An excellent article from Catholic Culture about it.
“So now an American bishop is a convicted criminal. Do you suppose there’s any chance the other bishops will finally get the message?
“Bishop Robert Finn has been convicted in a court of law for doing what scores of other American bishops have done in the recent past. It’s true that Bishop Finn will not serve actual jail time, and his criminal record will be erased after he completes a term of probation; but the judge had the authority to put him behind bars for a year.
“In Pennsylvania, meanwhile, Msgr. William Lynn is already behind bars, for doing what his cardinal-archbishop apparently told him to do.
“Some intelligent observers argue that Bishop Finn (and Msgr. Lynn, for that matter) should not have been convicted. But I am inclined to accept the judgment of the courts—as Bishop Finn, at least, has apparently done. Any loyal Catholic should also be troubled by the prospect of a secular court passing judgment on a bishop’s exercise of episcopal ministry. But in this case there is no doubt in my mind that civil officials are emboldened to police the bishops because the bishops have so calamitously failed to police themselves.
“What did Bishop Finn do, and what did Msgr. Lynn do, to merit punishment as criminals? Both of them failed—so the courts tell us—to follow up responsibly on complaints of sexual abuse by priests. During the “Long Lent” of 2002 the American public learned that dozens of American bishops—a solid majority of the hierarchy, by all indications—had been guilty of the same sort of negligence. Yet even today, after a decade of painful experience, the bishops continue to tell us that the answer to the sex-abuse scandal is to hold priests responsible, and even to hold lay people responsible.
“Wrong! The answer to the sex-abuse scandal—the answer that the American hierarchy still has not provided—is to hold bishops responsible.
“Measured against the standards of 2002, Bishop Finn’s transgressions were minor. We don’t know exactly how much information about the unhealthy proclivities of Father Shawn Ratigan had percolated up through the filters of the diocesan bureaucracy. The bishop had received reports about photos on the priest’s computer, but he had not seen the photos themselves. He had received a few warnings about the priest’s unusual behavior, but he had not seen conclusive evidence of misconduct. Compare his case with the dozens of cases unearthed in 2002, in which bishops had received dozens of complaints, from dozens of victims, and still had neither reported to police nor removed the offending priest from ministry.”