Catholics Sounding off about Recent Scandal in Online Survey

By Beth Vaughn
NBC Action News
July 28, 2011

When Father Shawn Ratigan was arrested in May, shock consumed Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

Six months before being taken into custody, the Diocese of Kansas City St. Joseph said questionable pictures were found on his computer. The next day, Ratigan attempted to commit suicide. Then, Bishop Robert Finn reassigned him to an abbey where he wouldn’t have access to children.

There was immediate outcry from the public over how the Diocese handled the allegations.

Now, there’s a place for people to sound off anonymously.

Jeff Weis was born and raised in the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph. He is a devout Catholic who was concerned that the sentiment of fellow faithful followers and Kansas Citians wasn’t being heard.

So, he created a questionnaire, which can be found at .

It started circulating to Weis's family and friends on June 15. Since then, it’s been responded to by 500 people. Ninety-three percent identify themselves as Catholics.


Thirty-four percent are between the ages of 53 and 63 years old. Another 24 percent are between the ages of 46 and 52 years old.

More than half of the respondents say they are female.

The survey will be open until August 31, however, Weis shared some preliminary results with NBC Action News on Thursday.

The series of 10 questions are answered by: strongly disagree, disagree, neutral, agree, strongly agree and non-applicable.

Seventy-three percent said they 'strongly disagreed' with the statement: “I feel that the issue of Fr. Shawn Ratigan allegedly possessing child pornography has been handled appropriately by Bishop Finn and the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph."

Only 38 percent of the respondents believe that law enforcement handled the allegations over Ratigan possessing child pornography appropriately.

More than half responded ‘strongly disagree’ to the statement: “I feel the issue of Bishop Finn allegedly taking over 1 year to notify the authorities will be appropriately addressed through improvement within the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph."

Almost 60 percent think Bishop Finn should be investigated and prosecuted for waiting move than a year to notify law enforcement.

Finally, the initial results show that almost half of all respondents plan to put more careful thought and consideration into stewardship and tithing to the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph.

Weis said, “The cup of frustration runneth over. I think people are just, they can't take it anymore.”

He plans to disseminate his findings to those who’ve taken the survey and the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph.

He explains his rationale, “I hope to them, the Diocese, that it does show that these sentiments are fairly broad. That they are wide spread."

Weis admits the survey is informal and non-scientific but he does believe that it will reflect the general feeling of those who've been following the story.


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