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D as in distortion.

Last Friday, Mollie did a superb job cataloging Bill Donohue's shortcomings both as a crusader against anti-Catholicism (which obviously includes using the occasion of World AIDS Day to call people with HIV promiscuous) and as a surrogate for the conservative movement (giving Dick Morris a run for his money). Her conclusion was pointed: "Seriously, your excellencies and eminences: what will it take to make you rethink the wisdom of encouraging Bill Donohue to act as your public interpreter?"

Wish I knew. Donohue has said lots of offensive things on a variety of topics, but his record on one subject in particular ought to give Catholic bishops considerable pause before lending him support: the sexual-abuse scandal.

Over the weekend, the New York Times reported that the clergy of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph are divided on the question of whether their bishop should resign after being found guilty of one count of failing to report suspected child abuse. (A diocesan school principal warned the diocese about about Fr. Shawn Ratigan's "inappropriate behavior with children" in May 2010; seven months later disturbing photos of little girls were found on Ratigan's laptop; Bishop Robert Finn didn't restrict Ratigan until February 2011; and the police weren't notified until May 2011.) The Times story is ugly: One priest goes on the record recommending the bishop step down. Another says his liberal colleagues are using Finn's travails to push for a new, less conservative bishop. More than one hundred thousand people have signed an online petition urging Finn to step aside. The diocese has spent $1.4 million on legal fees. And the Times spoke with two priests who say that at a recent meeting of diocesan clergy Finn denied any wrongdoing. Yet he agreed to a set of stipulated facts that led a judge to render a guilty verdict. "I truly regret and am sorry for the hurt these events caused," Finn told the judge at the time. And now he's privately telling priests that he did nothing wrong?

Of course, none of that troubles Donohue. When it comes to defending Bishop Finn, Dr. D. is all in. We've been over this before, so bear with me as I rehearse some of the details. After Finn was convicted, Donohue offered his magisterial shrug, claiming Ratigan's case involved neither child abuse nor pornography. No and no. In August, Ratigan pleaded guilty to federal charges of possessing and creating child pornography. In December 2010, diocesan staff found staged photos on Ratigan's laptop. Child pornography always involves abuse -- the subjects in such photos don't pose themselves. That's why the Vatican amended church norms to include possession of child pornography in its definition of sexual abuse.

No one is hiding those facts. If Donohue had the slightest interest in learning more about the way Finn handled this case, he might have Googled "Shawn Ratigan." There's been no shortage of reporting on the case. But no. He remains undeterred by facts that complicate his view of Bishop Finn as anything other than unjustly accused. And so Dr. D. is at it again, peddling the same old untruths in a brand new press release responding to the latest Times article on Finn.

Observe as Donohue tries his hand at fact-checking:

The Times says that Finns 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.

No, that statement is what's factually wrong. Dr. D. is selectively citing that October 15 Times story. A "single photo" is mentioned. But it refers to the fact that the Vicar General Msgr. Robert Murphy described only one of Ratigan's photos to Rick Smith, a member of the diocesan review board -- and a cop -- in a half-hearted attempt to figure out whether the images amounted to child pornography. This is one of Donohue's favorite facts about this case. He can't quit using it to distort what really happened.

Thus spake Dr. D.:

Moreover, the diocese described the single photo of a naked girl to a police officer who served on the diocesan sexual review board, and he said it did not constitute pornography.

False. Msgr. Murphy told the cop that the photo depicted a girl in a nonsexual pose. He asked Smith whether such a photo would amount to child pornography. The cop said he'd have to ask around the department. But he hadn't seen the photo. Nor did he know how many others were on Ratigan's computer. When Smith got back to Murphy, he reported the photo as described might or might not be pornographic. What's more, months later, after Murphy had an attack of conscience and decided to come clean about the rest of the images in Ratigan's collection, Smith was not amused. "That's not what you told me," the cop said, giving Murphy an ultimatum: get the laptop to the police today or I'm calling it in myself. And that's just what he ended up doing, because it turned out that Finn had given the laptop to Ratigan's brother, who destroyed it. (The diocese gave the police a disc containing copies of the photos.)

Watch as these facts are run through the Donohue distortion field:

So why would the Times say that hundreds of pornographic pictures were found two years ago this month? The record shows that it was not until after the diocese called the cops in May 2011 that porn pictures were found on Ratigans computer.

That is definitely not what the record shows. First, the diocese did not "call the cops." A cop called the cops. Second, among the hundreds of disturbing photographs found on Ratigan's computer was a series that focused on a young girl's crotch. She was wearing only a diaper, and over the course of several photos the diaper was gradually moved to fully expose her genitals. Those images were among those first discovered in December 2010 by Julie Creech, director of information systems for the diocese. She also found evidence that Ratigan had visited websites selling spy-cams and two-way mirrors -- along with the Facebook pages of several young girls. Third, only after the diocesan review-board member called the police were more photos found on a computer Ratigan used during a previous parish assignment.

Donohue wants you to believe that the "single photo" was the only really offensive thing the diocese had to go on, that a cop definitively declared it nonpornographic, and that the really terrible stuff wasn't found until after the the diocese referred the Ratigan case to the police department. But none of that is true. The diocese did not call the police. Capt. Rick Smith, diocesan review-board-member, said the single photo might be pornographic. And in December 2010 the diocese was aware that Ratigan had dozens of potentially illegal photos on his computer. And on the same day those photos were found, Msgr. Murphy briefed Bishop Finn on the situation. (Wouldn't you know it -- neither Murphy nor Finn say they recall the details of that conversation.)

All of that is a matter of public record. The case was exhaustively examined in a study Finn commissioned -- a study Donohue himself cites in his outrageous closing:

Under Bishop Finn, the review board was contacted, the authorities were notified, and an independent investigation was ordered (the Graves Report). In short, Bishop Finn deserves better. The attack on him, coming exclusively from the Catholic Left, smacks of an agenda.

Gosh, that makes it sound like Bishop Finn couldn't have acted more responsibly. Apparently Dr. D. could not be bothered to read the report he cites. Because if he had, he'd know that nothing could be further from the truth. Bishop Finn did not bring the matter before the review board. Finn did not notify the authorities. No diocesan employee called the police. An unpaid lay member of the diocesan review board did. That is why a judge found Finn guilty of failing to report suspected child abuse. There is no conspiracy on the Catholic left to bring down a conservative bishop. This transcends ideology. Kansas City Catholics want to know what it means to have a bishop who violated both canon and civil law, and as a result could not even be hired as a parish volunteer in his own diocese.

So what is it exactly that Bill Donohue imagines Bishop Finn deserves? To be defended with falsehoods? To be left alone, while the rest of us pretend there's nothing strange about a bishop who was convicted of the crime that drove the scandal to continue in office without so much as a peep from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops? Is the suspended sentence Finn received supposed to be sufficient to restore the trust of the Catholics of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph? What about his responsibility-avoiding apology?

Does Bill Donohue seriously believe that Bishop Finn has gotten a raw deal? Finn imposed appallingly light restrictions on a priest known to possess potentially illegal images of naked little girls, and when he learned that the priest was violating those strictures, he did nothing more than scold him. And what happened during that time? Ratigan continued taking illicit photos of little girls. "The images of my daughters private areas that the FBI showed me, they are forever burned into my brain," one parent wrote to Finn. "Shawn Ratigan was in my house, around my children in February [2011], and I thought my children were completely SAFE!" The parents of those children are scandalized. Bishop Finn is on probation.

So why would any bishop stand up for a man like Bill Donohue, let alone endorse his work? What are Catholics who are still struggling to forgive the bishops for the sexual-abuse scandal supposed to think when they see some of them supporting a person who has such a difficult time telling the truth about the Finn case, a man who has asked why teenagers "allow themselves to be molested"? That the hierarchy has turned a corner on the greatest crisis ever to seize the Catholic Church in the United States? Or that some prominent bishops really do believe that Bill Donohue paints on the "canvas of the cardinal virtues"? One of which is temperance.



Commenting Guidelines

I share your indignation about Bishop Finn.

Grant Gallicho, researcher extraordinaire does it again! This is outstanding: going through the documentation to expose Donohue's rant for the dishonest drivel it is. Thank you, Grant, for expressing outrage in such strong terms.Imagine: that's $1.4 million in legal fees for one guilty criminal who refuses to acknowledge any culpability for his actions. Actually I doubt there are any, let alone many complicit bishops who believe in their hearts they did anything wrong. After all, no one intended any harm.Donohue provides PR cover and his noise so far has been a handy convenience for bishops. Let's also remember Finn's 2007 pastoral letter on pornography linked to in Mark Silk's thread on Donohue yesterday. I believe Jack Barry has covered that in prior posts here.

Donohue must be doing something right to merit 2 threadlines on such a prestigious blog.

My Diocese is suffering. Our flock feels demoralized, paralyzed and embarrassed by Bishop Robert Finn. Bishop Finn (and any Bishop) serves as our moral, spiritual and administrative leader. He has failed on all accounts. His continued presence in our diocese serves only himself, a handful of supporters, and a conference of bishops awash in mediocrity and inaction.I started the petition for his resignation, to show that forgiveness and change can co-exist, they can and should work together.

As Vatican I states, the Pope " "full and supreme power of jurisdiction, not only in matters of faith and morals, but also in those which concern the discipline and governance of the Church dispersed throughout the world".In other words the buck stops with him. Should probably tweet him about this and ask what HE is actually doing. There is a crisis of leadership and if he is not part of the solution, he is part or actually IS the problem.

Thanks - a couple of other thoughts:- can we suggest that the USCCB's silence is *complicity* in a legal, technical sense- why hasn't the USCCB modified the 2002 statement to include accountability for bishops, cover-ups, etc.? (they appear to pass the buck to Rome)- compare the inaction on Finn with Rome's recent actions against a variety of bishops, priests when they are found guilty of supposed disloyalty, heresies, etc. e.g. Bishop Morris who supposedly voiced a need to discuss priesthood be expanded to others? Ah yes, any mention of women and the priesthood results in almost immediate dismissal; even if it is only to discuss the issue. How can any sane person compare abuse cover-up and possible discussing ordination of women and realize that in the eyes of Rome, the later is the more serious event.As Bishop Geoffrey Robinson says: Hypocrisy.

On Dec 9 ten years ago, 58 Boston priests sent their open letter to Cdl. Law asking him to resign. They wrote: "your position as our bishop is so compromised that it is no longer possible for you to exercise the spiritual leadership required for the church of Boston". By that time, the departure process was evidently underway; Law had flown secretly to Rome and the Pope accepted his resignation on Dec 13. Yet, the letter from the priests was uniquely important among many voices speaking out. Dozens of the Cardinals own priests had found the virtue and courage to speak up together when the Church in Boston had reached the state their letter reflects. (Letter link under picture)

Donohue's willingness to say absolutely anything to distract from the hierarchy's role in, and failure to respond to, the sex-abuse scandal is the number-one reason bishops should distance themselves from him. In my most cynical moments, I fear that it's also the number-one reason so many prominent bishops are his enthusiastic boosters today.

Jack Barry rightly recalls Cardinal Law's disgrace and Roman posting. Now cardinal O'Malley is left with closing more parishes, schools and cleaning up after the demoralized faithful have walked away.. In a few years 'they' will send in the clean up guy to KC .. It's a small potatoes place now with a demoralized clergy and faithful and it will be much much less when the cleanup guy arrives very late as usual. Won't some bishops recall how No. Africa was a thriving Faith place in the time of Augustine and is now a Faith parched desert. Ireland is now becoming the modern Faith desert with a fake green tint. .

"In a few years they will send in the clean up guy to KC."I don't think so. I suspect that Mark Proska and his ideological confreres will hold the day. Kansas City will have a disgraced conservative bishop for another sixteen years. And he will be an example of how the self-styled "orthodox" and "faithful" and "traditional" Catholics can be as sinful, stained, and scandalous as anyone else. An entire generation of Kansas City Catholics will grow up under a marginalized bishop giving an antigospel example. I'd say it's time to return to one preconciliar practice, just for survival's sake: the local bishop is meaningless.

Jack,There were many actions taken against Law: by the 58 priests, by survivors and their supporters demonstrating at the cathedral, by VOTF's vote for his resignation, and by a grand jury subpoena for his testimony. I have come to believe that none of the measures above were the real reason JPII accepted Law's resignation, after declining it on his first trip to Rome some weeks earlier. It was MONEY, what else, that was the catalyst. After the inadvertent release of the Fr. James D. Foley documents among others on December 3,* 2002, major donors let it be known that Law needed to go. They made it clear to key church officials that they would help rescue the Boston archdiocese financially, but only if Law left. He was in Rome by Dec. 8 and gone Dec. 13. If major donors in Kansas City would act Then again, Finn is in Opus Dei, and they are not known to be a poor organization.Todd,I fear you are right. Rome will not be pushed around by uppity priests and laity, so 16 years may be realistic. If bishops' primary concern were the "care of souls" then Finn would be gone in a minute, but the controlling factors are money and the exercise of power. As Eugene Kennedy wrote in one piece, the message is: "We have power and you do not and we enjoy using it over you."(*Cleric Had 2 Children, Kept Status

Jeff W. ==Thank you for initiating action to try to remove a man with criminally bad judgment. Maybe he didn't understand the effects of his inaction. but such bad understanding of human nature disqualifies him from being an effective bishop. He should be removed from office.

To clarify "inadvertent" release of documents: "The archdiocese mistakenly included the files of the Rev. James D. Foley when it turned over to lawyers for alleged victims of sexual abuse the files of the Rev. James J. Foley, who has been accused of sexual molestation.It turned out, however, that Rev. James D. Foley had been caught up in a scandal of a different sort: The records mistakenly handed over showed that he had fathered two children in the 1960s by a woman who subsequently died of an overdose with Foley present. When those documents became public last week, the Rev. James D. Foley was removed from his parish assignment in Salem." Boston Globe

"Should probably tweet him about this and ask what HE is actually doing. There is a crisis of leadership and if he is not part of the solution, he is part or actually IS the problem."George D. --Yes, we should. And we should continue to ask about it until action is taken. There is already a petition to remove Bishop Finn with 150,000 signatures. All of them and the rest of us should continue tweeting the Pope until he acts.Anybody with me?

Here is the link to Jeff Weis' petition: Let's all sign.

Carolyn - or Jeff Weil --I went to the site, but there was no place to sign. How does one sign it?

With care, I think that it is possible for people to set Bishop Finn aside, as though he had resigned. For example, instead of contributing to the Diocesan appeal, they can give the money to a local Catholic organization on which he does not have oversight, or to a local Christian organization, or to the diocesan appeal of another diocese which they would "adopt". They can make presents to their parish in kind and not in dollars, so that no fraction of the donation goes to the diocese.They can cancel their subscription to the diocesan paper and subscribe to another paper instead. They can avoid reading anything Bishop Finn has written and avoid listening to anything he has said. They can avoid talking about him, or looking at him, or interacting with him in any way. They can ask for confirmation to be conferred by someone else; defer confirmation if that is not possible; or at least not take pictures of him with the newly confirmed youth.

Priests like Fr. Roy Bourgeois, Fr. William Rowe are punished and Law and Finn are not rebuked. When I think of the US bishops, of the Vatican, I feel a dreadful combination of anger and disgust and contempt. Also a kind of despair - they won't do the right thing of their own accord and we don't have the power to make them. Wish someone would launch a coup.

In a way it's a little bit like the Catholic church in China: they have some bishops that are imposed against their will by the Chinese government and have to make do with the situation as best as they can. What are the recommendations of the Vatican to Catholics in China about how to handle it? They might give useful guidelines.

If you want to do something about criminal bishops, please sign the petition to President Obama at

I have praised Grant's work before, but this time I am very disappointed.While he accuses Dr. Donohue of distortion, Gallicho commits quite a bit of distortion of his own.For an accurate summary of the Ratigan episode, I recommend that people *actually read* the Graves Report: is gambling that people will not actually click the link he provides. One will then see that Gallicho is very selective in his facts, and Donohue's presentation is actually accurate. What is shocking about the whole episode is that there were SEVEN diocesan employees (including two computer techs!) - and Bishop Finn was *not* one of the seven - who saw the images but did not call the police. Why not? The prosecutor clearly seized upon the issue to target a bishop, and she succeeded.And even as the Times article begrudgingly admits, even without the Ratigan episode, half of priests would vote to get rid of Finn because they are dissident and liberal, and Finn is a conservative. The fact that there is 1000% more anger at Bishop Finn than Ratigan himself is proof of this.And as far as Gallicho's claim that "There is no conspiracy on the Catholic left to bring down a conservative bishop," I am stunned by such blatant dishonesty.But Gallicho's biggest distortion is the "100,000 +" signatures to get rid of Finn. The petition is on a far-left web site (, where various kooky, 'progessive' causes are espoused. 99.9% of the signatures are from people outside of Kansas City who have nothing to with the issue.And Gallicho's claim that bishops "stand up" for Donohue, that is a straw man if there ever was one. Donohue does what he does. He defends the Church when he feels that it has been wronged. And ...?I am saddened by Gallicho's egregious deceit and guile. It is palpable that the exploitation of children does not really bother Gallicho. It is simple an issue with which he can attack a conservative bishop. How despicable. Gallicho should be ashamed.

I can't stop looking at his sunglasses. It's like he's a really flush Asa Hawks.

If you want to do something about criminal bishops, please sign the petition to President Obama atJerry,You have to be joking... Or do you expect Obama to create the next Thomas Beckett or Thomas More? Btw, a little perspective might be useful here. Finn's crime is a misdemeanor. And I would guess that everyone reading or writing on this site has been guilty of one as well since misdemeanors include crimes like speeding. (Excessive speed is responsible for a third of all fatal accidents) Not suggesting that we should encourage our Bishops to break any laws

I wish even one bishop would say publicly that the very name "Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights" is a lie. Donohue does absolutely nothing to protect the religious and civil rights of Catholics, because the Constitution does not give Catholics the right to force other people to say only nice things about our faith. And if I were denied housing or employment because of my religion, I would turn for help not to the Catholic League but to the ACLU, which has tons of experience in this area. All I could expect from Donohue would be a press release--and since I favor the ordination of women and marriage equality, probably not even that. By his yardstick, I myself am an anti-Catholic bigot.@ DPierre: "begrudgingly" means enviously. I assume you mean "grudgingly," which means reluctantly.

I think they're Gucci. I kind of covet them.

@Bruce, re: "begrudgingly"Begrudge: "to be reluctant to give, grant, or allow" (def. #2)"Begrudgingly" is fine as I used it.

DPierre: The one thing that was omitted by Grant that makes a difference to me is that Fr Ratigan tried to commit suicide when found out. To me, that explains why Bp Finn cut him some slack. But it does not justify it and is not legally relevant, which I guess is why Grant omitted it. You say in defense of Bp Finn that he did not see the pictures, but that is already irresponsible on the part of the bishop. He chose not to ask for the pictures. His repeated bad judgment renders him unfit to lead. Bruce, yes, his crime is a mere misdemeanor: like a school bus driver who is found guilty of reckless driving, he should be terminated from his job, but after that things might not need to go much further than that. He simply needs to be moved out of a position where he has responsibilities for which he is unfit. If he were a school bus driver, was kept on the job, the company said not one word blaming him, and he started denying wrong-doing in private, I would also be indignant.

I am concerned that too many Catholics are just adapting to whatever is dished up by the latest scandal. Feeling unable to do anything to change an unjust situation in our Church, they give into it.This response is sinful in itself. But because it's a manifestation of social sin, it is not questioned or denounced. The whole situation conspires to make people sin the more. I am looking for prophetic voices to name what is happening, not to the hierarchy, but to the faithful because of this ongoing problem.

Claire: According to the Graves Report, doctors initially thought Ratigan would not survive his suicide attempt, and that's partly why Finn didn't remove him from ministry straightaway. Within ten days it was clear that Ratigan would fully recover. Of course, like several other bishops who made bad decisions when advised of dangerous priests, Finn was confused about what canon law allows when it comes to suspending priests. He mistakenly believed he couldn't just put him on administrative leave pending investigation. Bishops always have that option. (Also, I included Ratigan's suicide attempt in a previous post, which I linked to above.)As for DPierre's attempts to rebut me, he's also confused. I've distorted nothing. I encourage everyone to read the Graves Report. I didn't say Finn saw the images on the laptop. But they were described to him, as was Creech's detailed memo about them. He didn't ask to see them -- which boggles the mind. People are upset with Finn because he failed to follow canon and civil law. He put children at risk. The only deceit here is DPierre's.

Donohue has a habit of referring and responding to things he hears or reads without telling his readers what he's talking about. It's hard for me to say whether this is sloppiness or evasiveness; I think it's usually a bit of both. But I do think it's pretty ridiculous for "DPierre" to criticize Grant for linking to the source he's accused of distorting, when Donohue does not link to or even clearly identify the NYT story he's misrepresenting. He never does. To amplify his bullying, Donohue relies on people who take what he says as credible (God knows why) without ever looking into it themselves. So, today, a new Catholic League tweet: "Bishop Finn's foes are so anxious to get him that they become the new puritans. To wit: Mark Silk equates child nudity with child porn." Here's the Mark Silk blog post Donohue is apparently referring to. It would be interesting to hear Donohue actually respond to what Silk wrote. It strikes me as bizarre that instead he wants to dismiss as puritanical anyone who might be alarmed by nude photos of children in a particular context. Even someone who doesn't bother to find out what Donohue's griping about here should be given pause by the way he attempts to wave it off, don't you think?

Apparently it doesn't matter to Donohue that Ratigan pleaded guilty to federal charges of possessing and creating child pornography.

Well obviously that just means Ratigan himself is part of the liberal Catholic plot to make it look like Bishop Finn did something wrong.

"I am concerned that too many Catholics are just adapting to whatever is dished up by the latest scandal. Feeling unable to do anything to change an unjust situation in our Church, they give into it."This response is sinful in itself. But because its a manifestation of social sin, it is not questioned or denounced. The whole situation conspires to make people sin the more. I am looking for prophetic voices to name what is happening, not to the hierarchy, but to the faithful because of this ongoing problem."Rita, way to lay on the Catholic guilt! Only half teasing b/c I'm not sure what you think people should do. Seems to me that Grant's identifying blind obedience/collusion with corruption in high places here and Eugene M's piece on the Dolan-Donohue-Anderson troika are good starts. I no longer give to the bishop's appeal (and he knows why if he reads his mail). And we can pray, certainly.But are we supposed to stop going to mass? Move to new dioceses? What do you think the answer is?

Rita, like Jean it is not clear to me what you would propose.The most natural adaptation mechanism, it seems to me, is to ignore the bishop. That leads to a weakening of episcopal authority. In the US, that is perhaps a good thing. Eventually, one day, we may get leaders who are humbled by their powerlessness. That could be good. Less temporal power, more holiness: it's a good trade!In the meantime we have to bear with the absence of obvious leaders. It's no fun, but maybe it's good for us too.

I am not going to defend Bishop Finn.What concerns me is that Commonweal recently showcased an article by Rembert Weakland, former Archbishop of Milwaukee. We all know that Weakland paid out hush money to keep his former male lover quiet. This money came out of archdiocesan funds money that could have been used in assisting the local poor. Moreover, Weakland told abuse whistleblowers that archdiocesan lawyers would scrutinize their complaints for libelous remarks. He would later refer to the actions of these people as squealing (although he eventually apologized for that remark.) Weakland wrote in his book, "A Pilgrim in a Pilgrim Church,"We all considered sexual abuse of minors as a moral evil, but had no understanding of its criminal nature Weakland also said that he initially "accepted naively the common view that it was not necessary to worry about the effects on the youngsters: either they would not remember or they would 'grow out of it.'"Archbishop Weakland is a theological and political liberal; Bishop Finn is a conservative. If Finn resigns, will Commonweal defend his right to publish in a Catholic weekly? Will he, like Rembert Weakland, be welcomed back into the public discourse of the People of God?

Mr. Donohue wrote a book on the four cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance? That is so hugely ironic. Is the book any good?

Finn pleaded guilty to CRIMINAL misdemeanor involving the health, safety, and welfare of little children. Earlier, the bishop sent Ratigan to a psychiatrist affiliated with an organization that helps clerics in trouble; if I recall, the MD (apparently not concerned with acquiring or maintaining professional board certification in psychiatry) bought the cleric's story about people out to get him! Finn obviously put ecclesiastical considerations ahead of any possible concern for kids.Finn needs to go! And Pope Benedict XVI, if he wants to demonstrate genuine concern in this matter, needs to fire Finn pronto! In any other scenario, the bishop's butt would have been out the door back in September.What can KC-St Joe Catholics do? They can stop money to parish and diocese. If they receive the local church paper by paid subscription, they can let it lapse or inform the publisher to terminate their subscription. (I've also said in the past that concerned parishioners should work with sympathetic attorneys/accountants to set up separate parish expense accounts that cannot be touched in any way, direct or indirect, by the bishop.)The laity and local clergy must hold accountable. This is not about forgiveness but, instead, about assuming responsibility for his knowing and willing dereliction of duty in one of the most sensitive areas of church life today.Finn's continuing presence in the diocese is a disgrace and an outrage.

I no longer give to the bishops appeal (and he knows why if he reads his mail).And we can pray, certainly.But are we supposed to stop going to mass? Move to new dioceses? What do you think the answer is?Jean,I find this commentary really sad. I assume you are a lay Catholic just like me. Most of us have never even met our local bishop, a few might have had their picture taken with him and fewer still know and work with him. But our duties as lay Catholics are really quite independent of the bishop, and even more independent of our opinion of him. Of course we are to attend mass, receive the sacraments, pray, give alms - even to the bishops appeal, etc. It is our obligation to give, its the recipients obligation to use the money well. St. Therese's of Lisieux little way in terms of a commitment to the tasks and to the people we meet in our everyday lives is really what being a lay catholic is all about. This handwringing over the hierarchy is completely misdirected.

Bruce --We are obliged to give to the poor. We are not obliged to give to any particular charity, not even the bishop's. I happen to have a decent bishop, but I can understand people who do not wish their incompetent bishops to remain in office. It does seem true -- money is the only language the papal nuncio and the Vatican understand. I used not to think that, but the evidence has forced me to change my mind.

Frank Gibbons,I do not defend Rembert Weakland's record in the abuse scandal or his personal conduct. Neither apparently does he. I do find instructive his open penance laying prostrate in a packed cathedral. When people erupted in applause at the end of the penitential service, he stopped it, and insisted on leaving the altar in silence.Finn's conduct is equally instructive: a refusal to admit he did anything wrong, and I suspect he heartily welcomes any applause that comes his way.Those differing responses are meaningful to me.

If the pope and bishops are going to be so strict with charities when it comes to the use of the non-proprietary term "Catholic," they might consider the same goose sauce for the gander "Catholic" League.I realize that might cost them some financial support, but life sux sometimes.

Carolyn,Let me reiterate that I do not defend Bishop Finn.Perhaps Rembert Weakland apologized publicly for using archdiocesan funds to pay off his accuser. However, according to SNAP, Weakland has never apologized for his mishandling of sexual abuse in Milwaukee. The following is from a SNAP Wisconsin press release of 10/4/12."Finally, Weakland has never apologized publically to victim/survivors and their families, and he could have used the interview with Gibney to perform this one decent gesture, knowing victims of priests he was responsible for would be undoubtedly watching the film. He could have apologized for his written remarks he once made in the Catholic newspaper that not all victims of priests are so innocent and that some victims are street wise and savvy. He could have apologized when in an interview with the Milwaukee Journal, around the very time he was sending secret reports about Murphy to Ratzinger, he opines that once a priest loses sexual interest in a child that is when the squealing starts and you have to deal with it. Perhaps he had in mind some of the deaf victims of Murphy who were causing him so much consternation. And he could apologize as to why he commissioned a bronze relief of himself in the cathedral, which is still there, depicting himself in the place of Christ shepherding little children, when so many childrens lives were destroyed under his care."

As long as people continue to provide financial support, nothing will change.

Solidarity forever:'s appropriate that the theme movie about the current state of Catholicism is coming soon: Les Miserables.

Abp. Weakland is out of the actively ministering picture. Finn should be. THAT is the shame of it all.And, yes, I deliberately left Finn's title off. As far as I am concerned, he doesn't deserve to used it anymore.

"I no longer give to the bishops appeal (and he knows why if he reads his mail). "While it feels good to individuals to stop giving and to let the bishop know why, it is unfortunately relatively meaningless.But if an entire parish refuses (as has mine for the last 10 years!) that is noticed. We have been in constant "negotiation" with the archdiocese of San Francisco for the past 3 years and our compromise is to give our unwilling "donation" to either Catholic Charities or a specific list of parish schools. Our nut is about $55,000 a year.There are ways to do these things that cause notice to be taken ... and can eventually involve the parish in determining how its money will be used.

Frank G. - -There are huge differences between the Weakland and Finn cases. The Weakland case involved a young man in his 20s. The Finn case involved a prepubescent little child. Archbishop Weakland resigned, has shown great contrition, and has testified as to how the cover=ups were done, while Bishop Finn sometimes still doesn't admit he did anything wrong. I've forgotten where I read this, but years ago I read that the money which Weakland paid the young was money he had earned making speeches and given to the diocese. He didn't use money from the laity.And, if you'll notice, it seems that many of us are willing to forgive -- when there is repentence that seems genuine.

"Archbishop Weakland is a theological and political liberal; Bishop Finn is a conservative. If Finn resigns, will Commonweal defend his right to publish in a Catholic weekly? Will he, like Rembert Weakland, be welcomed back into the public discourse of the People of God?"As it happens, Commonweal's editors wrote on this topic about nine years ago - not in reference to Weakland and Finn, but Weakland and Law. The editors' criteria at that time seem to me to strike the right balance, and I'd think they answer your question, Frank G.

About the Bishop's Fund: for the last some years I've made a token contribution to the local Catholic Charities, with the check thus made out. I used to explain why

Sorry, pushed the wrong button again. I used to explain why in a letter, but after never getting any response, spared myself the trouble. There are plenty of secular organizations that do charitable work -- food banks, homeless shelters, medical centers, etc. etc. etc. One thing that the Catholic Church in this country has shown us is that it is a feckless steward of its (and our wealth), pouring out vast sums to victims, to lawyers, and so forth (to say nothing of ecclesiastical finery), and our dollars probably are more beneficial to society if given to institutions we trust, and that are accountable.