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Donohue repeats his “no porn” exoneration of Finn

"I know it when I see it," Justice Potter Stewart famously wrote in a 1964 pornography case. Evidently, Bill Donohue doesn't.

Bill's got his knickers in a twist because the New York Times has stated that Kansas City Bishop Robert Finn's criminal conviction “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.” Asserteth Donohue: "That statement is factually wrong."

He then goes on to argue, as he has before, that what was discovered on Ratigan's computer was not pornography. So what was Finn convicted of? He doesn't say.

Factually speaking, Ratigan did have child porn. Here's a passage from the Graves Report, commissioned by the diocese of K.C. itself, describing a series of the priest's photos as described by diocesan information systems manager Julie Creech:

The first showed a little girl, face visible, standing and holding a blanket. In a “staged sequence,” the photos depicted a girl lying in a bed, from the waist down, and focused on the crotch. The girl was wearing a diaper, but with each photo, the diaper was moved gradually to expose her genitals. By the last photo, her genitals were fully exposed. According to Ms. Creech, there were approximately six to eight pictures in this sequence of photos; two displayed fully exposed genitals and one displayed her fully exposed buttocks. The little girl’s face was not visible in the staged sequence, but due to her apparent physical size and the fact that the photos were in the same folder, Ms. Creech assumed the photos were of the same little girl whose face appeared in the initial picture.

That's not just pornography, Bill, it's the kind of child abuse that is supposed to get a priest reported to the civil authorities. How do I know this? It's right there in the USCCB's Rome-approved "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People," which mandates compliance with civil reporting statutes for the "grave delict" of "the acquisition, possession, or distribution by a cleric of pornographic images of minors under the age of fourteen, for purposes of sexual gratification, by whatever means or using any technology." 

It was for failure to report Ratigan for such acquisition and possession, as mandated by Missouri law, that Finn was convicted. The conviction, let us note, amounted to a guilty plea. Finn stipulated the facts of the case and the judge declared him guilty.

Let us also note, for the record, that Finn pretends to a great awareness of the evils of pornography. In 2007, he treated his flock to a lengthy pastoral letter on the subject, and did not hesitate to issue such severe judgments as the following:

Pornography harms others. It exploits other people, usually women but also men and children. To engage in pornography is to support this terrible and scarring exploitation. To participate financially in this contributes to an industry that perpetuates a grave moral evil.

Pornography is not harmless; it is a grave, dehumanizing evil.

It's been three months since Finn's conviction, and (as the Times article reveals) there are even priests in his diocese willing to say publicly that he should be gone. But neither his fellow bishops nor the Vatican has uttered so much as a peep about the first American hierarch to be convicted of covering up a case of clerical sexual abuse. 

It's called hypocrisy. And we know it when we see it.

Topics: Faith, Leaders & Institutions

Comments

  1. Bill Donohue and Karl Rove have something in common; they are rapidly becoming irrelevant.  Their day has come and gone.

  2. Excellent, Mark. Thank you.The RCC continues to act pro institution/clergy rather than pro children.

  3. I would hate to have Bill Donohue’s job. I couldn’t and wouldn’t be paid to defend dysfunctional sex freaks.

  4. Anytime I force myself to read Donohue’s rants, I often am left wondering…

    “If Donohue can justify the unjustifiable and defend the indefenceable…

    Does it compell one to wonder, just what is in the Basement and Closets of Bill Donohues house and life”? ? ?

  5. Thank you, Mark Silk!!

    I saw Donohue’s broadside but just did not have time or the stomach anymore to research links to the Graves Report and all the other sources necessary to obliterate any sense of veracity in Donohue’s rants.

    Again, congratulations to Laurie Goodstein and John Eligon at the NYTimes for exposing the extensive response to the failure of Benedict to remove Finn from office.

    This clip is revealing: “But during the meeting, Bishop Finn denied that he had done anything wrong, according to two priests there.”

    The problem is none of the bishops complicit in protecting predators believes in his heart that he did anything wrong. Hey, no one ever intended any “harm,” so it is just an unfortunate lapse in judgment.

    The history of Law’s resignation is instructive on what it takes for Rome to act. It was not the 53 priests who published a letter favoring his removal, nor the demonstrations of survivors and their supporters, VOTF’s call for resignation, nor apparently any fear of indictment, given MA’s weak child protection laws.

    It was MONEY and the threat of its loss from major donors like Peter Lynch of Fidelity. They passed the word they would help financially rescue the church in Boston, but only if Law were removed. That is the most convincing word to me about the matter.

    I believe as long as major donors back Finn, he stays. Petition drives, frustrated priests and laity have no impact. The conservative Catholics of Opus Dei stripe, a wealthy, connected cult IMHO have the edge at this point; which shows their true priorities: Donohue-like spin and a convicted criminal come first. (Finn is in Opus Dei.)

  6. Putting Donohue’s comments aside, I don’t know why Silk keeps harping on the fact that other bishops and even USCCB should condemn Finn.  That is not their role or within their purview.

  7. The case was about the definition of obscenity, not pornography.  Something can be pornographic without being legally obscene.  Also of note: Stewart later identified that line as the most regrettable thing he had done in his career.

  8. Iawnerd,  Thank you for the clarification; that changes everything (LOL)!  I now view Donohue as creditable, and I will seek Bishop Finn’s counsel the next time I need moral advice.

  9. Well written Mark. To accompany what you write, it’s amazing to me that time and again Donohoe, Finn, an anyone in authority who remain silent on this (the same crime essentially that Finn was convicted of) seem to forget that this life is short and an accounting in the next one will come. “The petition of the poor goes from their mouth to God’s ears, and his judgment comes.” Sirach 21:5

  10. I read the Graves report.  Then I washed my hands in bleach.  It was reported that Finn’s defense was that what was on the computer was not pornography, so it did not have to be reported.  GIven that Fr. Ratigan had already been convicted of producing that porn, that was closing the barn door after the pervert had already escaped.

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