The Catholic Left has been trying to unseat Kansas City-St. Joseph Bishop Robert Finn for well over a year. Their effort received another boost today from the New York Times. It deserves a response.
The Times says that Finn’s 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.”
Now anyone who takes such pictures is clearly disturbed. But it also needs to be said that crotch shots are not pornographic. 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. 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 Ratigan’s computer.
On February 23, 1998, a Times editorial railed against those who try to equate “nude photographs of children” with child pornography. So it is more than just a little hypocritical of the Times to now feign indignation over a single photo of a nude child.
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.
About the author: William Donohue
William Donohue is the current president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights in the United States, and has held that position since 1993.