advice on dealing with his wife, who "has become a real problem" and has "no respect" for him "as the head of the house."  Robinson's response is for her to move to Saudi Arabia so he can beat his wife.

Here's the video: