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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

Jean: I am against the idea of stopping to go to Mass. Do you remember that in "The Power and the Glory", at one point an old woman says to the main character: "You're a bad priest"? Yet it does not prevent her from going to him for Mass and even for confession. I like that attitude. A holy Mass presided by a sinful priest and attended by sinful people: that makes sense to me. We need the sacraments. My basic request is for people to be removed from positions in which they may cause harm, but after that, we're all together in this mess that life is.

Ann Oliver,There are two separate issues regarding Rembert Weakland. One is his paying hush money to a lover. The other is his reassigning known pedophiles to be near children. In that case, he is like Bishop Finn in that he mishandled his dealings with dangerous members of the clergy who were under his care. It is SNAP who charges Weakland with failing to apologize. I suggest that you contact SNAP Wisconsin if you think Weakland is being judged unfairly.

Donate to the Archdiocese.My husband made me stop the final few payments on a multiyear pledge after he read in the paper that our Archdiocese was spending money to fight laws meant to give victims of sexual abuse more time to sue in court. My husband really, really didn't like that. I am also not thrilled that my Archdiocese is closing Catholic schools but seemed to put a ton of resources into the "Fortnight of Freedom". It seems unfortunate we had money for the latter and not the former. So now I give the money I used to give to the Archdiocese directly to poor parishes. And I giving more to my own parish as well now that i don't give to the Archdiocese.

Hey Jean, I agree with you: "Seems to me that Grants identifying blind obedience/collusion with corruption in high places here and Eugene Ms piece on the Dolan-Donohue-Anderson troika are good starts.I no longer give to the bishops appeal (and he knows why if he reads his mail).And we can pray, certainly."Claire, I also think you identified some excellent protest gestures:"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."I actually think that numerous lay people have risen to the challenge as best they can. Bravo. More power to those who have not given up on change. People like both of you, and others, have not given in to the sinfulness of the status quo. In addition to this, I think we need prophetic voices from the pulpit. We need priests and deacons and bishops who are willing to break ranks and name the actual demons that are driving this thing. And I don't mean dish out the usual excuses: secularism and the media, our permissive society, etc. etc. etc. I mean naming the demon of clericalism, and the worship of authority and success, and the weakening of moral fiber because we put the perpetuation of institutional power ahead of the needs of vulnerable people and demands of justice. These things are sins. (Sorry, Jean, you're right about the Catholic guilt, I guess!) If these sinful habits weren't firmly in place, the first instance a child was touched, somebody would have been there to say "Hey, stop that" and they would have been backed up to the hilt. We know that's not what happened, and it's still not to be taken for granted.Our shepherds are not only shrugging themselves, but they seem to feel no pressure to keep us, their people, from complicity in these sins. That's my view. We become complicit when we get used to it, when we "take refuge in the impossibility of changing the unjust situation," and shrug or wink or throw up our hands, or whatever. For the sake of the moral life of Catholics, we've got to change this dynamic. No ideal solutions are on my mind, but I think that the collective wisdom of the Church can come up with something better than what we have to date.

Jim Pauwels,Unfortunately, I can not access the article you reference. Could you email the text to me? Thanks.

I gave up giving to the bishop's fund 3 years ago when I realized that the NY state bishops had hired a PR firm to lobby for them in the NYS senate. A Child Victims Bill has passed several times in the Assembly. It adds five years to the current statue of limitations on child abuse claims and allows for a one year window when victims from before that limit can make a criminal and civil complaint. It has never been taken up in the senate, due in large part to the lobbying by the bishops hired hands. Since I had been e-mailing and writing letters to state legislators on behalf of this bill, I had to ask myself why I was still giving to an entity that was aggressively lobbying against what I was lobbying for. The money I gave yearly to the bishop's fund, I now divide among groups I see that are doing God's work. Most are Catholic, some are not. These are dark times in the church. The only power the laity has is the witholding of money. No money, no power. A small step, but a necessary one. I can only hope that many others follow.

Frank G. --Yes, Weakland behaved badly with about the abusive priests. But he has admitted it in detail under oath. As to his affair, I'm not so sure that an affair, whether with a man or woman, should automatically and finally disqualify a priest/bishop. Depends on the circumstances, repentence, etc. It's the toleration of the use of children that is such a heinous fault. Actually, I think that many of the abusive priests have severe mental problems, which lessens their culpability. So I view the actions and inactions in the cover-ups as as serious and even more serious than the sins of the crazy priests. (No, I don't think that *all* of the abusers are crazy, but some are, and many are neurotic to the point that culpability is probably lessened somewhat.)As to SNAP, I don't know it's latest pronouncements, and at does seem unforgiving. However, what I've read indicates that Archbishop Weakland is truly contrite. Most significantly, his resignation shows it. (I might ask you -- why do you think he is insincere? Might there be some bias there??)The case that really drives me up the wall is that of C. Law. That such an administrator should be rewarded for his sins instead of being fired is jaw-droppingly unbelievable -- except that it did happen and it continues to give the worst sort of scandal after 10 years. It's like responding to Bernie Madoff, "Oh well, boys will be boys".

It would be pharisaical to think, "I could never and would never make Finn's mistake" and it is unhelpful to demonize him with overheated rhetoric. DPierre makes a point worth considering even if it risks mitigating the convenient picture of Finn as a baddie: "Lets see here: two computer technicians a diocesan lawyer a monsignor a vice-chancellor a psychiatric doctor and a deacon ALL allegedly saw the disturbing images from Fr. Ratigans computer, but NONE of them officially alerted law enforcement. Why not?!? The Graves report said all the people who saw the images should have called the police. Yet Bishop Finn, who stated he never saw the images, was the one who took the hit."To say Finn's bad judgment of people makes him unfit to be a bishop is rather sweeping. Who has perfect judgment in dealing with people? Who can even be sure of having good or fairly good judgment? And there is no interviewing process to examine bishops on their judgment of people.

Accountability is surely missing among those in high places, particularity bishops.

It doesn't take perfect judgment to realize, when you receive a long letter from a parish school principle warning you about a priest's inappropriate behavior toward kids -- which includes the fact that parents found girls panties in a planter in the priest's yard -- followed by news from your vicar general that the same priest had potentially illegal photos of naked children on his computer, nearly ten years after Dallas, that the priest poses a threat. Finn didn't ask to see the photos? That was irresponsible. As were his restrictions on Ratigan. No effort was made to monitor his Internet use. Don't forget, Ratigan left a suicide note apologizing for the harm he'd done to children. What sentient being wouldn't interpret that at the very least as an indication that the guy was dangerous? Even when Finn learned that Ratigan was ignoring the light restrictions, he did nothing more than scold him by phone. Finn was found guilty because he agreed to stipulated facts that amounted to an admission of guilt. He is the bishop. The final authority in the diocese. And his failure to report and rein in Ratigan led to Ratigan's commission of more crimes.

"Accountability is surely missing...."Jeb,It is, and what complicates this is that Bishop Finn has the support of his younger priests. Are they more charitable in their judgment, do they themselves have the conservative qualities attributed to the bishop (and thus admire him, detect a bias against him because of his conservative nature), or do they just want to leave final judgment to posterity? It is hard to say. O thing for sure: if the younger clergy are supporting him, he will stay put.

Clergy, at least some clergy, don't start from a position of objectivity. We feel bonds of loyalty to our bishops. In many ways, these bonds are good things, and serve the church well. It's not that different from the bonds of loyalty that most of us feel toward members of our family, or that a soldier may fell toward her commanding officer. I do think that clergy should be granted some - not unlimited, but some - latitude when their loyalty to their bishop is put to the test.If the priest or deacon or bishop is a person of integrity, then presenting him the truth in love will help open his eyes and open his heart. It may take several attempts :-). On the other hand, fierce frontal attacks elicit a circle-the-wagons mentality in a lot of people, including some clergy.

Jim P, I don't think there's anything to be proud of in tribal loyalty - it's a purely self-serving device that privileges the well-being of the in-group against the well-being of all others. Ideally, the church (like the military) shouldn't exist to perpetuate itself - its purpose is to serve the very people it is instead preying upon.

James Chichetto and Jim Pauwels,I assume youve read Grants comments -- the one that immediately preceded yours, and the earlier ones. Would you say that theyre truthful, accurate? If so, how could the loyalty of the younger clergy ever be a reason for not removing Finn? As Tina Turner might say, whats loyalty got to do with it, when someone has done what Finn has done, and failed to do what hes failed to do? Doesnt a tipping point exist, a point at which one declares, Enough already! He simply has to go. We have to do the right thing, regardless of whether the younger clergy likes it.

Gene - for myself, I'm not arguing that Finn should stay. I agree that there is such a thing as a tipping point, a point beyond which clergy, or anyone, needs to set aside loyalty to the church, for the good of the church. If that point has been reached in Finn's diocese, then some of his clergy may need to be *helped* to realize that. In my view, the path to achieve that is to tell the truth in love. I see Grant's post and his comments here as exercises in truth-telling. That is very powerful.

Jim, You wrote, I agree that there is such a thing as a tipping point, a point beyond which clergy, or anyone, needs to set aside loyalty to the church, for the good of the church.If they were to do that, I dont think it would amount to setting aside loyalty to the church. It would mean, instead, setting aside loyalty to a person precisely in order to be loyal to the church.

I maintain that Bill Donohue and his ilk are the foundational cause of the "Bishops Abuse Scandal. It is lay Catholics like him who blindly support the "Apostolic Hierarchy" with their words and money who are the true perpetrators of the criminal sodomy of children.The hierarchy of the Roman church would have a much more difficult time of defending itself if the laity was united in their abhorence of the crimes that the bishops have committed. So the laity who continue to support the Abuse of Power by all the bishops are abetting the continuation of a bishop's power to resume the secret practice of covering up crimes whenever they decide to do it again.The power to keep scandals secret continues to be systemic to the entire hierarchy. The so called "reforms" are cosmetic. In Philadelphia accusations were never sent to the "hand-picked review board." The pope in Rome immediately gets rid of Bishop Morris of Australia for even mentioning the future possibility of a married priesthood or women priests, but refuses to accept the resignation of Irish bishops who covered up crimes. What is wrong with this picture?Bishops on every continent (except Antarctica) have covered up the sexual abuse of children in over 26 countries. Most child victims were sodomized because bishops worldwide covered up the crimes and perpetuted the abuse of additional victims.There is too much evidence for Rome and the Pope to claim they did not know.Bill Donohue's words should be criminal in that his lies are helping the Bishops continue to deny their Abuse of Power. The underlying System of Abuse continues to exist. Unless the power system is changed, the sodoming of our future children and grandchildren will happen again. How do I know that? Because the hierarchy has all the power in the Roman Church and obedience to that power is absolutely required all the way to "infallible" Rome.If you don't think what I say is true, then I would ask you "What does your Bishop do with ALL the money you send him?" Truth is you not only do not know, but no one can find out unless your bishop lets you. There is no one looking over his shoulder checking up on him, nor will he let any "independent" audit occur. The bottom line is the laity are powerless. but the worst part of the laity are lackeys like Bill Dondhue. They continue to play a roll in the sodomizing of children.

'It would mean, instead, setting aside loyalty to a person precisely in order to be loyal to the church.'Right, Gene. As JAk never ceases to remind us, the bishops are *not* the Church. They're part of the Church, no less, no more.

"Enough already. He simply has to go."Yes, certainly. But how does one convey that to his younger priests?

"Yes, certainly. But how does one convey that to his younger priests?"Maybe something like, "This is a good and sincere man who thought he could handle and control a dangerous predator. He is not equipped to make the hard decisions a bishop must make in order to protect the most vulnerable members of the church."

"But how does one convey that to his younger priests?"That's easy. Rome does it. The younger clergy prone to support Finn surely would not balk if the decision came from Rome. As for the mechanics of it, that's easy too. They send in a co-adjutor bishop, then take Finn aside and persuade him it's for the good of the faithful that he resign. Once he agrees, he himself will explain to his younger clergy that they must all look to the greater good and not worry about him. Period. It's finished.But it will never happen. They don't take the crisis seriously. Judging from earlier events, I wouldn't rule out the possibility that Finn has already asked to resign and was forbidden by Rome.

"If they were to do that, I dont think it would amount to setting aside loyalty to the church. It would mean, instead, setting aside loyalty to a person precisely in order to be loyal to the church."You're right. I meant to write, " ... setting aside loyalty to the bishop for the good of the church"

"But how does one convey that to his younger priests?Take them to my old neighborhood where the Russian Orthodox priests always in cassocks, beards and birettas[?] with congregations of about a dozen babushkas, and show them the Roman future

Each day that Finn remains in office, each day that twisted hacks for the hierarchy like Donohue appear before the public to defend priests' indefensible rape, sodomy and exploitation of children, each day that bishops escape their accountability for the corruption of the priesthood, is another nail in the clerical coffin, another shovel of dirt on the hierarchy's grave.In a perverse kind of way, Finn's clinging to his office is a Christmas gift to Catholics that keeps on giving. He's dragging them all down with him.Jesus scolded the sign-seeking Pharisees and Sadducees of his day for not reading the "signs of the times." Catholics today are witnessing the slow-motion, painful death of the feudal celibate priesthood- the signs have been all around us for a very long time. Matthew quotes Jesus: "A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.What kind of Jesus movement and church will emerge from the belly of the beast in the 21st century?LET THE PEOPLE DECIDE!

Rita's comment is correct. We in Dallas experienced a like situation in the 1990's over the Rudy Kos trial. The initial judgment was over $31 mil; eventually negotiated down to around $18 mil. Insurance companies covered roughly 50%. The diocese had to make up the difference - e.g. selling land that had been earmarked for future parishes or needed schools for minority populations; saddling parishes with higher payments/*taxes*, etc.This was ten years before the Dallas Charter. Kos and the initial cover-up occurred before his time and yet he made subsequent decisions that made him a part of the cover-up; excuses; etc. (there are indications that his witness testimony is contradicted by both facts and other testimonies. Both he and his chancellor publically stated that the parents were at fault, etc.)During the trial, significant and powerful catholic lay folks met with the bishop and (by their written account) he agreed to resign/retire at the trial's conclusion. The bishop reneged on that promise. Rome eventually assigned a co-adjutor but the bishop fought this (per sources, leveraging his personal friendship with Ratzinger). After a few years of heightened animosity between these two - bishop/co-adjutor, Rome moved the co-adjutor to New Jersey. Rome then allowed the bishop to remain until his 75th birthday.From a diocesan perspective, that 10+ year period has been tracked and documented - no serious catholic gave any sizable donation, trust fund, etc. during that period....many vocally stated that they would wait until he was gone. Pastors hunkered down; expansion plans; building projects, etc. were either held up or postponed. (one exception - the bishop did get his cathedral renovated; finished the bell tower that had never been done; and added expensive bells). Diocesan morale remained negative waiting for his retirement. There were public calls for him to step down but it was skewed to look like his staying was a sign of loyalty and integrity to his calling/position.This is hypocrisy - the church is put on hold to play to papal politics, personal egos, power plays, etc.

Rita,You wrote, it will never happen. . . . I wouldnt rule out the possibility that Finn has already asked to resign and was forbidden by Rome."If thats the case, its very disappointing. Why would they forbid him to resign? Honestly, I dont understand. And if they did do that, do you think theres any similarity between this and another story one often hears: that Cardinal Law had wanted to resign earlier than he actually did, but was forbidden by Rome?

Gene,You are correct that Law wanted to resign earlier on his first trip to Rome. Batista Re headed the Congregation for Bishops and was against it, as no doubt were others in Rome as well. The answer was no, tough it out. The fear was that Law's resignation might turn out to be the first domino.When Law got back to Boston, things calmed down a bit and it looked as though he just might make it through. Then the repulsive Foley documents and others were released; Judge Constance Sweeney said the evidence in documents showed Law's earlier statements about his record did not reconcile (practically calling him a liar); and those documents lost Law his die hard major donor support. That last was the nail in the coffin so to speak, except that a cushy retirement awaited him.Bill deHaas' recount of the experience in Dallas is another sad chapter in Rome's power games.I doubt that Finn has already offered his resignation though. He does not think he did anything wrong, so in imitation of the suffering Lord, he bravely carries on.

And let's not forget the Irish bishops who resigned under pressure but whose resignations were turned down by Rome: Bishop Raymond Field and Bishop Eamonn Walsh.

Again, thank you, Grant, for your powerful rebuttal of Donohue's distortions of reality at the opening of the thread, and at 12/06/2012 - 8:44 pm.

Gene P: "Honestly, I dont understand."Neither do I.Sadly, I keep coming back to Eugene Kennedy: We have power and you do not..."

Gene,I'd be speculating to say why. I suppose the domino effect is feared. I also think there is resistance to the idea of moral accountability for oversight. The resignations of bishops (Antigonish, Milwaukee) who actually performed immoral acts themselves were accepted. Carolyn has spoken to your question about Cardinal Law, and Claire's addition of the two Irish prelates whose resignations were not accepted is apt. There are others too, I am told. The costs, as Bill DeH. has outlined, are enormous. I share your sadness.

Accountability. We learned about that around Boy Scouts' campfires :"If you don't bear the cross, then you can't wear the crown" (From "Do Lord, O Do Lord, O Do Remember me")Resignation. What kind of a mindset does it take for a man who feels that, to do the right thing, he has to resign, but doesn't do so because someone forbids him to do it? Why didn't he resign and let the Vatican refuse to accept it? "You've done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?"

Crystal: this tribal loyalty is a direct outgrowth of the knowledge that Big Daddy has your career in his hands. If you want to move up and possibly have access to a touch of the scarlet, then you have to play along with whatever Big Daddy wants you to do. And above all you must exhibit loyalty to him no matter what.Once the priest with integrity gets over this sense of ambition and possibly entitlement, then and only then will he do the right things.

To try to put some kind of a positive Advent spin on all of this:On the Mystery of the Incarnation by Denise Levertov (19231997)It's when we face for a momentthe worst our kind can do, and shudder to knowthe taint in our own selves, that awecracks the mind's shell and enters the heart:not to a flower, not to a dolphin,to no innocent formbut to this creature vainly sureit and no other is god-like, God(out of compassion for our uglyfailure to evolve) entrusts,as guest, as brother,the Word.

Jimmy,The Levertov poem is ravishing. Thanks for sharing it. I love her poetry, what of it I know, but haven't read this before. What collection is this from?

Wonderful, wonderful poem. Thank you.

Jimmy, wow! Thank you!

Beautiful - thanks, Jim.

Catholic News Agency says "Criticisms of Bishop Finn described as misleading, dishonest"By Michelle Bauman --- with the usual Donohue quotes and those from supportive priests: "Although Msgr. Blacet believes the attacks against Bishop Finn are unwarranted, he is not discouraged, but rather sees an analogy to the sufferings and accusations that Christ bore during his passion..." As I feared, Finn as the suffering Christ. now, Grant's rebuttal here provides much needed counterpoint and truth-telling, provided my link is accepted.

Thank you very much, Jim. Have you considered forwarding a copy to Donohue for his possible use in his Advent stream-of-consciousness effluvium? Imagine his impact if he used it as you did.

Carolyn - saw the same post. Msgr is 91 or 92 years old. Don't mean to pick on the elderly but not sure that I place much credence in his opinion - he is entitled to his opinion but let's not generalize or make some type of clerical statement.

"Most child victims were sodomized because bishops worldwide covered up the crimes and perpetuated the abuse of additional victims."(1) only a small percentage of the abuse victims were actually sodomized.(2) how can you substantiate that most crimes against minors (rather than many; or some) were due to episcopal coverups?

"lets not forget the Irish bishops who resigned under pressure but whose resignations were turned down by Rome: Bishop Raymond Field and Bishop Eamonn Walsh."Martin Drennan courageously withstood this pressure, rightly.Donal Murray should have withstood too. Now people realize the charges against him were unsound and he is praised in the latest report for his handling of the abuse crisis.Don't jump on bandwagons.

Note that the Vatican has trouble finding anyone who wants to be a bishop.

It's from "The Journey With Jesus: Poems and Prayers."

DPierre's sharp criticism (@12/6 9:50AM) and personal attack against Grant Gallicho must not go unremarked. Charging Grant with deceit, guile, being unbothered by the exploitation of children, distortion and blatant dishonesty is unwarranted and unwelcome here.Some background on Pierre may be helpful to discern his approach. I believe he and Donohue have much in common."Dave Pierre is a journalist who operates, which examines anti-Catholicism and bias in todays media, and the author of two books, Double Standard: Abuse Scandals and the Attack on the Catholic Church and Catholic Priests Falsely Accused: The Facts, The Fraud, The Stories. Dave is also a contributing writer to, a blog of the Media Research Center covering media bias."Below the interview with Pierre, is this helpful comment:Dr Margaret Kennedy March 13th, 2012 at 10:06 pm"I have extreme difficulty understanding Dave Pierres statistics regarding alleged false allegations. (32% in Boston) Even Father Stephen Rossetti, himself a Catholic Priest and therapist who ran a treatment centre for clergy offenders said in Rome in February that 95% of allegations are true! the John Jay research states only 1.5% allegations are false and most studies find the percentage of false allegations are between 2-3%.I do think other voices, other research on this whole area needs to be heard by the ACP. Dave Pierre is a journalist, does his experience trump that of criminal researchers (John Jay) and priest Therapists (Rossetti)Weird."A response to Dave Pierres book on falsely-accused Catholic priests... 3/18/12In the interest of transparency: 3/19/12I believe Grant deserves much better.

How the complexity of our relation to the church hierarchy is interfering with our prayer.In my parish the prayers of the faithful are prepared by parishioners. Today's prayer: "For the pope, bishops, priests and deacons - the representatives of Christ on earth - as they teach us the truths of God's law" (or something like that). Upon hearing: "for the pope, bishops, priests and deacons", I wondered with unease what was coming next, but reminded myself that of course they needed our prayers. Then I heard "the representatives of Christ on earth", thought to myself that it is not just in them that we see Christ, but started wondering what "representatives" really meant and whether I might be able to assent to what was being said. That train of thought threw me off and by the time the third part of the sentence came (which I can't remember word for word), I was too confused to decide whether to join in, and my vague mumble was between a response or non-response. Also, was there an agenda behind the prayer? Was it a coded way to ask us to pray for their campaign against gay marriage? Or on the contrary, was it a suggestion that we should follow them only when they themselves are faithfully following Christ? These days, nothing is simple when pope and bishops are mentioned in the prayer of the faithful.

Re: Its from The Journey With Jesus: Poems and Prayers. be clear for those who haven't looked at the link yet. The link is to the source where I saw the poem. It isn't to any collection of Levertov's.Here is a link to her thoughts:

Jim,Along the line of the role of imagination in faith, see "The Healing Imagination" by Ann Ulanov, a penetrating study. Fictions of real possibilities..."a central resource of the life of the psyche and the life of the spirit"...The last chapter on Resurrection is masterful.Sample it at Resurrection:

co-written with husband Barry Ulanov -- sorry