Monday, June 13, 2011

Cloudy Days and Sunny Days

I went out to mow and do other yard work this morning but I had to come back inside because it started to rain.  It's a nice dark dreary cloudy day outside.  The type of day that makes you just want to go inside, curl up and take a nap.  I find it interesting how weather can affect a person's mood.  People tend to be happier when it's a nice sunny day outside or they are down and depressed when the weather is gloomy.   I should not be surprised though.  It's interesting how a bad mood can not only be perpetual but it can go viral.

I have no idea how many times I've taken the kids to school and they are down in the dumps and grumpy and I ask them what is wrong with them and they tell me, "today is going to be the worst day of my life!"  Why??  "It just is!"  They have not even gotten to school yet and they have already decided that the day is going to be bad.  Then I try to convince them to go inside with a smile on their face and see what happens.  It may end up being a good day.

Oh, but if I would only heed my own advice.   I have no idea how many times I've gone to work thinking, "blahhhhhhh----Tonight is my first night back to work.  I don't want to be here.  I'd rather be at home.   I can think of a million other places I'd rather be at then here."   And lo and behold--that attitude carries through and the night ends up being bad.   It's not bad because of anything that happens or what anyone does to me.  It's bad because I made it bad myself.

Then the problem arises in that misery loves company.   You go into work with a bad attitude and you tend to gravitate towards someone else with a bad attitude and next thing you know, you are complaining to each other about how bad things are and you start building on each other's bad day.  You start feeding on each other's negativity.  You start tearing other people down.  You start gossiping.  Then, like a whirlpool, you start bringing other people in who aren't having a bad day and put them in bad moods.  You start creating drama.

Then, that bad morning, turns into a bad day and before you know it, morale is low and the work environment is just a bad place to be.  Before you know it, no one wants to work there.  Why?  Because, while people will do a lot for a paycheck, in the end, they just want to be happy.

There may be a lot of outside influences that cause a bad work environment.  Such as not getting a pay raise and the city is after your other benefits.   There may be bosses who make things difficult for you for whatever reason.  The higher ups impose policies and procedures that make your job more difficult.   Things that other people do are out of your control.  You can not let what other people do influence your attitude.

One of my favorite stories is told my St. Therese of Lisieux.   There was a nun in the convent who was really mean and rude to St. Therese and naturally, St Therese did not have a high opinion of this nun.   But she showed nothing but love and compassion towards this lady.  Finally, one day, the nun came to Therese and asked, "why is it that you love me so."  In reality, Therese could not stand the lady.  But she let the love of Christ shine through her.

That is what we have to do.  We have to let Christ shine through us.   Perhaps we need to stop what we are doing and make a conscious decision to have a good attitude.   Perhaps we need to actually make ourselves physically smile and put on an outward sign of happiness.  It's amazing how many times that outward appearance works it's way inside and makes us happy.  Maybe we need to go to Our Lord in prayer and say, "Lord, I'm having a bad day.  Let your love work through me and make everyone happy."   Another thing to do is to dedicate everything we do to God.

We should not go through life all gloomy and sullen.  We were made to be happy.  God wants us to be happy.  It's the Devil who wants us sad.  Don't let the Devil win.  Be happy.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Diocesan Changes

Bishop Finn announced today a five point plan to deal with the sexual scandals that have recently plagued the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.   They are

  1. Immediate appointment of Todd Graves, former U.S. Attorney (and from my hometown), to conduct an independent investigation of events, policies and procedures.
  2. Appointment of an independent public liaison and ombudsman to field and investigate any reports of suspicious or inappropriate behavior.
  3. Reaffirmation of current diocesan policy and immediate commencement of an independent review of the polices for Ethical Codes of Conduct and Sexual Misconduct.
  4. An in-depth review of diocesan personnel training regarding the Ethical Codes of Conduct and the policy on Sexual Misconduct.
  5. Continued cooperation with local law enforcement.
Image from
     I think these are good places to start.    Having outside and independent investigators is a huge step in being transparent and ensuring that situations are not swept under the rug.   That's why diocesan officials should have given the investigation to the Shawn Ratigan case to local law enforcement in the first place.   Then all of the blame is off of your shoulders and on someone else.   I also think having an outside and independent person doing the investigation means more honesty.  Let's face it, it's difficult to be totally honest with ourselves sometimes, especially when being critical.  Sometimes it is best to have someone look at us and be  frank.

      I am glad Bishop Finn is making these changes and is one reason that I was not calling for his immediate removal or to give him a vote of no confidence.   If there are problems in the diocese then I think someone who has been embarrassed by the mistakes and had his feet held to the flames is more likely to make those changes than someone who comes in from the outside.  This has to be just the first step in the changes.  Bishop Finn must follow through and make sure these changes are truly implemented.
      I still stand by my belief in Saturday's post on Righteous Anger.  I hope by bringing in Mr. Graves a thorough investigation will be done into the mistakes made in the Rattigan case and by doing so the people who covered it up are located and fired and if need be criminally charged no matter how far up it goes.

      Bishop Finn will be remembered by this incident for good or for bad.  His legacy will be forever linked to Shawn Rattigan and how he handled that case.   He can be remembered as the bishop who failed the children he was supposed to protect or as someone who formed a model that other diocese can take the lead from.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The World Needs Ditch Diggers

It is interesting how people look at professions.  Take mine for instance.   There are many out there who think that police work is a noble profession.  After all, the police are out there putting their life on the line protecting the innocent and saving lives.    There are others out there who think that police work is beneath them.   They may just dislike the police or can't imagine having to work in the "trenches" getting dirty and bloody.   There are all types of jobs and careers out there--blue collar and white collar.   All of them have their pros and cons.  Someone working in an office environment might be comfortable.  They make good money and work inside where they have creature comforts such as heating and air conditioning.  But they may work under a lot of stress to make deadlines or have to work long hours.    On the other hand, a carpenter or a bricklayer may have to work outside in the environment and not make as much money but they may be happier because they enjoy what they do.

Society needs this broad spectrum of people and careers.   We need the lawyers and politicians and bankers just like we needs cooks and fisherman and teachers.  They all have their rolls in society.  Heck, there are even different rolls in an organization.  More people go into building a house than carpenters, plumbers and electricians.  There are foremen, architects, inspectors and lenders.  We are all pieces in a bigger puzzle.

This is important to remember as we are also pieces and parts of the Body of Christ.  From the pope all the way down to Joe the Plumber sitting in the pew--we are all members of the Mystical Body of Christ.  As such, we each have our own roles to play and given different graces.  St. Paul says of our different graces, "if prophecy, in proportion to the faith; if ministry, in ministering; if one is a teacher, in teaching; if one extorts, in exhortation; if one contributes, in generosity; if one is over others, in diligence; if one does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. (Roman 12:6-8)

So the role that God may have for me in my life may not be the same that he has given to a bishop in China or someone working at Catholic Worker house.  This doesn't mean God doesn't trust me as much or love me any less.  It's just a different role.  A different mission from God.   This is why we need to take care of each other.  This is why we need to be uplifting to each other.  We must help each other out because they whole body needs to remain healthy.  If one part is ailing then we are all ailing.  This is why we cannot look down upon anyone.  God loves us all.

So next time you are walking into the local Quik Trip and you bump into someone on their way to their job, don't see them as a construction worker or a businessman.  See them as a brother or sister in Christ who has a job just as important as yours.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Righteous Anger

The Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph is in the middle of another priest scandal and I for one am angry.  Not so much because of the scandal of what the priest did.   Every organization is going to have people who mess up, who are criminals and how tarnish an organizations reputation.   I am angry because of the scandal the diocese created when it failed to do anything with this priest.   I've defended the church over the years saying that she has learned from the mistakes of the past and put protections in place to protect her children.   But, in my opinion, the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph acted like it was pre-2001 and protected a priest instead of protecting the innocent.  This has only tarnished the Roman Catholic Church, the priesthood and I believe that heads should roll and people charged criminally.

A little background---in December, 2010 a computer technician working on Fr. Shawn Ratigan's computer found pornographic images of young girls.  He turned the information over to church officials at St. Patrick's church who in turn gave the computer to diocesan officials.    Those officials failed to turn the matter over to police authorities.  Instead, they asked a police official--who was serving on a committee in the diocese--for his opinion.  Only they held back the information.  They told him they had a single image of a girl and described it. Based on how they described it--the police official advised that it wasn't pornography.

The day after the information was given to the diocese, Mr. Ratigan (I'm sorry, I can't dignify him and call him "Fr. Ratigan) attempted suicide.  He was sent out of state for treatment and then placed at a residence in Independence with certain instructions to avoid young children.  He disobeyed and went to the St. Patrick's Day Parade as well as a child's birthday party.

It was then that the police official was recontacted and he advised the diocese to file a report with the department's cyber crime unit.  In the investigation, they found more pornographic images of young girls.   Mr. Ratigan was then charged in Clay County with possessing pornographic images of children taken around churches and schools where he served.  He has plead not guilty.

It took church officials five months to file a criminal report.  It get's worse.   A year ago in May, Julie Hess, the principal of the school where Mr. Ratigan was working sent a letter to the diocese expressing her concerns of the inappropriate behavior displayed by Mr. Ratigan towards children.  Behavior such as allowing kids to reach into his pocket for candy, allowing kids to cuddle with him and sit on his lap, having stuffed animals in his apartment as well as taking lots of photographs of children.

The diocese vicar general, Msgr Robert Murphy, met with Mr. Ratigan and discussed the items with him and set guidelines.

I'm sorry but that was wrong.  I sincerely hope that Msgr Murphy was just incredibly naive because those warnings that Ms. Hess gave should have shot up red flags.  They are the types of things that should make cold chills go down the back of any parent along  with bells, whistles and alarms screaming.   I, as a parent, would not allow my kids around someone like that.

I am so angry at the behavior of diocesan officials.   Steps should have been taken.  The lack of follow up and attempts to cover up have damaged the church.  They put children at risk.   Responsibility starts at the top with Bishop Robert Finn.  He has admitted his failings saying that he himself did not actually read the memo given to Msgr Murphy and that he regretted not going to the police in December.    Ultimately, the buck stops with Bishop Finn and I honestly hope he was not given the information that he should have been given.  I'm not convinced that he should step down as some are calling for.

I do believe that heads should roll.  I believe people should be fired.  I think people should be charged criminally for not taking information to the police.  Obviously, there was doubt or they would not have contacted the police official.  Obviously, there was cover up or else they would not have only revealed one image.  I would be willing to bet that if given more information, the police official would have given the the advice he gave in May---to file a report and allow a full investigation be done.

I'm angry and I believe rightfully so.   I'm do not mean ill will towards anyone.  Mr. Ratigan is who he is--that's between him and God and I'm holding my tongue about what I'd really like to say about him.  The people who I am saying should be fired made mistakes.  Everyone makes them.  They just should not be allowed to remain in their position and allowed to make them again.

None of this takes away from my faith in God or the Catholic Church.  I'm not leaving Peter because of Judas.  But steps MUST be taken to ensure this does not occur again.