Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A message from S.M.A.R.T. Newsletter founder Neil Brick: edited

Neil Brick is the founder of the S.M.A.R.T. newsletter which discusses issues involving ritual abuse, mind control and organized child abuse. S.M.A.R.T. has also organized annual conferences every year since 1998. This year's conference will be held on August 9-11 in Connecticut. Survivorship is a related organization that is also holding a conference on ritual abuse and mind control. This year's conference will be at the Executive Inn in Oakland, CA on May 4-5. Anyone who is in the local area and wants to educate themselves about said topics in an environment that is respectful and supportive for survivors should consider attending.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Catholic League president Bill Donohue defends convicted child molester: part 2

Bill Donohue also writes for Opus Bono Sacerdotii, an organization that was founded for the purpose of providing legal, financial and moral support to priests accused of sexual crimes including child molestation. It says a lot that even other conservative Catholics get embarrassed when Donohue starts talking. The original title of this post is "Memo to Bill Donohue: Please Stop Helping Now", and it includes a link to the Catholic League website which published the excerpt that follows.

via Patheos:

Shoutin’ Bill offers a text book lesson in how not to defend the Faith:

The Times says that Finn’s conviction of a misdemeanor “stemmed from his failure to report the Rev. Shawn Ratigan to the authorities after hundreds of pornographic pictures that Father Ratigan had taken of young girls were discovered on his laptop in December 2010.”

That statement is factually wrong. On October 15, 2011 the Times mentioned there was “a single photo of a young girl, nude from the waist down,” and “hundreds of photographs of children” showing “upskirt images and images focused on the crotch.” Now anyone who takes such pictures is clearly disturbed. But it also needs to be said that crotch shots are not pornographic.

Ave Maria's Pass for Pederast Priests*

via Bishop Accountability:

According to Ave Maria University's website, the AMU Founder's Club hosted a visit from the President of "Opus Bono Sacerdotii" (OBS), Joseph Maher, one year ago this past Friday (December 19). IRS records show that the self-described exempt purpose of OBS is to offer "outplacement services for Roman Catholic priests and religious men and women for the purpose of providing a transition from one position to another". The University's Founders Club, which was established by Tom Monaghan (NY Times, 2/10/2003), advertised that the purpose of OBS was "to find solutions to sensitive situations confronting priests and religious in accordance with the authentic teaching of the Church."

"Outplacement services" for "sensitive situations"?

Translation: OBS helps to quietly shuffle around pederast priests.

According to the OBS website, Joseph Maher helped start the organization in Detroit in 2002 after "he received much public attention for his staunch support of a priest from his parish who was accused of rape. Today, over 2,000 priests have contacted Opus Bono Sacerdotii for assistance, with more calling on a weekly basis."...OBS and its Ave Maria supporters might claim that the mission of the organization is to support accused innocent priests who are defending wrongful allegations. But according to their website, OBS cares nothing about whether their clients are innocent or guilty (excerpt):

"In cases where legal procedures in civil, criminal or canon law are required: A client's innocence or guilt is not a determining factor in obtaining assistance from OBS"

From the Washington Post, Oct 13, 2002:

"In Detroit, Maher said he does not attempt to determine whether a priest is innocent or guilty before providing financial help from Opus Bono Sacerdotii. The group, which he said has raised $100,000 and applied to the Internal Revenue Service for charitable status, is assisting the Rev. Robert Burkholder, who returned to Michigan from retirement in Hawaii this month to face charges of molesting a 13-year-old boy in 1986."

"In an interview published by the Detroit News in August, Burkholder, 82, admitted that he had had sexual encounters with "maybe a dozen or two" boys between the ages of 11 and 14. , but contended that they were consensual. "It takes two to tango," he said. "Some of the accusations are true, but so what? I was a priest — a good priest — who had a weakness."

Burkholder, who was labeled Michigan's worst pedophile priest by Wayne County Prosecutor Michael Duggan, was sentenced to jail after pleading no contest to two second-degree criminal sexual conduct charges. As far back as 1993, it was known that Burkholder was a menace; that year, his priestly duties were constrained by his diocese as he admitted, in writing, to molesting at least 23 boys. None of that - not even Burkholder's unrepentant "two to tango" or "so what" - mattered to OBS. In another pederast crusade adopted by OBS, Maher sent 3,000 fund raising letters to support a jailed priest who was accused of 13 sex crimes on 6 boys. South Bend Tribune, Oct. 28, 2005, excerpt:

"I think it's outrageous what [OBS is] doing," [Bishop] D'Arcy said. "We never gave them any [diocesan mailing] list. They're unauthorized to do this and it's wrong. … I don't know anything about (Maher) and he doesn't know anything about this case. He's out of order writing to our people."
One recipient is a local man scheduled to testify at the trial that LeBrun fondled him in the early 1980s.
"I was extremely offended to receive this thing, and to try to solicit support from victims?" the local man said. "How low."

In January 2006, the priest that Maher so vigorously helped was sentenced to 111 years in prison. OBS is connected to Tom Monaghan far beyond Joseph Maher's invitation to speak at the Ave Maria University Founder's Club. Maher and OBS co-founder Paul Barron are both members of Legatus, Tom Monaghan's club for rich Catholic businessmen. OBS and Ave Maria also pick from the same talent pool. Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, a Catholic power broker who sits on AMU's Board and often defends Monaghan's questionable educational practices, serves on the OBS Advisory panel. OBS quotes Neuhaus:

"More power to you [OBS]! It is important that we counter this vicious notion that an injustice or alleged injustice of years ago can be righted by a new injustice now. The demand that a person "must be punished," no matter how long ago the offense or the repentance and transformation of the offender, is nothing more than a demand for vengeance, which, as the Scriptures remind us, is not rightly ours. Do let me know how your project progresses.

Cordially, (The Rev.) Richard John Neuhaus"

Another OBS Advisor was the prominent canon lawyer Fr. Gregory Ingels. In 2002, he helped craft the "zero tolerance" policy on sex abuse adopted by American Catholics. The following year, in 2003, he was charged for a 1972 incident of sodomy and "substantial sexual conduct" with a boy. In the criminal complaint, Ingels acknowledged having had sex with the boy and could be heard on tape saying, "What I did to you was terrible."
This was not a singular moment of weakness or indiscretion on Ingels' part. In the summer of 2003, a second case against Ingels was assembled by the local district attorney. A former female student of Fr. Ingels, Jane Parkhurst, alleged that the priest began to "cultivate" her at age 15, taking advantage of a troubled home life that started after her parents died in a car accident. She told authorities that Ingels had sexually abused her for four years starting in 1973....Even after all this, OBS President Joseph Maher was quoted as saying that his organization was "grateful to have him [Ingels]" (San Francisco Weekly; 7/13/2005):

"He's an excellent priest, a very holy man, and he's a great help to us."

*I am going to go out on a limb here and say that the issue of sexual relationships between adults and teens can be a complex subject, considering that the relationship between a willing 17-year-old and her 21-year-old boyfriend is legally considered to be the same as that between a reluctant 15-year-old and a coercive 45-year-old. In my opinion this lack of distinction is a failure of the legal system and Opus Bono is taking advantage of moral ambiguity perpetuated by the courts. It should suffice to say that no one who has sexually assaulted an 11-year-old should be quietly protected from scandal and allowed to retain a job position requiring enormous trust from their greater community. Also, another issue to keep in mind is that there are important biological reasons for age of consent laws, such as the fact that teenage girls who become pregnant before the age of 17 are much more likely to endure serious health complications. By adopting a blanket policy of offering moral and financial support to any priest accused of sexual crimes, guilty or innocent, Opus Bono has effectively sent the message that sexual assault and child molestation are great ways for troubled priests to receive support and attention. Not only is this policy an attempt to evade criminal prosecution, it also endangers the safety and well-being of local church communities.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Catholic Right is run as a cryptocracy

via talk2action:

Bishop Robert Finn has many powerful friends on the Catholic Right. As a hard charging leader of what he has called "the church militant" and one of four American Opus Dei bishops, Finn is clearly one of their own. Nevertheless, it is extraordinary that his allies have chosen to side with an element in the institutional church obsessed with unquestioned authority and against Catholic children and their families. While Bill Donohue of the Catholic League is ubiquitous, he is not the only one rallying to defend Finn's handling of alleged child abuser Fr. Shawn Ratigan. It is time to throw open the shutters and allow some daylight into the shadows and dark corners of Catholic neoconservatism.

The Catholic League

While Bill Donohue and the Catholic League need no introduction, it is worth a quick review of their key members and advisers who share responsibility for the League's support for Finn.

Among the League's Board of Directors is Raymond Arroyo of Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) who is reputed to be either an Opus Dei member or cooperator (but who in any case has certainly vigorously defended the controversial group). Also on the board is Candace de Russy, an Adjunct Fellow at the Hudson Institute, a neocon think tank that features Lewis "Scooter" Libby (of Valerie Plame fame) as a Senior Vice President. The League's Board of Advisers is populated by such leading neocons as Hadley Arkes, Mary Ann Glendon, Robert P. George, Michael Novak and George Weigel, who has sanitized past Vatican failures regarding pedophile clergy and recently declared his scorn for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP).

Thomas Monaghan

Another Catholic League adviser is Domino's Pizza magnate Tom Monaghan, who in many ways is the key to Donohue's activities in Kansas City-St. Joseph. Monaghan has, over the years, advanced the twin agendas of laissez-faire economics and ultra-orthodox Catholicism with money and political muscle. He has helped to fund Operation Rescue and Fr. Frank Pavone's Priests for Life as well as Legatus, the ultra-conservative millionaires-only club he founded. And according to Forbes, he has reportedly done the same for Opus Dei. Monaghan is also involved with another Finn defender, Opus Bono Sacerdotii.

Opus Bono Sacerdotii

The Kansas City Star recently reported that the Fr. Ratigan, the alleged pedophile priest, had received a psychiatric evaluation at Bishop Finn's behest. But there are questions about the psychiatrist's impartiality as well as his diagnosis. The Star pointed out:

Richard Fitzgibbons, who examined Ratigan in January after disturbing photographs of children were found on the priest's computer, is an adviser to Opus Bono Sacerdotii, according to the group's website. The nonprofit organization provides services to accused and imprisoned priests, including financial, legal and emotional support.

After his evaluation, Fitzgibbons told Finn that Ratigan was not a pedophile and that his pornography problem was a result of loneliness and depression, according to a report commissioned by the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese.

(Note that Fitzgibbons's diagnosis was "loneliness and depression" not pedophilia.)

Opus Bono Sacerdotii (OBS) describes, its mission:
Opus Bono Sacerdotii (Work for the Good of the Priesthood) was founded in response to many sensitive situations with priests requesting confidential assistance for unique problems. These situations may encompass a whole spectrum of circumstances, however, the success in caring for Catholic priests is understanding the uniqueness of each individual and their particular needs, abilities and desires especially as it effects the extraordinary relationship between the natural and supernatural aspect of the person of the priest.

BishopAccountability.org describes OBS co-founders Joseph Maher and Paul Barron as "members of Legatus." This is not unusual. Based in Monaghan's hometown of Detroit, Michigan, many of the key members of Legatus are also affiliated with the Monahan-founded or funded organizations, notably the ultra orthodox Ave Maria University ("AMU"), in Naples, Florida. These include such Catholic Right luminaries as the late neocon activist Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, Fr. Thomas G. Guarino, and Fr. Michael Orsi. A stern-looking Donohue is pictured on the OBS homepage next to a link to his piece, "Straight Talk about the Catholic Church and SNAP Exposed." Fr. Orsi's past pronouncements about victims of priestly pedophilia have been controversial. For example, as a December 22, 2008 post at BishopAccountability.org noted:
Orsi's defense of sexually dysfunctional priests is rich with clericalism. This conclusion was highlighted in the book "Sacrilege: Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church". Leon Podles, a former federal investigator, is the book's author and, interestingly, a former supporter of AMU. In the chapter "Clerical Accomplices", Dr. Podles describes the pass that Orsi gives to guilty homosexual/pederast/pedophile priests as reflective of a time "in which members of society had unequal status before the law. Such inequality is always irritating, and is often used to protect privileged malefactors - and Orsi resents the loss of privilege."

Orsi uses his Ave Maria Chaplaincy to promote and defend OBS thanks to his two bosses, Ave Maria School of Law Chairman Tom Monaghan and President-Dean Bernard Dobranski. For all of the rants about liberal immorality, attacks on the family, and the "culture wars" penned by Monaghan and Dobranski in their fundraising letters, you'll never hear about the wink-and-nod given to Orsi or OBS in keeping pederasts at the altar.

That these Catholic Right leaders seem to want to save Finn's position as bishop at almost any cost, suggests that their goals for the Church as a bastion of religious and political authoritarianism, takes precedence over everything else -- including the safety and well being of children.

Also related, via Slate, is this article about how the Catholic Church manages to avoid financial disclosure rules that secular organizations are bound to. This information is crucial in understanding how groups such as Opus Bono Sacerdotii have at times been able to utilize the Church's wealth and bureaucratic exemptions to circumvent civil law, a privilege that is obviously unavailable to the rest of the world, despite the group's attempt to portray priests accused of pedophilia as a persecuted minority.

How Rich Is the Catholic Church?

Pope Francis is not just the spiritual leader of one of the world’s major religions: He’s also the head of what’s probably the wealthiest institution in the entire world. The Catholic Church’s global spending matches the annual revenues of the planet’s largest firms, and its assets—huge amounts of real estate, St. Patrick's Cathedral, Vatican City, some of the world’s greatest art—surely exceed those of any corporation by an order of magnitude. But it turns out to be surprisingly difficult to understand exactly how rich the church is. That’s in part because church finances are complicated. But it’s also because, in the United States at least, churches in general are exempted from the financial reporting and disclosure requirements that otherwise apply to nonprofit groups. And it turns out, that exemption may have undesirable consequences.

The main thing we know about Catholic Church finance is that in cash flow terms, the United States is by far the most important branch. America is a rich country with a large population of Catholics. What’s more, America’s Catholic population is a religious minority. That’s meant that, rather than using political clout to influence the shape of mainstream government institutions, as in an overwhelmingly Catholic country such as Brazil, the Catholic Church in the United States has created a parallel state: a vast web of schools, hospitals, universities, and charities that serve millions of clients.

Our best window into the overall financial picture of American Catholicism comes from a 2012 investigation by the Economist, which offered a rough-and-ready estimate of $170 billion in annual spending, of which almost $150 billion is associated with church-affiliated hospitals and institutions of higher education. The operating budget for ordinary parishes, at around $11 billion a year, is a relatively small share, and Catholic Charities is a smaller share still. Apple and General Motors, by way of comparison, each had revenue of about $150 billion worldwide in Fiscal Year 2012. Legally speaking, there is no such thing as “the Catholic Church,” which is why these finances get so complicated. As far as the law is concerned, each diocese is a separate legal entity, incorporated in the states where it operates. Generally speaking, they are organized as what’s known as a corporation sole—a legal corporation wholly controlled by the individual bishop rather than a board of directors—and not officially part of any larger transnational spiritual organization. This has led to conflicts during the sex abuse scandals. Lawsuits have caused disputes about how deep the church’s pockets go and who should pay.

On several occasions, abuse-related litigation has inspired dioceses to declare bankruptcy, which offers a rare window into the internal financial organization of the institution. Individual parishes, though operating under the umbrella of the relevant bishop, have a fair degree of financial autonomy. They conduct separate fundraising and maintain separate expenses. That way, parish donors can feel they’re bolstering their particular community and not an impersonal bureaucracy. But it’s common for parish investment funds within a single diocese to be pooled. When a diocese declares bankruptcy, this raises the question of whether pooled parish investment funds are available to be seized by the bishop’s creditors or whether they exist separately.

As a fascinating article in this month’s American Bankruptcy Institute Journal explains, the status of parish investment funds depends on some very subtle details. Both the Diocese of Milwaukee and the Diocese of Wilmington ran pooled investment funds in which a single account simply noted how much each parish had contributed. The difference is that in Wilmington, Del., operating funds were also mingled into the pooled account, whereas in Milwaukee they were kept separate. That small difference ended up costing Wilmington parishes $74 million in exposure to Episcopal creditors. At the same time, as a matter of Canon Law individual parishes can be wholly “suppressed,” merged into other parishes, or otherwise divided up, essentially at the discretion of the bishop—notwithstanding the existence of separate bank accounts. This authority suggests that the diocese does indeed wholly own and control its parishes, but church officials take advantage of the ambiguity, sometimes claiming to fully control its parishes, sometimes—for legal reasons—arguing that the parishes are wholly independent entities.

Given America’s diverse religious landscape, the Catholic Church is hardly unique in taking advantage of the First Amendment to engage in some opaque accounting. It’s simply the largest player in this game. Lawrence Wright’s recent Scientology exposé, Going Clear, reveals egregious exploitation of religious privileges for the personal financial benefit of church leaders. Or consider the case of the Tennessee pastor arrested on money laundering and drug charges only because a local TV news investigation revealed that he was using donations to pay off what amounted to personal debts.

The legal framework that allows for this funny business has been constructed in the name of religious freedom but hardly seems required by that important principle. America has a robust ecology of secular nonprofit groups that manage to abide by fairly stringent accounting and disclosure standards. These help donors know where their money is going and reassure residual claimants that there’s some consistent theory of whose assets are whose. Religion is big business—the Catholic Church the biggest of all—and it deserves to be treated as such in the relevant ways.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Catholic League president Bill Donohue protected convicted child molester Rev. Shawn Ratigan

It probably doesn't hurt to mention that Bill Donohue has served as a spokesman for Opus Dei. Additionally, the Catholic League was founded by Jesuit priest Virgil Bloom, and its logo is bisected by a sword, just the same as the Jesuit logo is. The convicted child molester discussed in this case has also been defended by another Opus Dei spokesperson, Catholic priest John Zuhlsdorf. But I'm sure that's all a rather large coincidence and secretive Catholic fraternal orders have nothing whatsoever to do with the organized cover-up of child abuse. FYI, this article contains some extremely disturbing details about child sexual abuse that might be upsetting for sensitive readers.

via Counseling in Chicago:

Examining the religious right wing activism defending Catholic clergy sex abusers and the response of the church, it’s pretty easy to understand why Joe Paterno didn’t do anything to protect the children being raped by Jerry Sandusky. He’s Joe Paterno and probably feels entitled to do whatever he wants, just like Bill Donohue, Bishop Finn of Kansas City, the Catholic Pope, and the entire Catholic church hierarchy. Bill Donohue, Executive Director of Catholic League Center for Religious and Civil Rights, wrote a post on November 11, 2011 attacking a Kansas City Newspaper for spreading lies about Rev. Shawn Ratigan, a Catholic priest in Kansas City indicted for possession of child pornography.

The indictment of Rev. Shawn Ratigan referenced in the Kansas City newspaper, states:
U.S. Attorney Beth Phillips said Tuesday that a federal grand jury indicted Rev. Shawn Ratigan on 13 counts, including six counts of producing child pornography. According to the indictment, Ratigan sexually exploited five victims, ranging from age 2 to 12, over a six year period of time.

Ratigan’s case, and Donohue’s defense of him shows how the Catholic church routinely hides behind others to hide their abject and almost total disregard for the safety and protection of children from Catholic clergy sex predators.
The evidence supporting Ratigan indictment are substantial. Here is a summary:

In May of 2010, a letter from St. Patrick’s grade school filed a formal letter of complaint about inappropriate behavior by Ratigan, lack of boundaries, and an incident observed by parents and teachers where he directed a fourth grade girl to sit on his lap and lean her back against him for at least 5 minutes until parents went up to him and alerted him he was being watched.

This letter further expressed the very serious concern that Ratigan had upset many teachers and parents by his behavior who believed he had many of the characteristics of a pedophile.

Read the entire letter here.

On December 16, 2010, Ratigan took his personal laptop to a computer technician for repair.

The computer technician found several graphic images of girls under the age of 12 with the focus of the picture on their vaginas.

The technician reported the images to the Kansas City diocese where Ratigan was assigned.

On December 17, 2010, Ratigan attempted suicide and was hospitalized

The Kansas City diocese made a copy of the graphic images on Ratigan’s laptop, then gave the laptop to Ratigan’s family.

Ratigan’s family destroyed the computer.

Then, five months later, law enforcement authorities were notified about Ratigan’s possession of child pornography.

May 13, 2011, the disk containing the graphic images of children was given to the police.

May 19, 2011, Ratigan was arrested for possession of child pornography.
The police probable cause form states that Ratigan possessed a CD with 14 different images of child pornography of a 3-4 year old female identified as “SN.”

Police investigated Ratigan’s church desktop and found many of the same and additional graphic images of children. Many of the minor females were identified and were being interviewed.

October 14, 2011, the Kansas City Star reported that Bishop Finn and the diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph were being indicted on the misdemeanor charge of failure to report child abuse.

Please read the Star’s reporting of this charge:
“(Bishop) Finn and the diocese had reasonable cause to believe that Ratigan may have abused a child but did not report it to authorities between Dec. 16, 2010, and May 11, 2011, the indictment alleged. Evidence of that concern, the indictment said, was previous suspicions about Ratigan’s behavior around children and the discovery in December 2010 of hundreds of photos of children on Ratigan’s laptop.

Those photos included images of a child’s naked vagina and upskirt pictures focusing on the child’s crotch.

Finn and the diocese also must have had concerns about Ratigan’s conduct because they had restricted him from being around children after the laptop images were discovered, according to the charges.

A diocesan official reported Ratigan to police on May 11.”

The prosecutor’s in this case indicted Bishop Finn and the catholic diocese after several months of reviewing the evidence, including the school principal’s formal complaint from May 2010 and Ratigan’s explicit images of children.

While this seems like a lot of evidence, Bill Donohue has been leading the defense of Ratigan, Finn, and the catholic diocese with this false and distorted post which I include in it’s entirety:
“The Star continued with its lies against the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph with a column by Barbara Shelly. Regarding the behavior of Fr. Shawn Ratigan, she writes of “hundreds of explicit images of children” found on the priest’s laptop last year. What she didn’t say is that none of the photos were pornographic. And while a police officer and an attorney were called immediately (the pictures were disturbing), no formal complaint with the authorities was made. That’s because no one calls the police about something that is not criminal. The Kansas City Star disturbs me. Should I call 911?

Shelly then says, “Not until five months later, when more disturbing images turned up, did officials alert the police.” Wrong again: no new photos triggered anything. What happened is that the cops were called even though there was no complainant and no crime had been committed; they were called because Ratigan violated an internal diocesan stricture limiting his movement. Had the Diocese acted like other institutions, no one would even know about this issue (it would have been handled internally the way the Star handles matters that are unethical, but not criminal).

Shelly is also wrong to say that this case involves child abuse: no, it involves the possibility that someone may have been abused. If Shelly were right, she would be able to identify the victim. She can’t. Shelly is also wrong to make reference to Ratigan as a pedophile. In fact, he was officially diagnosed as suffering from depression, and was explicitly deemed not to be a pedophile. Moreover, most of the acts committed by miscreant priests were homosexual in nature, so once again Shelly fails to tell the truth. The lies just keep on coming, and we will correct every one of them.

Bill Donohue doesn’t just try to “spin” the story in a more positive light. He changes the facts to fit his argument
that Ratigan, Finn, the diocese, and catholics in general are getting a bad deal. I have highlighted claims he makes above which are completely false. When Donohue calls the Star and Shelly liars, he is using a common defense of bully narcissists…projection. Blame others for what you are doing yourself.
Donohue is using the strategy of most narcissists who want everyone to see the world their way
....The world will never see the end to the sexual abuse of children. We can only hope for more responsible adults to take action immediately to intervene and protect children who may be at risk or already being abused as in the Penn State and Kansas City cases so sadly illustrate.

Opus Dei Bishop charged with failure to report child pornography

via The Daily Kos:

Father Shawn Ratigan of the diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, led by Bishop Robert Finn, has pleaded guilty in Federal Court to four counts of producing child pornography and one count of attempted production of child pornography. Both Ratigan's and Bishop Finn's defenses (Finn is charged with failing to report it) had become a rallying point for some in the Catholic Right, particularly those having intersecting activity in Opus Dei, the Bill Donohue-led Catholic League and neoconservatism. They further used the incident to try to destroy the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP). But now that Ratigan has confessed to his pedophilia-related crimes -- what do these reactionaries who imagine themselves as defenders of the faith have to say for themselves?

The trial date for Bishop Finn has been set for September 24, 2012. As I reported here and here, Bishop Finn, previously best known for his Opus Dei vision for the Church and society, had constructive knowledge of improper touching of young girls and possession of child pornography by Ratigan. Ratigan's defense was eventually taken over by Opus Bono Sacerdotii (OBS), a Michigan-based organization funded by Domino's Pizza chain founder Tom Monaghan. OBS sees its mission as defending priests from allegations of sexual abuse. OBS had Ratigan examined by a staff psychiatrist who determined that Ratigan was not a pedophile but suffering from "loneliness and depression."

That questionable diagnosis has been superceded by Ratigan's August 2, 2012 confession and guilty pleas in Federal Court.
As The Kansas City Star reported:
Thursday afternoon, the Rev. Shawn Ratigan stood in the very public forum of a federal courtroom and confessed to some of his own.

Ratigan, 46, pleaded guilty to using five girls to produce or attempt to produce child pornography over several years while serving as pastor to congregations in the Northland and St. Joseph.

As well as:
Each count carries a maximum sentence of up to 30 years in federal prison.

"When a defendant who wears a religious collar, who has the trust of the community, engages in conduct of this nature, his crimes are more devastating and more reprehensible," said David M. Ketchmark, acting U.S. attorney for the Western District of Missouri. "With today's guilty pleas ... there's an assurance that he will face stiff mandatory penalties and that he won't have an opportunity to harm another child."

Ketchmark said prosecutors will recommend what he termed "a virtual life sentence."

This brings us back to Bill Donohue of the Catholic League who has distinguished himself by attacking Ratigan's victims; the The Kansas City Star for covering the crimes and the cover-up; and SNAP and their attorneys for advocating for the victims. Earlier in the year he staged a number of events in Kansas City at which he denounced anyone who dared to question Bishop Finn's actions in the matter. So far, the response of Donahue, and (as far as I know) the other reactionaries mentioned above, has been absolute silence. A quick view of the Catholic League's web page containing the organization's most recent press releases has nary a cyber peep about Kansas City, including one statement on child abuse. What then do we hear in the silence of the Church and its archest defenders? For at least this Catholic it confirms my initial belief that the actions of Donohue, his organization, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, and all those who coalesced around Bishop Finn, that their actions on Kansas City had nothing to do with the well-being of everyday Catholics and everything to do with keeping the hierarchy free from accountability.

Bishop Finn has many powerful friends on the Catholic Right. As a hard charging leader of what he has called "the church militant" and one of four American Opus Dei bishops, Finn is clearly one of their own. The fact that these activists want to save Finn's position as bishop at almost any cost, suggests that their goals for the Church as a bastion of religious and political authoritarianism takes precedence over everything else -- including the safety and well being of children. Silence might be a legitimate legal consideration for some in light of Finn's pending trial. But it soon will be time for Donohue and his cohorts to announce their penance. They could begin by apologizing to Ratigan's victims; explaining how they could have been so wrong; telling us how they intend to mend their ways; and making some kind of restitution not only to the victims of children in the care of the Church, but to all those whom they have subjected to calumny.