Sunday, September 9, 2012

"Bill Donohue stands by his man" by Grant Gallicho in Commonweal

"It has never seemed the best hill to die on, but apparently Catholic League president Bill Donohue doesn’t know how to quit defending Bishop Robert Finn [1], who was found guilty this week [2] of one misdemeanor count of failing to report suspected child abuse. (Be sure to read David Gibson’s post [3] on the devastating Times story.) Back in November, Donohue declared [4] that Finn was “an innocent man,” and flew all the way to Kansas City just to show how much he meant it. “In an ideal world,” Donohue claimed, “there would have been no charges whatsoever: there was no complainant and no violation of law.” Yes, and in an ideal world, when a U.S. bishop learns — nearly a decade after the 2002 wave of scandals broke — that one of his priests has crotch shots of kids on his computer, after having learned about a detailed letter of complaint about the guy from a Catholic school principal, the bishop would report the priest to the proper authorities, in accordance with civil and canon law. But that’s not the world Bishop Finn was living in. So now he stands convicted of failing to report suspected child abuse. In other words, Finn is not an innocent man. That’s why he issued a statement — both through his lawyer [5] (.doc) and on his own behalf [6] (.doc) — that contains apologetic-sounding words arranged in a way that avoids actually accepting responsibility for his failure to report the pornographer priest Ratigan. (Do yourself a favor and read Mark Silk on that and more here [7].)
You’d think Finn’s conviction would be enough to force Donohue back from the ledge, or at least show a measure of contrition. But no. He’s going all the way over. In his latest pronouncement [8], magisterially titled “Assessing Bishop Finn’s Guilt,” Donohue purports to bust some myths about the Finn case. Instead, he perpetrates some myth-making of his own..."
..."But what is he thinking when he calls the “condemnations targeting Finn…as unfair as they are contrived”? The man is guilty of not reporting suspected child abuse. He was informed of Ratigan’s disturbing photos of children (children, not teenagers) on December 16, 2010. There is nothing contrived or unfair about condemning his failure to respond adequately to the threat posed by Ratigan. He chose not to forward the case to his own sexual-abuse review board, and to take as gospel the evaluation of one psychiatrist even though his closest advisers were urging him to send Ratigan to another shrink. And when Finn learned Ratigan was not abiding even the light restrictions the bishop had placed on him, what did he do? He gave him a stern talking-to. What would have happened if Msgr. Murphy hadn’t made the decision to tell Capt. Smith the whole truth? We know what Ratigan did in the meantime. He kept looking at God-knows-what online. He heard kids’ confessions. He had parties for kids and their parents, where he apparently continued his work as an amateur pornographer. Because the bishop failed.
Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised that a man who responds to perceived anti-Catholic humor with ethnic slurs, or whose initial response to news that a friend was charged with sexual harassment is to joke about the accuser as “a drunken girl,” or who has publicly wondered what’s wrong with teenagers who “allow themselves to be molested,” wouldn’t be able to discern the seriousness of Finn’s failures. Still, the fact that the president of the Catholic League does not grasp the gravity of these matters remains as mysterious to me as the support he receives from several bishops."


Anonymous said...

So were Bridget Mary in this situation, she would let a suicidal priest kill himself? Talk about the love of Christ.

Veritwas said...

But since she's not a priest, my question is as pertinent as customary.