Wednesday, April 22, 2015


Zero tolerance and over correction seem to walk hand-in-hand. I'm not sure that Bishop Finn should be as vilified as he is about his misdemeanor guilty verdict. Perhaps the Church should have some kind of censure for bishops who have done something like this but don't deserve the "death penalty" in terms of their failure or crime. But who am I to judge?

Zero tolerance and one size fits all does not seem to me to coincide with a Church of Mercy or a Church of common sense. Is Bishop Finn not to be forgiven and should there not have been as a part of some kind of censure from the Church  a public penance and reconciliation?

Is it true that Bishop Finn's traditionalism or so-called conservatism, what most right-minded Catholics would call orthodoxy, is at the root of his removal? If so then we are in big trouble in the short-run, but not in the long run.

But with that said, Philip Lawlor is far from being a progressive shrill has some common sense observations about Bishop Finn's resignation which was requested by the pope.

We have to keep in mind that the sexual abuse scandal's cause was bishops and the mess we are in today is because of bishops who did not screen seminarians properly.  I complained about this when I was in the seminary in the 1970's when my seminary was accused of having less than suitable seminarians and I said, it wasn't the seminary's fault, but the bishops' fault who sent these men to the seminary in the first place thinking the seminary was a place of therapy for broken, needy men.

But then there was an egregious mismanagement of broken priests and a la la land idea they could be cured, healed despite evidence to the contrary and the havoc they were wreaking in dioceses, parishes after parishes and people's lives.

But here is Philip Lawlor's take on Bishop Finn:

The Finn resignation: 10 years too late, bishops face accountability

By Phil Lawler | Apr 21, 2015 

Bishop Finn had to go. When he was convicted on criminal charges, he became the poster boy for the American bishops’ mishandling of the sex-abuse crisis. He was an irresistible target for critics of Catholicism: a walking, talking symbol of episcopal negligence.

The bishop’s defenders have said that he was not properly informed about the Ratigan case. That’s true, but it’s not an adequate defense. They say that his subordinates and counselors gave him bad advice. Also true, but irrelevant. We’ve heard those arguments too many times. The fact remains that when he was alerted to the fact that a troubled priest had engaged in inappropriate activities with young children, Bishop Finn did not take prompt and decisive action. He let the problem fester—as so many other bishops have let so many other problems fester—with disastrous results for everyone involved.

In Bishop Finn’s case this failure was particularly inexcusable because the results of negligence were so very well known. He could not get away with mumbling inanities about a “learning curve,” about not recognizing the severity of pedophilia, as other bishops had done a decade earlier. By 2011, every American bishop should have known that if there was one failure he absolutely must avoid, it was the failure to curb sexual abuse.

The announcement of Bishop Finn’s resignation comes, appropriately, on the same day as the news that the US bishops spent nearly $3 billion in the past decade to settle sex-abuse lawsuits. That reckoning understates the financial cost of the sex-abuse scandal, since it does not include the millions of dollars quietly paid out before 2004. And the financial cost, in turn, does not adequately summarize the staggering damage done to the Church. How many young lives were damaged? How many thousands were alienated from the faith? How many opportunities for evangelization were lost forever?

The truly remarkable thing about today’s announcement is not that Bishop Finn was forced to step down, but that he was the first American bishop forced to step down. (Cardinal Law left voluntarily in 2002; in fact when he originally submitted his resignation, it was declined.) Dozens of other bishops were as negligent, or worse. But they remained in office for years as the Church hierarchy came, ever so slowly, to the conclusion that even prelates must be held accountable.

Now that necessary conclusion has been reached. Last November, when the circumspect Cardinal Sean O’Malley told a nationwide television audience that Bishop Finn’s status was “a question that the Holy See needs to address urgently,” the embattled bishop must have known that his days as leader of the Kansas City diocese were numbered.

For the many Catholics who admire Bishop Finn’s strong defense of Catholic teaching, including myself, his case is tragic. For others who opposed his pastoral initiatives—such as the National Catholic Reporter, which, Bishop Finn had confirmed, had lost the right to describe itself as a “Catholic” publication—his departure has provided an occasion for unseemly delight. But the bishop’s staunch orthodoxy is not the issue here.

Nor has orthodoxy been the primary problem through the whole long, sad history of the sex-abuse scandal. Bishops from both the ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ wings of the US hierarchy have been exposed as negligent, or worse, in their handling of abusive priests. It is true that sympathetic reporters in the liberal secular media have spared a few prelates (Cardinal Mahony, Archbishop Weakland) from the grilling they deserved, while savaging others like Bishop Finn. Still, the bishops’ malfeasance was not caused by the media coverage; they brought the problem on themselves. And in the process they brought the problem on the faithful, on the universal Church.

In June 2002, when I attended the fateful meeting of the US bishops’ conference in Dallas, I noticed a broad consensus among the reporters in the crowded press room. Virtually all of us—liberals and conservatives, veterans and neophytes, Catholic and secular journalists—marveled together that the bishops didn’t “get it;” they did not realize that the American public saw them as the problem. It has taken more than a decade for that realization slowly to sink in. But now at last we have an unmistakable signal that the Vatican is ready to hold bishops accountable.

Many questions remain to be answered. Will other prelates follow Bishop Finn out the chancery doors? Will the critics of Catholicism pick a new target of opportunity? Will retired bishops whose negligence has been demonstrated still be treated with deference, as if nothing happened? Will Pope Francis continue to defend his appointment of a Chilean bishop accused of ignoring abuse, even as lay members of his sex-abuse commission threaten to resign?

And in the future, will bishops be held responsible for proper handling of their duties in areas other than sexual abuse? Once accountability becomes the norm, all sorts of changes are possible.


Anonymous said...

And who does Pope Francis pick as his special appointment to the Upcoming synod, Cardinal Daneels! It is crystal clear that this pope has no problem with anything a liberal bishop has done. But if a bishop is orthodox and actually believes the Catholic Faith his days are numbered. The knives are already out for Cardinal Pell. Then who is next? Cordelieone, Muller, Morlino, Sample.

Anonymous said...

"Shill," not "shrill."

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I don't see Phil as a stooge to prop the pope that is why I didn't use shill. I used shrill because so much of the rhetoric in comments here and elsewhere are shrill, but not Phil's in the tone of his article:

shrill (shrÄ­l) adj. shrill·er, shrill·est. 1. High-pitched and piercing in tone or sound: the shrill wail of a siren. 2. Producing a sharp, high-pitched tone or ...


JusadBellum said...

The problem with zero tolerance is not the intention, it's the known, predictable, cynical outcomes in policy and procedures with respect to both canon law and civil law.

Now, it's "guilty until exhaustively proven innocent". Now, just a whiff of an accusation by anyone can instantly destroy any pastor in ways that would never fly if the person was a public school teacher, a civil employee, a politician.

Remember when it was not the evidence but the seriousness of the charge? Good times, good times... only of course now such a slogan can not be invoked for certain politicians evah... but for Catholics? A-OK.

The potential for abuse of innocents with the resulting scandal of "they're all bad but especially the good ones" is huge.

Being a priest is hard enough. Being a priest with 2+ parishes to care for is hard enough. But being a priest in a system where an anonymous tip can get you instantly removed from ministry, your name matched to "accused pedophile" and thus ruined for life? That's a cross none of us lay folk and no other clergy of other religions have had to deal with.

So what will happen practically?

Bishops will be on a hair trigger to drop the hammer on any priest at any time. Good bye to the fatherly relationship.

Priests will increasingly walk on egg shells. Surveillance of their own persons will become ubiquitous to protect themselves...their time will be regimented and their whereabouts verified by witnesses at all times...

Lay people will make them the scape goats while society continues its march towards LOWERING the age of consent for teens (boys and girls) as society becomes to assume everyone is always sexually active behind closed doors. Guilty until proven otherwise.

John said...

Bowing to the wishes of the world, a world that demands respect which rightly belongs to God alone, is sinful. That our leaders, our "Fathers" in religion, are so willing to cater to the fashion of the times is a tragedy not only for us but also for them as well. They hand us over to the culture to do with us as it will.

Judas Iscariot comes mind.

Anonymous said...

"..a progressive shrill..." Is meaningless. You could have said "a shrill progressive" or "a progressive shill," but since shrill is an adjective, "a progressive shrill" is meaningless.

rcg said...

This hillbilly knew you were using the wrong word for effect.

I agree with Jusadbellum that there is a risk of swinging too far the other way in response. Getting a response still seems frightfully slow. And what source of information does one trust? This is the sort of accusation that must be proven false and not just presumed innocent.

JusadBellum said...

No, Progressive Shrill is redundant. Like "liberal Media".

In every hot button issue, the progressive's response is 'shrill'.

Global climate change: hyperventilating about how we're all gonna die unless more power and money is given to the voodoo priests/bureaucracy which will.... maybe placate the volcano gods.

Gun control: hyperventilating about how more guns will increase random murders since the tools alone make people prone to violence.

Minorities: demanding equality in theory but hyperventilating whenever a minority person is held accountable to the same standards expected of white males (be it in the army, police, fire department or just how to comport themselves in public).

Sexual revolution: demanding more permissiveness on the one hand as essential to their very physical existence...but then hyperventilating when their own culture produces increased porn, rape, abuse, and de-personalization (all blamed on conservative morals of course).

Economy: demanding 15/hr entry level jobs as the solution to poverty but then hyperventilating when small businesses close or automate thus wiping out entry level jobs.

Pick your poison and those who pride themselves on being "progressive" are predictably "shrill". In everything it's the degree of their raw emotion and feelings that trump any rational set of arguments.

Thus we get "trigger warnings" because some have been offended by non-PC speech when it was their glory from 1965 to 2005 to 'stick it to the man' in as egregiously offensive a fashion as they could imagine with nary a bit of worry of offending conservatives. See, because our feelings don't matter while theirs is all that matter.

I'm all in favor of zero tolerance laws IF they are equally applied to politicians, political parties, local, county, city, state, and federal bureaucrats for CIVIL liability.

If a cop molests someone the city ultimately pays the bill. If the cop personally had to pay things would change. If a federal bureaucrat abuses his authority it's rare for the federal government to be successfully sued. But if the individual bureaucrat was liable to civil penalties..... things would change.

Until we demand that all citizens be treated equally, I'm not in favor of singling out just Catholic priests and bishops.

Anonymous said...

Well, someone had to be scourged, humiliated and die on a cross for the pedophilia scandal, while the atheists cry out "Crucify him! Crucify him! I'm sure they'd like to see a whole parade of such crucifixions. The mob wants blood.

I hope this horrific injustice to Bishop Finn gives him merit in the eyes of God. The holy suffer still.

Dymphna said...

If Finn waiting six months to call the police then he had to go despite all his good works. If you are going to fight the bad guys you have to be like the apostles after Pentecost. The bishop gave his enemies a meat cleaver so of course they used it on him.