The subject of today’s post is my favorite dartboard figure, Kansas City-St. Joseph Bishop Robert Finn.
To get into it, I’m going to borrow the template of local sports commentator and blogger Greg Hall, who has made a name for himself locally with his “Off the Couch” columns.
Greg’s schtick is quoting what somebody says and following it with his own observations. As fuel for my bonfire, I’m going to use Sunday’s lead story in The Kansas City Star, which appeared under this headline: “How Will KC Diocese Heal?”
The story was written by Judy Thomas, Mark Morris and Glenn E. Rice, all of whom have covered aspects of the child-porn case of Rev. Shawn Ratigan, a priest who is charged with felonies for allegedly taking and distributing lewd photos of young girls.
On Friday, Finn and the Kansas City diocese were indicted on misdemeanor charges related to his and the diocese’s failure to report, for five months, reasonable suspicions of child abuse. If convicted, Finn could be sentenced to up to a year in jail and fined up to $1,000.
So, here we go with a special edition of JimmyCsays. (All introductory quotes were taken directly from people whom the reporters interviewed.)
Jim Dougherty, a member of St. Louis Parish on Swope Parkway: “I think he has taken action. I don’t know more of what he can do…I believe that Bishop Finn demonstrated integrity and Christ-like virtue in repeatedly admitting his failure and undertaking significant change throughout the diocese.”
JimmyC: What more could Finn have done? Uh, how about getting his head out of the sex-abuse sand and vowing, when he became bishop six years ago, that he would not tolerate it in his diocese? As for “undertaking significant change,” yes, he definitely has done that. Unfortunately, it has involved railing against abortion and drawing a sharp, horizontal line between the clergy (the top layer of Finn’s cake) and the laity (the lowest layer).
(P.S. I’m pretty sure that Dougherty is former director of DeLaSalle Education Center.)
Jason Berry, author of “Render Unto Rome: The Secret Life of Money in the Catholic Church: “His credibility is shot. But I would be very surprised if Finn is withdrawn. The pattern is they dig in their heels and stand by their man.”
JimmyC: Tammy Wynette couldn’t have said it better. The International Business Times quoted a Vatican spokesman as saying Sunday that Pope Benedict XVI and the Vatican would not attempt to interfere with the legal process. “We have no intention of intervening in that procedure,” Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said. “Any intervention could be interpreted as interference.” Yes, the Vatican would hate to involve itself in a case that affects the most vulnerable of God’s children.
Becky Summers, diocesan spokeswoman: “(Finn) continues to perform his pastoral duties with energy, dedication and enthusiasm…As part of his pastoral duties, he meets with priests every day. And, I would imagine that he will be discussing (the criminal allegations) with them.”
JimmyC: And here’s how one of those conversations might go…Priest: “Say, bishop, what’s up with that criminal charge against you?” Bishop Finn: “It’s a bunch of bullshit, Father. I’m continuing to perform my pastoral duties with energy, dedication and enthusiasm. Now, get back to preaching against abortion.”
Pat O’Neill, public relations consultant and a member of Visitation Parish: “My guess is that (diocesan) fundraising is in limbo and will remain that way until there’s some resolution in the criminal case, and some definitive determination of what happens to Bishop Finn.”
JimmyC: Do you hear that thunderous, clapping sound? It’s Catholic wallets slamming shut.
Jim Caccamo, chairman of the diocese’s Independent Review Board: “Most of our priests are honorable, trustworthy, loving, committed me who have served the church and the parishioners for years. It has got to make them feel terribly sad.”
JimmyC: Many of them undoubtedly do feel that way, and most in that group probably are liberal priests whom Finn has relegated, for the most part, to small and remote parishes.
Carolyn Cook, a Kansas City Catholic: “Moving him somewhere else won’t help. He needs to be taken from the church. He’s an educated person and can go teach.”