The Parallels Between Bishop Finn and C.J. Mahaney

By | April 28, 2015

The priest in question, Shawn Ratigan, pleaded guilty to producing child pornography. Ratigan was expelled from the priesthood and sentenced to 50 years in prison.

Finn, 62, resigned April 21, 2015 for reasons unspecified by him and the Vatican. Pope Francis accepted the resignation several days after Finn visited Rome.”
The Kansas City Star, April 27, 2015

Sovereign Grace Ministries has experienced a similar situation.  Nathaniel Morales was  convicted of sexually abusing boys and sentenced to 40 years in prison.  During the Morales trial Grant Layman, one of the pastors and brother in-law of C.J. Mahaney testified that church leadership knew of the abuse but chose not to alert law enforcement officials.

Unlike Bishop Finn, C.J. Mahaney has not been convicted of failing to report suspected child abuse.  It is actually unclear whether Mahaney, as a member of the clergy, actually broke the law in Maryland by failing to report the known abuse. I have heard that there is an ongoing criminal investigation, so some in Sovereign Grace Ministries may yet face prosecution.  Even though Mahaney has not been convicted, it is evident he has covered up abuse in his denomination.  Al Mohler, Mahaney’s good friend, had this to say about the sexual abuse scandal that hit the Penn State football program:

“When the facts became known, the firings of both Paterno and Spanier were inevitable and necessary. Both men had credible knowledge that young boys were being sexually abused, and neither did anything effective to stop it. Most crucially, neither man did what they should have done within minutes of hearing the first report — contact law enforcement immediately….

What about churches, Christian institutions and Christian schools? The Penn State disaster must serve as a warning to us as well, for we bear an even higher moral responsibility.

The moral and legal responsibility of every Christian — and especially every Christian leader and minister — must be to report any suspicion of the abuse of a child to law enforcement authorities. Christians are sometimes reluctant to do this, but this reluctance is both deadly and wrong.

A Christian hearing a report of sexual abuse within a church, Christian organization or Christian school, needs to act in exactly the same manner called for if the abuse is reported in any other context. The church and Christian organizations must not become safe places for abusers. These must be safe places for children, and for all. Any report of sexual abuse must lead immediately to action. That action cannot fall short of contacting law enforcement authorities. A clear lesson of the Penn State scandal is this: Internal reporting is simply not enough.

After law enforcement authorities have been notified, the church must conduct its own work of pastoral ministry, care, and church discipline. This is the church’s responsibility and charge. But these essential Christian ministries and responsibilities are not substitutes for the proper function of law enforcement authorities and the legal system. As Christians, we respect those authorities because we are commanded to do so.

 -Albert Mohler, President, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary | Thursday, November 10, 2011,  Christian Headlines

Little did Mohler know that shortly after penning these words his good friend C.J. Mahaney would be implicated in doing the exact thing Paterno had done.  Did Mohler call for the resignation of C.J. Mahaney?  No.  Not only did he not call for his resignation, he issued ringing endorsements of the man.*  Could the fact that Mahaney had donated large amounts of money to Al Mohler’s Southern Baptist Theological Seminary have something to do with this?  It would seem like the most plausible reason.