Sometimes choosing which to decry from among the anti-Catholic articles on the religion page of the Post-Dispatch‘s STLToday site can be difficult.  Today, the choice is obvious.

In an article of which the ostensible subject is Bishop Robert Finn’s workshop on Catholic media at this year’s Missouri Conference Annual Assembly, gossip columnist Deb Peterson takes the time to figuratively paint raised eyebrows on the reader, as she apparently tries to choke back the obvious disbelief that someone who is on the hit list of the Kansas City Star would DARE to lead a conference on Catholic media–even if such a person’s credentials as a Catholic (um, a Bishop) and a media person (former long-time editor of our town’s St. Louis Review) are well-established.

There is a sneer factor to this piece that is palpable.  I will run it below, and will try my own hand at editing as though it were written for a reputable newspaper:

St. Louis native, the embattled Kansas City bishop, to lead workshop on the media 

by Deb Peterson 

FINN INN: St. Louis native and embattled Kansas City Bishop Robert Finn, whose resignation has been called for by the Kansas City Star, will lead a workshop in Jeff City on Oct. 1 on the subject of the media.

Finn, who has been bishop of the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese since 2005, is scheduled to lead a panel at the annual statewide Missouri Catholic Conference. 

The workshop’s title: “Catholic Press: A Tool for the New Evangelization.”

A website regarding the conference says Finn will talk about how Catholic news outlets compare “to the secular media in methodology and goals.” Finn is a former editor of The St. Louis Review, the weekly newspaper of the St. Louis Archdiocese.

Finn’s “presentation will suggest how we can be more savvy consumers of media and ways in which the Catholic press can better realize its power and potential in the church.”

Finn has been embroiled in a scandal in Kansas City involving the Rev. Shawn Ratigan who was arrested in May and who has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of taking indecent photographs of young girls. The most recent of the pictures allegedly were taken during an Easter egg hunt in April.

At least two times before that it was suggested that Ratigan had an inappropriate interest in young girls. Part of the complaint about Finn’s dealing with the Ratigan allegations is that Finn promised in 2008 that he would immediately report anyone suspected of being a pedophile to law enforcement authorities.

That promise was included in a long list of preventive measures that he agreed to in the wake of his settling lawsuits with 47 plaintiffs in sexual abuse cases for $10 million.


Now, at this point, instead of just lining out the following paragraph as off-topic, or simply including it as on-topic (which it may be if the above text were not included, as it is another workshop at the same conference), I would send a note to the writer before publishing to the effect of “Hey, is there a reason you chose this workshop to highlight after gratuitously smearing the subject of this article about the actions of someone else who is a suspect of indecency charges in that Diocese?  What link are you making between these two workshops in light of your article?”  However, the edit would probably run like this:

Another workshop at the conference, “What you need to know about pornography,” will be headed by Robert Furey, a St. Louis therapist who helps sexually troubled clergy. Furey also directs a church-operated center for pedophile priests in rural Missouri that was criticized last year in a two-part KSDK (Channel 5) series.

I won’t charge the Post for this free editing service.  Let’s see if they can correct the article by the end of the day.