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Kansas City diocese broke its own rules in abuse cases, report finds

September 01, 2011

Church leaders in Kansas City violated the rules of their own diocese in responding to sex-abuse complaints, an independent investigation has concluded.

Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City commissioned an independent review of diocesan policies in response to angry public criticism after a local priest, Father Shawn Ratigan, was arrested on child-pornography charges. The review, led by former prosecutor Todd Graves, found that diocesan officials ignored their own policies in responding to complaints about Ratigan and another priest accused of abuse, Father Michael Tierney.

In a 141-page report, the investigators said that the vicar general of the diocese, Father Robert Murphy, reviewed charges against Father Ratigan himself, without informing the diocesan review board as required by established procedures. The review also faulted both Father Murphy and Bishop Finn for accepting assurances from Father Ratigan that his behavior would change, rather than invoking more appropriate safeguards.

“Our investigation identified shortcomings, inaction and confusing procedures,” said Graves, who headed the review; “but we believe Bishop Finn and the leadership of the diocese understand the gravity of the issues and take these recommendations seriously.”

Bishop Finn welcomed the report as “comprehensive, thoughtful, and detailed.” He said that the diocese would carry out recommendations aimed at ensuring that “we establish clear, strong and unequivocal procedures for all diocesan personnel and volunteers that ensure the safety of our children today and into the future.”

A Missouri grand jury is currently examining the Ratigan case, and could recommend new charges against diocesan officials for failing to follow established procedures.


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Show 4 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: hartwood01 - Sep. 04, 2011 11:34 PM ET USA

    Absolutely call the cops. Couldn't agree more,GAustin.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 02, 2011 6:25 PM ET USA

    That diocese, and all others, had done better to follow the advice of Bishop Bruskewitz. At the first report of sexual abuse, call the cops. It is a crime. Which is to say, turn the matter over to the civil authorities. This will give the accused all the protection of the legal safeguards of our country. It will also make a false accuser think twice.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 01, 2011 8:03 PM ET USA

    Once again, the drama and compassion was focused upon the wayward clergy--rather than on the flock that he was supposed to lead and protect. I don't get it. I understand that wrong-doers have souls and are entitled to our love--indeed, we are all such in one way or another--but I don't understand focusing on the one and ignoring the many.

  • Posted by: claire5327 - Sep. 01, 2011 6:01 PM ET USA

    "Lead us not into temptation..." How meaningful are those words to us when we say Our Father daily? Don't be afraid to offend people, but do fear offending Our Father it is from Him we have life and one another. Be grateful to Our Father and do as Jesus Our Savor His Only Begotten Son told us to do by following the words of the prayer of "Our Father." May Our Father have mercy on us all, especially on our religious who are weak in Spirit!