Friday, October 14, 2011

Diocesan Statement Concerning Action of Jackson County Grand Jury

The Jackson County Prosecutor announced this afternoon Grand Jury indictments surrounding the case of Shawn Ratigan. The Grand Jury returned misdemeanor indictments against Kansas City – St. Joseph Bishop Robert W. Finn and the Diocese itself. Each was charged with failure to report suspected child abuse, a Class A misdemeanor carrying a penalty of up to a one year prison term and $1,000 for an individual and up to a $1,000 fine for a corporation. Attorneys for Bishop Finn and the Diocese both entered pleas of not guilty in Jackson County Court.

The following statements were issued by the Diocese and Bishop Finn today.


Statements of the

Most Reverend Robert W. Finn
Bishop of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph

and the
Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph

Action of the Jackson County Grand Jury

Kansas City, Mo., Oct. 14, 2011 -- Bishop Robert Finn and the Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph today acknowledged receipt of the misdemeanor charges brought by the Jackson County Prosecutor.  Jean Paul Bradshaw and Tom Bath, counsel for the diocese, entered a plea of not guilty for the diocese. According to Gerald Handley and J.R. Hobbs, counsel for Bishop Finn, the bishop also entered a plea of not guilty.

“Bishop Finn denies any criminal wrongdoing and has cooperated at all stages with law enforcement, the grand jury, the prosecutor’s office, and the Graves Commission. We will continue our efforts to resolve this matter,” said Gerald Handley, counsel for Bishop Finn.

“In response to these charges Bishop Finn said, “Months ago after the arrest of Shawn Ratigan, I pledged the complete cooperation of the diocese and accountability to law enforcement. We have carried this out faithfully. Diocesan staff and I have given hours of testimony before grand juries, delivered documents, and answered questions fully.”

More importantly, to address the issues that led to this crisis, I reinforced and expanded diocesan procedures. We added the position of ombudsman, effectively moving the ‘gatekeeper function’ outside the Chancery and under the authority of an independent public liaison, a skilled and experienced former prosecutor. I commissioned the Graves Report to accomplish a full independent investigation of the policies and events that led to this crisis.  I ordered the report to be published in its entirety for the sake of full transparency.”

Today, the Jackson County Prosecutor issued these charges against me personally and against the Diocese of Kansas City-St Joseph.  For our part, we will meet these announcements with a steady resolve and a vigorous defense.”

I ask the prayerful support and unity of our priests, our people, the parishes, and the Catholic institutions. With continued dedication, we will persevere in the many good works that are the hallmark of the faithful people of the diocese throughout its 27 counties and nearly 150-year heritage. With ever stronger determination, we will form, teach, and protect children and care for the spiritual and material needs of people who look daily to the diocese for assistance.”

With deep faith, we will weather this storm and never cease to fulfill our mission, even in moments of adversity,” said Bishop Finn.

In addition to full and complete cooperation with all levels of law enforcement, the diocese has taken an array of steps to ensure accountability for the protection of children in diocesan, parish and school programs.

  • June 9 – Engaged Todd Graves, a former U.S. Attorney and national co-chair of the Department of Justice Child Exploitation Working Group, to conduct an independent investigation of events, policies and procedures,
  • June 22 – Expanded diocesan administration with the appointment of Father Joseph Powers as Vicar for Clergy,
  • June 17 – Completed listening sessions with parishioners served by Shawn Ratigan,
  • June 30 – Appointed Jenifer Valenti, a former prosecuting attorney, as ombudsman to field and investigate all reports of suspicious or inappropriate behavior by clergy, diocesan personnel and volunteers,
  • August 15 – Reviewed requirements for the mandatory reporting of abuse and neglect with more than 925 employees and made the training available by video conferencing to others,
  • September 1 – Published the complete findings and recommendations of Graves Bartle Marcus and Garrett.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Luck, Power, and the 99 Percent

From the upcoming edition of The Catholic Key, by Santiago Ramos:

“WE ARE THE 99 Percent” is the online presence ( of the Occupy Wall Street movement which is quickly spreading throughout our major cities. The idea behind the website is simple: to document the precipitous gap between the haves and have-nots in this country. As the homepage says:
We are the 99 percent. We are getting kicked out of our homes. We are forced to choose between groceries and rent. We are denied quality medical care. We are suffering from environmental pollution. We are working long hours for little pay and no rights, if we’re working at all. We are getting nothing while the other 1 percent is getting everything. We are the 99 percent.
The site is a place where the 99 percent can air their grievances. Anyone can send in a photograph consisting of a headshot (sometimes the face is partially covered) and a note (usually handwritten) which takes after the style of the message above. For example, here is a short one:
My dad subjects himself to harmful chemicals 50+ hours a week so I can go to college and I don’t even know if I’ll have a job when I graduate.
We are the 99%.
If we could find one common denominator, one common attribute to the mood of all these messages, it would not be desperation. It would be a sense of individual helplessness and indignation. But the very act of sending a photo to this website implies at least the flicker of hope—the hope that something will come of this movement.

The 1% who has everything has it either because of injustice or because they were lucky. But if they were so lucky and the rest of us are unlucky, that is also an injustice. “Either way,” the site seems to be saying in a collective voice, “we have to do something together, because what needs to be done no one person can do on their own. We have to help each other to fight injustice.”MediaPicOct14

THE LATEST EPISODE of The Office—“Lotto”—also deals with luck and money and jobs. Perhaps the show’s writers were attempting to address, however obliquely, the grievances of Occupy Wall Street. Regardless of their intentions, they touched on some of the same grievances that one encounters as one scrolls down the “We are the 99 Percent” page.

Because it’s The Office, they do it in a pleasant, inverted way. No one loses his job in this episode. Someone is simply passed up for a promotion, and doesn’t win the lottery.

The warehouse workers of the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company—the guys who actually put the boxes of papers into the delivery trucks—win the lottery. The prize money is not quite a million dollars, and it is also split several ways among the workers who took part in the lotto pool. Nevertheless, the prize is big enough that they all quit their jobs and move on to better lives.

Darryl (Craig Robinson) was once part of the warehouse crew, and even part of the lotto pool, until about a year ago, when he took advantage of an opportunity to move upstairs for an office and a promotion: warehouse foreman. Now the workers he was the boss of all have cashed out, leaving him alone. On top of that, their winning ticket was based off of Darryl’s birthday.

Darryl spins into an existential crisis. He left the warehouse on a lucky break, in order to work for a better life for himself. Yet the real luck eluded him—insulted him, even. The real luck went to the people who stayed in the warehouse and won all the cash. He becomes a zombie, retreats into self-pity. He tells his boss to fire him.

The boss responds to Darryl’s request by reminding him that he (Darryl) had been promoted because he showed promise, and hunger, and hard work. But in the last year, he “stopped pushing”: his fire was gone. That’s why he was overlooked for another promotion, when that opportunity came along. That is the real reason why Darryl is unhappy: because he isn’t working to make himself better, and is thinking about luck.

Darryl learns his lesson: “My future will not be determined by seven white lotto balls… I control my destiny. I do.”

BEYOND CONTROL, THERE is only luck. That is what both the website and the TV show appear to be saying. The only difference lies in types of control. Darryl rediscovers his own will: he can control his destiny. The people posting on “We are the 99” are smarter than that, because they have suffered more. They can’t control their own destiny, but perhaps there is hope in mutual cooperation and, therefore, in politics.

Some will find value in “Lotto” because it reaffirms the importance of personal initiative. Don’t blame others for your problems: work harder. There is something to be said for that. But it is not something that should be said to most of the people who have shared their predicaments in “We are the 99 Percent.” Most of them have suffered from problems beyond their control—medical problems, corporate downsizing, the end of industries.

What strikes me about both the website and the TV show, however, is that neither appeals to charity. Not charity in the Salvation Army sense. I mean the word “charity” as it connotes friendship and dependency: we need others in order to get through life. Charity as solidarity: brotherhood in the face of suffering. Charity as love, and as something upon which to build the political order.

Charity won’t tell us (at least not directly) what political policies to pursue. But we all know how real it is: we all know how much we need someone else’s help when life becomes difficult. If nothing else, it is as real as luck and power. And perhaps, in times of anger and disappointment, it is something we should appeal to—not as a substitute for politics or hard work, but as a necessary precondition for both.

Santiago Ramos writes from Boston, MA.