Friday, October 14, 2011

Arrest one, instruct 434

The bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., just found out the hard way that holy water won't ward off the cops.

He just got arrested. For the usual, sad reason these days.

NPR posts this story from The Associated Press:

Kansas City's Roman Catholic Bishop is facing a criminal charge for not telling police about child pornography that was found on a priest's computer.

Kansas City-St. Joseph Catholic Diocese Bishop Robert Finn pleaded not guilty Friday to a misdemeanor count of failing to report suspected child abuse. Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said Finn had "reasonable cause" to suspect a child had been abused after learning of the images, and should have immediately alerted police according to state law.

The fact that this is a misdemeanor "should not diminish the seriousness of the charge," Baker said. "Now that the grand jury investigation has resulted in this indictment, my office will pursue this case vigorously because it is about protecting children. I want to ensure there are no future failures to report resulting in other unsuspecting victims."

Finn has acknowledged that he and other diocese officials knew for five months about hundreds of "disturbing" photos of children on a computer used by the Rev. Shawn Ratigan, but did not take the matter to police. The diocese also faces one count of failing to report suspected child abuse.

Finn has said that St. Patrick's School Principal Julie Hess raised concerns more than a year ago that Ratigan was behaving inappropriately around children, but that he did not read her written report until after Ratigan was charged with three state child pornography counts this spring. Ratigan has pleaded not guilty.

IF HE'S GUILTY, make Finn do time. What we need in instances such as this is a little justice.

In the grand scheme of things, that might be an avenue for mercy for the long-suffering American church. And it might go a long way toward persuading its "shepherds" to actually start acting like such -- and protect the sheep, not the wolves.

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