(RNS) The Catholic diocese in Missouri led by Bishop Robert Finn, who was convicted last year of failing to report a priest who was taking pornographic pictures of children, will pay a $600,000 settlement to the family of one of the priest’s victims.

Bishop Finn Abuse

Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., has become the first U.S. bishop to be charged with failing to report the suspected abuse of a child. RNS photo courtesy Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph

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The family filed the civil suit in federal court in 2011 against Finn, the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., and the Rev. Shawn Ratigan, who pleaded guilty last year to charges of producing child pornography.

Ratigan had taken hundreds of lewd and suggestive photos of young children; the lawsuit, which was settled on Tuesday (May 14), was filed by the parents of a girl who was 2 years old when Ratigan started photographing her in 2006.

“We hope this settlement comforts at least some of the many families who have suffered and are suffering because Bishop Robert Finn refused to call police, protect kids and monitor Father Shawn Ratigan,” said Barbara Dorris of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

Last September, in an arrangement with prosecutors, Finn was convicted of a misdemeanor charge of failing to report Ratigan to authorities as required by law. Finn and the diocese had received multiple complaints about Ratigan in the months preceding the priest’s arrest in 2011 and church officials had seen some of the pictures of children on his laptop computer in December 2010.

Despite calls for Finn to resign, he has remained as head of the diocese. Diocesan spokesman Jack Smith told The Kansas City Star that the payout would be covered by insurance.

The tab for Finn’s own defense amounted to $1.4 million, the diocese said last year, which was covered by insurance plus funds collected from parishes.

The judge in the civil lawsuit dismissed the claim that Finn and the diocese aided and abetted Ratigan in possessing pornography.

The diocese previously paid out $10 million in 2008 to settle cases by plaintiffs who alleged sexual abuse by 12 priests. It still faces dozens of other lawsuits related to abuse allegations against other priests.


  1. And the Vatican keeps Robert Finn in his job! Part of the revolution–not the reform–of the church must be that the lay people of each parish select their own clergy from a pool of academically credentialed candidates with an option for dismissal on constitutional grounds, and the lay people and clergy of each diocese together select their own bishop with an option for dismissal on constitutional grounds. Of course, priests and bishops should be female or male, single or married.

    That’s how it was done in the early Jesus communities before the non-Christian Roman Emperor Constantine took over the “church” at his Council of Nicaea in 325. That practice has been very successful with the Reformation churches. And it would immensely reduce the work of the non-functioning, wasteful, corrupt Vatican curia.

    Listen up, Francis! But it’s too bad that one person is still considered so powerful at the top that no real input from the people of God means anything. That is precisely why corrections must come from revolution, not reformation.

  2. “…one of the priest’s victims.” Are there more shoes to drop? And guess who’s paying out all those funds?

    The payments are deserved, don’t get me wrong, but the clergy don’t donate to parishes or the diocese. It’s the pew warmers who fill the baskets with their hard-earned dollars.

    And those sexually abused young people belonged to those pew warmers, not to the clergy at the altars and pulpits, not to the abusive clergy, not to the bishops who criminally tried to hide the crimes of their clergy and themselves.

    When are we going to recognize and admit that celibacy by demand makes no sense, but it does make for a very disturbed, sick, hypocritical clergy.

  3. The Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph also faces eventual bankruptcy. That is just and good. Finn, every priest, and every lay person connected with this outrageous abuse and injustice should also be forced into bankruptcy, a bankruptcy that matches their spiritual bankruptcy.

  4. PS: Guess where Finn and all the other cover-up bishops got their directions and orders? The Vatican runs the bishops and the dioceses of the church. Bishops don’t make a single move without absolute certainty of their approval by headquarters.

  5. David Thompson

    They just need to make all Boy Scout Leaders priests. Then they won’t have to worry about gays becoming leaders and what that might do to BSA. This way, you know exactly what you get from that old time religion.

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