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The Catholic Right Lines Up Against the Least

Originally posted at Talk to Action.

Bishop Robert Finn has many powerful friends on the Catholic Right.  As a hard charging leader of what he has called “the church militant” and one of four American Opus Dei bishops, Finn is clearly one of their own.  Nevertheless, it extraordinary that his allies have chosen to side with an element in the institutional church obsessed with unquestioned authority and against Catholic children and their families.

While Bill Donohue of the Catholic League is ubiquitous, he is not the only one rallying to defend Finn’s handling of alleged child abuser Fr. Shawn Ratigan. It is time to throw open the shutters and allow some daylight into the shadows and dark corners of Catholic neoconservatism.  

The Catholic League

While Bill Donohue and the Catholic League need no introduction, it is worth a quick review of their key members and advisers who share responsibility for the League’s  support for Finn.

Among the League’s Board of Directors is Raymond Arroyo of Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) who is reputed to be either an Opus Dei member or cooperator (but who in any case has certainly vigorously defended the controversial group). Also on the board is Candace de Russy, an Adjunct Fellow at the Hudson Institute, a neocon think tank that features Lewis “Scooter” Libby (of Valerie Plame fame) as a Senior Vice President.  The League’s Board of Advisers is populated by such leading neocons as Hadley Arkes, Mary Ann Glendon, Robert P. George, Michael Novak and George Weigel, who has sanitized past Vatican failures regarding pedophile clergy and recently declared his scorn for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP).

Thomas Monaghan

Another Catholic League adviser is Domino’s Pizza magnate Tom Monaghan, who in many ways is the key to Donohue’s activities in Kansas City-St. Joseph.

Monaghan has, over the years, advanced the twin agendas of laissez-faire economics and ultra-orthodox Catholicism with money and political muscle.  He has helped to fund Operation Rescue and Fr. Frank Pavone’s Priests for Life as well as Legatus, the ultra-conservative millionaires-only club he founded. And according to Forbes, he has reportedly done the same for Opus Dei.

Monaghan is also involved with another Finn defender, Opus Bono Sacerdotii.

Opus Bono Sacerdotii

The Kansas City Star recently reported that the Fr. Ratigan, the alleged pedophile priest, had received a psychiatric evaluation at Bishop Finn’s behest. But there are questions about the psychiatrist’s impartiality as well as his diagnosis.  The Star pointed out:

Richard Fitzgibbons, who examined Ratigan in January after disturbing photographs of children were found on the priest’s computer, is an adviser to Opus Bono Sacerdotii, according to the group’s website. The nonprofit organization provides services to accused and imprisoned priests, including financial, legal and emotional support.

After his evaluation, Fitzgibbons told Finn that Ratigan was not a pedophile and that his pornography problem was a result of loneliness and depression, according to a report commissioned by the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese.

(Note that Fitzgibbons’s diagnosis was “loneliness and depression” not pedophilia.)

Opus Bono Sacerdotii (OBS) describes, its mission:

Opus Bono Sacerdotii (Work for the Good of the Priesthood) was founded in response to many sensitive situations with priests requesting confidential assistance for unique problems.  These situations may encompass a whole spectrum of circumstances, however, the success in caring for Catholic priests is understanding the uniqueness of each individual and their particular needs, abilities and desires especially as it effects the extraordinary relationship between the natural and supernatural aspect of the person of the priest.

BishopAccountability.org describes OBS co-founders Joseph Maher and Paul Barron as “members of Legatus.”  This is not unusual. Based in Monaghan’s hometown of Detroit, Michigan, many of the key members of Legatus are also affiliated with the Monahan-founded or funded organizations, notably the ultra orthodox Ave Maria University (“AMU”), in Naples, Florida. These include such Catholic Right luminaries as the late neocon activist Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, Fr. Thomas G. Guarino, and Fr. Michael Orsi.

A stern-looking Donohue is pictured on the OBS homepage next to a link to his piece, “Straight Talk about the Catholic Church and SNAP Exposed.”

Fr. Orsi’s past pronouncements about victims of priestly pedophilia have been controversial.  For example, as a December 22, 2008 post at BishopAccountability.org noted:

Orsi’s defense of sexually dysfunctional priests is rich with clericalism. This conclusion was highlighted in the book “Sacrilege:  Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church”.  Leon Podles, a former federal investigator, is the book’s author and, interestingly, a former supporter of AMU.  In the chapter “Clerical Accomplices”, Dr. Podles describes the pass that Orsi gives to guilty homosexual/pederast/pedophile priests as reflective of a time “in which members of society had unequal status before the law.  Such inequality is always irritating, and is often used to protect privileged malefactors – and Orsi resents the loss of privilege.”

Orsi uses his Ave Maria Chaplaincy to promote and defend OBS thanks to his two bosses, Ave Maria School of Law Chairman Tom Monaghan and President-Dean Bernard Dobranski. For all of the rants about liberal immorality, attacks on the family, and the “culture wars” penned by Monaghan and Dobranski in their fundraising letters, you’ll never hear about the wink-and-nod given to Orsi or OBS in keeping pederasts at the altar.

That these Catholic Right leaders seem to want to save Finn’s position as bishop at almost any cost, suggests that their goals for the Church as a bastion of religious and political authoritarianism, takes precedence over everything else — including the safety and well being of children.

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8 Responses

  1. The continued hiding of pedophile priests int he Catholic church is unconscionable, and they continue to lie to protect them.

    Of course, it takes an investigator to get the truth out of anyone in the Catholic church, so here is what Todd Graves, the investigator (paid by the Catholic church), found out:

    When the computer was found in December of 2010, Bishop Finn did not call the police. He had two people (including Msgr Murphy) call a friend who was a policeman and ask if a naked picture of a 2 year old relative was porn.

    The truth, from pg 90 of the Todd Graves report, shows:

    – the picture was the last in a staged series of a 2 year old girl doing a “strip tease” out of a diaper
    – the last picture was the one of her naked, private parts exposed, with the diaper completely off
    – the computer was riddled with “up skirt” pictures Ratigan took of girls under 10 years old
    – it was not the picture of anyone’s relative
    – Bishop Finn got a memo about Ratigan’s pedophilia behavior from a school principal in May of 2010, one full year before he reported any of this to the actual police

    When Catholics tell the truth, it is just a slight shade of the complete truth. They assume that no one can read, and that the Internet is just a fad, instead of a history book that will tell the story of the Catholic church for generations to come.

    Two year old doing a strip tease out of a diaper. No big deal in the Catholic church. Might as well hide the truth about the guy who had it, and leave him around children for a few months.

  2. Frank,

    For whom do you write this stuff? It seems to serve no useful purpose. If anything, it just drives a larger wedge between the “left” and the “right” (if those elements really exist within the Church).

    • David I write “this stuff” so that other Catholics know that there are folks – such as certain Opus Dei neocons – who put blind obedience to an institution before the safety and well being of that institution’s members.

      And that is indeed a useful purpose.

    • David,

      You apparently want to hide the truth about priests and bishops that hide pedophile priests. You are a true servant of this Catholic church, not a servant of God or the truth.

    • Frank,

      I am not aware of any Catholic teaching that says that blind obedience is to be put before the institution. There are plenty of fringe thinkers on both ends of the political spectrum. To point them out serves no useful purpose for the institution or its members. Fidelity to the Gospel is the touchstone.

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