Saturday, October 15, 2011

Thoughts On the Diocese of Kansas City St Joseph and Bishop Indictment

Well this was not a pleasant way to start a weekend The Anchoress has the links and overview ( including the Diocese of Kansas City St Joseph statement) at Bishop Finn Indicted, “Significant Charge”. That charge is failure to suspicion that one of the priests of that diocese was engaged in improper behavior towards children.

The National Catholic Register has a good report that is significant . See Bishop Finn Indicted by a Kansas City Grand Jury

The famous Father Z has some brief thoughts at About Bp. Finn in Kansas City – St. Joseph

None of this is good for the Church, and no matter if the Bishop is guilty or not it's a black eye. But some good has come out of this including that the Diocese of Kansas City St Joe and no doubt others have implemented further reforms to t how they handle these situation.

Something to be quite frank , as to the proper process, perhaps can't be done with having some serious missteps.

I was sort of shocked that so many people were shocked yesterday. This was not to be unexpected and the debate in the Diocese of Kansas City over Bishop Finn has been raging for some time with detractors and advocates on each side. This indictment because of the known civil proceeding which the Church has worked with should not come out of left field. Further the Church appears to have been open about what happen for some time.

The Diocese of Kansas City St Joseph established an Independent commission to look into this incident and also to give needed reforms. This is talked about in the Diocese of Kansas City St Joe statement here . The Graves reports ( also called the FIRM in the report) was an independent commission asked to come in by the Diocese too look into the situation. That report is linked here at "report". As you can tell that report was headed up by some pretty big heavy hitters and is extensive. Anyone that wishes to comment in a intelligent manner in this case need to read that report.

A few thoughts.
(1) The Graves Reports has been online since September 1st on the Diocesan web site. Yet I get the indication that some of the people most critical and ready to assume that Bishop Flynn is guilty in Catholic land have not even read it nor knew it was there.

(2) It should be noted that both the Bishop and the Diocese has been charged with a misdemeanor count of failure to report suspected child abuse. Of course one cannot put a Corporation in jail and you can a Bishop.

After reading this report , and taking for granted the facts here presented are those the Grand Jury heard, I am wondering why Bishop Finn alone or perhaps Bishop Finn at all was charged. There is lay and other clerical involvement here besides Finn. Again why him alone? In fact looking at the report one can honestly ask if it is Vicar General who in either carelessness or intention misled people at a critical point in all this.

(3) If you read the time line you can just feel the timing of certain events made this case perhaps go off established protocol. The Priest attempted suicide and near death almost right after the discovery seems to have been critical in all this. This of course led him going to the expert Doctor that was mentioned and in the Bishop appears in his folly to rely on.

(4). Its easy to see perhaps how the Grand Jury could meets it's standard to indict the Bishop here. However after reading the report it's not clear to me at all that the trial judge or jury is going to convict on the evidence . That is they may not be able to meet that standard of proof at least as to the Bishop him

(5) What happens to Bishop Finn now. That is going to be interesting and indeed critical. This is now new ground. None of the fact here are going to be a shock to those in the Diocese that have followed this matter in the press. Finn has been open since the beginning he messed up here. Though he denies criminal conduct.

He also has some advocates in the Diocese and yes many are impressed how he handled himself in this difficult time. So we shall see if he manages or if its desirable that he is in active administration of the Diocese while this charge is out there. There are considerations pro and con to consider.

(6) Pray for the Diocese and the Bishop

(7) While I am pained by what happened in the Diocese of Kansas City St Joseph and recognize it offers important lessons ,I REFUSE to have Catholic haters have it define the Catholic Faith or the Church as a whole.

This is a usual tactic by many. Of course we are all Catholics and all of us are connected , and all of the Churches ( Dioceses) are connected together through our communion with the Bishop of Rome.

However a Baptist or a Methodist is rarely told that their whole faith community is at fault if someone in some part of the Church somewhere messes up. Catholics for whatever reason are not treated like that.

In many ways this is a important matter for Catholics to pray for , observe , and to learn from. On the other hand my Diocese ( or church) is not the Diocese of St Kansas City St Joseph but in my case the Diocese of the Shreveport. My local church (Diocese of Shreveport) has nothing to do with this case nor my Bishop so why should my faith or "church" be defined by my critics as to this matter. It can't and I suggest other Catholics to take that attitude.

1 comment:

bill bannon said...

I believe he, Bishop Finn, will be convicted based on his own restriction of Ratigan away from children before May,2011. His action in this restriction means he knew there was suspicion of pedaphilia....which he only later reported after Ratigan broke the restrictions. Finn was obligated by law to report....not to solve it on his own with restrictions that didn't work.