Priests Lost Confidence in Their Bishop

Click here to read: “Missouri Bishop’s Conviction Leaves Clergy Divided,” by John Eligon and Laurie Goodstein, The New York Times, December 2, 2012

Excerpt: “In the three months since Bishop Robert W. Finn became the first American prelate convicted of failing to report a pedophile priest, lay people and victims’ advocates have repeatedly called for his resignation. Now, recent interviews and a private survey by a company working for the Roman Catholic diocese here show for the first time that a significant number of the bishop’s own priests have lost confidence in him.”

Editor’s Note: Seems like hopeful news for common sense until one reads the following, “But the bishop also has a strong base of supporters who contend that the critical priests do not appreciate Bishop Finn’s doctrinally conservative approach. He belongs to Opus Dei, a conservative Roman Catholic organization. Yes, there is a divide in the presbyterate, but in my opinion it’s the same old tired divide that has existed from the day he arrived,” the Rev. Vince Rogers, the pastor at St. Andrew the Apostle in Gladstone, Mo., and a 20-year veteran of the diocese, wrote in an e-mail. “In a word, some of the priests wish that we had a more liberal bishop, and they are willing to use any means to achieve that end.”

Kathy Kane correctly points out that if a volunteer, teacher, nun or priest was found guilty of the same thing, they would no longer be able to work in the diocese. Why is the Bishop exempt? And why would any priest excuse lack of reporting – even if political motives for removal were at hand? Bottom line: Finn failed to report and allowed a child predator to remain in ministry.

32 thoughts on “Priests Lost Confidence in Their Bishop

  1. Finn has been criminally convicted; incarceration would be more appropriate. He was very clear on why he failed to report and allowed a child predator to remain in ministry. Finn said he was trying to “save” the pornographer’s “priesthood.” The state of mind of a person like Bishop Finn and so many like him is indicative of the hierarchy’s biggest problem.

    Sister Maureen

  2. The paragraph Susan excerpted in which the one priest expresses that maybe some were looking for a more liberal Bishop, is the reason why I so often try to “reign in” people on the blog when the many issues of the Church end up being discussed and the issue of child/clergy abuse takes a back seat.
    Conservative,liberal,moderate…all are welcome to help protect children and support victims.
    Woman not being allowed to be priests does not keep me awake at night..children being abused does. I personally have no interest in taking on all the issues people have with the Church..I never did.

    1. “Woman not being allowed to be priests does not keep me awake at night..children being abused does. I personally have no interest in taking on all the issues people have with the Church..I never did.”

      I hear you “loud and clear” Kathy. It becomes very obvious as time goes by that many are riding upon the fight for saving children from C.S.A. to further their own agendas in changing the Church in various ways. It’s not “rocket science” to see that entities are often in the “right” on some things, and in the “wrong” on others. The Church supports a lot of Good, and it also does much harm. Some are taking advantage of this fact.

      1. “Woman not being allowed to be priests does not keep me awake at night..children being abused does…” (Kathy K)

        Two issues… The first, insulting and ridiculous, but not a hill to die on…The other, hideous and unforgivable, and definitely a hill to die on.
        I find it hard to discuss the RCC’s sex abuse scandal without referring to its “No Females Need Apply” rule. These two issues are sickeningly interrelated as I see them. Both are symptomatic of the psycho-sexual dysfunction of the men who run the RCC….and both issues are grounded in these clerics’ shameless abuse of power.

        1. Crystal, believe me I understand the clericalism and power and how abuse thrives in such cultures . I just think sometimes people are beating a different drum when they advocate for many issues at one time and also assume that because people feel one way about a particular issue they would agree with them on all issues. Dangerous and dividing.

  3. We are very upset that someone who has been guilty of sex abuse (hiding the priests), is still a Bishop. He is no FIT to be in that position. I think that he’d better go back and read again what it is to be a priest!! We demanded that he resign a year ago.!

  4. The main reason behind the last comment. I made., that was not posted, was we must realize that GOD is revealing to us “what. was hidden will now be reavealed”.There is no way, before the Internet, that we could know what was happening all over the world at the same time as we now see clearly …HE is showing us “that we do not fight against flesh and blood but against the principalities. of the air. Fighting against one another is what the devil wants us to do. Blame each other instead of realizing we are fighting against devil.
    PS I agree with Ms.Martinez about leaving the RCC. We did in 2001. GOD IS WITH US. THE KINGDOM. OF GOD IS WITHIN!

  5. “WASHINGTON — Attorney General Eric Holder and European Union Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström will launch a global alliance targeting online child sexual abuse, building on the success of cross-border police operations that have dismantled international pedophile networks.”

    Jerry S. was right about the bishops fearing the re-election of President Obama. The AG is already moving in the right direction, hot on their trail.

    1. JayK…………you may be waiting for the “headlines”; Archbishop Chaput is awaiting a “hard accounting” (his words) in the next life before our Creator in reference to US leadership on the response to clergy sexual abuse.

  6. In Australia at least, I wouldn’t be surprised if day doesn’t come when priest’s and religious men, collectively will revolt.
    Now that they’re being made scapegoats for the inaction of their bishops and religious superiors, who out of obedience, had them silenced, being thrown to the wolves.
    The recent Australian case of St John of God brother Bernard Macgrath, is a good example.
    The December 3rd update on Brokenrites site, “whats new”, gives an historical timeline in addition to the media, where he appeared on local television, a confused and lost animal.
    I commented somewhere, the faces of consecutive superiors, no doubt running for cover should have been plastered over the news and take responsability for the heinous acts carried out by him [and others in the past] on the intellectually disadvantaged children.

  7. The current pope has fired bishops for two reasons: (1) financial mismanagement and (2) talking about women as priests.

    Not one bishop has been removed for failure to protect children.

    Archbishop Martin, in Ireland, called for resignations from bishops who mishandled the abuse situations. Some came forward to offer resignations. Rome would not accept the resignations.

  8. The KC judge found Finn guilty of concealing and not reporting sex crimes against innocent little girls. This has NEVER happened to a US bishop before. and there are many other bishops who could have been sitting in that court room and been found guilty also. So we can not expect any of the other bishops to confront Finn.

    Church officials are not able to police themselves because there is no punishment for the bishops who break their own rules. Victims deserve to be treated with respect no matter how long ago their abuse happened, Child predators need to be exposed and removed from their ministries no matter how old the allegations, because they can never be trusted to be around children.

    The KC diocese sexual abuse cover up is not an isolated case by any means.
    Even though Bishop Finn received no jail time, he is now deemed a criminal, he can not even pass the Catholic Conference of Bishops’ own “child protection back ground check”. and therefore he needs to be defrocked from the priesthood.

    Until a bishop is jailed nothing will change, and kids are still not safe today.

    Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director,
    (SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests)

  9. I look forward to a day when it is mandatory for any adult who suspects, or may believe, or witnesses a child being abused will have to follow one simple protocol of calling the police directly. I find it outrageous that there is a chain-of-command for properly reporting a child suffering from physical and sexual abuse, and I find it even more insane that when someone reports a child being abused to their superiors and nothing seems to have been done to hold the abuser accountable, that people aren’t more willing to go above and beyond their superiors to protect that child and take the case directly to police or prosecutors. It’s common sense to me that if I witness a child being raped, I’m going to get that kid out of the locker room, make sure he is safe, call police, and then some dumb evil bastard might “accidently slip in the shower” before police arrive. I believe it to be so unconscionable for any reasonable adult to leave a child in a position of extreme cruelty and to not safeguard that child immediately from any further harm. If you instead turn around and walk away from the situation, you should have absolutely zero grounds for suing the institution where you saw the abuse occurring and you should be in jail, preferrably in a cell right next to the abuser himself, because you are no better than he. How could anyone dare admit to seeing something so horrible and then have the arrogance to file a lawsuit against the institution where the abuse happened and where the abuser worked, and why are these men protected so well instead of the innocent children whose lives they destroy?

    The Catholic Church, like Penn State, recieves federal and state money, and as long as this is the case, these institutions should be held to the standard of law that the rest of us must conform to. It’s sad and it’s sickening. I make an illegal u-turn and the cops are all over my ass, but raping a child gets you a lesser punishment. How fair is that?

    One of my uncles told me before my mother passed away last February, as we were sitting together in the nursing facility where my mother passed, that he supports me and he understands that being abused as a child must have been a very difficult time for me. However, he thought that I had no right “embarrassing” the O’Connor family when I went public with my story of being abused by a priest and my uncle was Cardinal John J. O’Connor. He said I should’ve told my Uncle Jack (that’s what we called the Cardinal) when he was still alive and Uncle Jack would’ve taken care of it. Bullshit! First, I wasn’t ready to talk about it before I actually came forward. It was a specific time in my life that felt right and it felt like something I needed to do. Telling anyone about the abuse earlier was not an option, especially since just days before I reported my abuse to the Philly Deputy DA, I thought the memory of my abuse was a secret I would take to my grave. Second, do I actually believe Uncle Jack would’ve helped me? No I don’t. Do you believe he would’ve helped me? Uncle Jack would’ve told me to shut up, keep quiet, and never tell anyone about the abuse again. Uncle Jack probably would’ve driven me to suicide. Uncle Jack would’ve care more about protecting his beloved institution from scandal and less of helping me navigate through the horrible memories of my abuse, and I sincerely doubt he would’ve held anyone accountable for John McDevitt abusing me.

    If only catholic priests put as much effort into protecting children from pedophile colleagues as they do fighting gay marriage.

    As adults we play a role in abuse…and if you are not protecting children, you are neglecting them AND THAT IS ABUSE!

    If only the catholic church put as much effort into protecting children as it does it’s own dogma.

    Our law enforcement must be given every tool available to protect children from predators and parents need to know who is living in their community.

    If only more people would’ve been willing to talk about child sexual abuse back when I was a kid, maybe I would’ve gotten the message. Instead, I didn’t know what I had done wrong and why these men were punishing me. I tried to be a good boy. I can only hope that more people will talk about child sexual abuse today and in the future to come and hopefully the children will get the message through email, texts, Facebook, Youtube, video games, TV, billboards, and whatever is the next form of online communities and technology.

    I hope that the stories I tell of my own abuse protects future children from such hell. I want my life to be remembered for something good and if using the experience of being raped as a child will encourage more victims to come forward, and more adults to take this issue more seriously and help prevent more innocent victims, maybe who I’ve become because of abuse can stand for something greater than myself. Maybe I can become free by making sure future children are free from the hell I’ve lived through. All I’ve got left is “hope.”

    Peace out!

    Postscript – I elect Maureen Martinez, Kathy Kane, and Susan Matthews as my CNN Heroes of the Year.

    1. Rich, I was in a situation yesterday where my radar went up about an individual being in a place near kids where I thought he might not belong. A few years ago I would have been too worried about maybe embarrassing myself if I was wrong or worry about embarrassing another person. Not any way. I will speak loud and clear and ask many questions when something does not seem right. I am sure people think I am crazy ..I think they are crazy for having their head in the sand.

      1. Kathy,

        I know exactly what you mean. There have been times when I’ve seen men interact with a child they are not related to and it creeps me out. I want to investigate or call 911, but I worry this is my “hypervigilance” kicking in, which I know is something very common for those of us who are victims, but sometimes I also feel like I might be right about my suspicions too as if I have some kind of intuition when I see someone in one of these situations.

        A couple of years ago, I had just left a session with my therapist, of course talking about being abused by a priest, and as I’m driving home I came to a red light and walking across the street directly in front of my car was a priest holding the hands of two children on each side of him. I think my heartbeat and blood pressure went from zero to through-the-roof in a matter of seconds. I had this thought that I wanted to jump out of my car right then and there and grab those kids and get them away from that priest, because it was almost as if [in my mind] he was committing a crime right there in front of me. My next thought was, “Who in the hell would leave their kids with a priest all alone?????”

        That’s what abuse does to people. I was abused by a priest so now whenever I see one I get the creeps and my hair stands up on my arms and chills go up my spine. Granted, he might not have been abusive to those kids, but that’s not what I see. I think it’s probably because I see myself as a kid a little bit with those kids and I know what happened to me and my fear is that it will happen to those kids too. Even when I see a priest alone or one in a crowded room or in a movie, I just wonder what he does in his spare time, when he’s not saying mass. A priest in his black suit and white collar is probably the single most significant trigger I have and when I see one or I’m near one, I’m not feeling too good. During the Lynn/Brennan trial, there were some priests (other than the two scumbags on trial) sitting behind the two scumbags on trial. They were about 25 feet from where I was sitting, and that was too close for my comfort.

        Every priest I’ve ever encountered, I’ll admit that I think the worst about him. It’s like every single one of them is my abuser. It’s what identifies that they’re a priest that triggers and sets me off. I guess that’s a big reason why I can’t bring myself to believe that any good priests exist. They have a strike against them right away, and it’s that damn black suit and white collar!

        1. Rich..I have the same feelings that you do but I never have been sexually abused by a Catholic priest, nun or brother but the whole Roman Catholic Church has abused me,, my husband and my 4 children. for as long as we were involved with them…. 60 yrs for me., more for my husband, as he was born to it. I was a convert at 12.
          Their lieing, evil ways. that we were told about. by family. members in religious orders but wouldn’t believe. we eventually found out to be. 2001. When we left!

          .Abuse comes in many areas ..physical., psychological and spiritual. SADLY you have them all. I am totally angered by how they get away with this s–t..When I think of how gullible I was an adult, it makes me ill ….I have been bloggng for over ten years. I feel for you and this evil you endure! This , is what no child, young person or adult should ever have to go through in their life and by. a trusted religious adult .who should be your mentor rather than. your tormentor. May God do something soon., to rid the world of these evils..I think they are all to blame as you do. All knew about it and did nothing!!

  10. Our Diocese in Kansas City Missouri is suffering. She is hurt badly, bleeding profusely. Our flock is paralyzed, demoralized, leaderless and embarrassed. The basic roles of a Catholic Bishop in any diocese are to serve as moral, spiritual and administrative leaders. Bishop Robert Finn has failed on all accounts.

    I started the petition for Bishop Finns resignation because I believe that forgiveness and change can coexist. They can and must work together. Join me in supporting and calling for change.

  11. From Archbishop Chaput’s Weekly Column:

    “….>>>..Advent means “coming.” What’s coming in the reality of Christmas is an invasion. The world needs the invasion but doesn’t want it. It’s an invasion of human flesh and of all creation by the Son of God; by the holiness of the Creator himself.
    All of us in the Church were baptized to be part of that good invasion. The doubts, the failures and the mistakes of the past don’t ultimately matter. Only our choices now matter. How will we live our Christian faith from this day forward? How will we make our Catholic witness an icon of Christ’s Advent?”

    Really…..”the doubts, failures and mistakes of the past don’t ultimately matter”?

    One thing Archbishop Chaput is spot on about is “…our choices now matter.”
    Choose to support the overturning of the Statute of Limitations on Child Sexual Abuse!
    Choose to support the opening of a two year window so those wronged by the “doubts, the failures and the mistakes of the past” can see justice served. Do it now!

  12. Speaking of Archbishop Chaput and his weekly column, the comments enclosed below were posted to an article at regarding the archbishop’s speech recently in Lima, Peru. Even though my comments on that site were oftentimes rejected and not permanently posted, they stilled appeared on my computer, I have now discovered that no matter whether my comments are critical or laudatory, automatically rejects the comments, and they do not appear at all. I have been permanently banned, so it appears. Ironically, such rejection is just what the final comments were all about.

    “…So when the Catholic Church teaches about the dignity of the unborn child, the purpose of human sexuality, economic and immigration justice, the rights of religious communities and believers, and the nature of marriage and the family – she’s not just “unpopular.” She’s hated as the enemy of individual privacy and personal freedom…” (Archbishop Chaput)

    Archbishop Chaput, this is an unfair generalization and portrayal of the entire picture of just how our Catholic Church is portrayed and discussed in our political arenas and through mass media. There is no singular Catholic understanding and perspective on some of the issues put forth in your statement above and to suggest that differences of opinion and valid, objective criticism are to be equated with “hatred” of the institutional Catholic philosophy and teaching is simply faulty reasoning and rationalization.
    By: Michael Skiendzielewski on December 6, 2012 at 7:24 pm

  13. I’m just curious where everyone’s expectations are after you all have now spent well over a year fighting alongside with us?

    I have to say that my expectations are at an all-time low about believing that the Statute of Limitations will ever change, at least in my lifetime. I think I only operate now under the impression that what I do in these moments might be enough, along with everyone else who is currently fighting to change these stupid laws, to possibly get the SOLs abolished for the generations of children after I’m long gone. I still have hope, but I’m not confident I will ever get justice in Philadelphia.

    I’m just curious though where you all stand? Do you feel positive that things will change, or are you like me, always pessimistic anyway, who believe that nothing will change?

    I’m very interested in your replies.

    Peace out!

    1. Rich,

      I maintain a positive attitude, and this is the 3rd decade that I’ve been at it. I may not be able to change the SOL, but I will never stop my efforts to discredit worthless prelates. It’s always going to be the “Catholic Spring” for me. I will keep trying to ensure that the bishops evil ways stay in the public light. I want it to be very hard for them to hide.

    2. Rich, good question. i have not been “fighting” like you and many others… mostly just learning and getting a feel for the truth about the rcc for the first time in my life. I sometimes fear children don’t matter quite enough for our society to move aside the obstacles to SOL reform.
      Everything else i see and hear tells me that the species of pew sitting, starry-eyed Catholics who facilitated this atrocious system in which hundreds of thousands of kids were harmed, is well along in the process of extinction. There will be no “next generation” of parents who feed their precious children to clerical pedophiles.

      The cause you fight for, Rich, matters greatly NOW and reaches into the future. By speaking out, you’re educating…You’re freeing abused children from the bonds of shame and secrecy. You’re giving a voice to the children nobody defended or even believed… You’re making it possible for them to come out of the shadows by the thousands, to tell us what happened…and because society is awake and listening now, anything can happen.

      Listen to the MUSTN’TS, child,
      Listen to the DON’TS
      Listen to the SHOULDN’TS
      Listen to the NEVER HAVES
      Then listen close to me-

      (Shel Silverstein)

    3. Rich ,I don’t know about in Pa. but am optimistic we will see it happen in a few states in the near future. As important as SOL reform is to this cause, so is the info and education all victims provide which is a key to keeping kids safe. There is not one element that will be the key in this situation but rather many things coming together to protect kids. SOL reform and identifying perps is of course a huge part of the puzzle but so is understandiung how abuse happens on ordinary days,in ordinary situations and perps look like ordinary people. Before all of my involvement in this, I was more concerned with stranger danger and someone snatching kids. I have had conversation with kids that I never would have had before because of things you and others have written and shared. That is huge,never underestimate the effect that you have had and will continue to have in protecting children.

    4. I get discouraged with the Catholic Church, but I am hopeful in the fight against child sexual abuse.

      I don’t know if it will happen in my lifetime, but I don’t hold myself to an end goal. Even if the statute is opened, there is so much more work to be done.

      Whatever time God gives me, it is an opportunity to tell my story. Pioneers in this fight have made incredible strides in opening this conversation about the sexual abuse of children. Every person hundreds of years ago and even decades ago thought NO ONE would believe them. Here we are. We know. We believe. Hundreds of thousands in multiple languages around this globe believe what they doubted anyone would ever think possible. No matter what the Catholic Church has done, denied, or perpetuated, they can’t silence truth. Ever. I want justice in my lifetime for victims. I want accountability in my lifetime. I want safety for all children.

      I am hopeful that whatever the outcome of political fights, statutes and laws…the truth will prevail.

      I see classrooms of students talking openly about this topic. The conversations in churches that have occurred because we keep telling the truth…it shifts the climate and culture of secrecy. I’m not some pollyanna…I’m a first hand witness to what the Catholic Church does behind closed doors. The handshakes with politicians, the Cardinals who lie, the institutional loyalty at the expense of children…all of it…and I can tell you without a doubt that I have hope because I have truth.

      The fight will continue long after I’m gone. The victims will never be silenced again.

  14. “the institutional loyalty at the expense of children”
    Those words hit like a ton of bricks whether it be the Church, Boy Scouts, Sandusky…Loyalty to buildings ,beliefs and reputations rather than the innocence of a child.

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