Convicted Prelate Apparently Not on Bishops’ Agenda in Baltimore This Week

Bishop Sash & crossBishop Robert Finn of Missouri stands convicted of covering up for a priest caught with thousands of images involving “child sex” on his computer. That this is a travesty is an understatement. That Bishop Finn has not resigned or been removed or even censured by his brother bishops is abhorrent. As U.S. bishops gather for their Fall General Assembly, Nov. 12-15, in Baltimore, Bishop Finn’s situation appears not to have made the agenda.

Bishop Finn’s conviction is the most significant example of how Roman Catholic bishops have exempted themselves from the requirement to follow their Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. Over the decade since this Dallas Charter was adopted, bishops have failed to report allegations of clergy sexual abuse, have kept accusations from their own review boards, and in at least one instance, have simply decided that the Charter does not apply to them at all. The U.S. bishops’ own National Review Board, which conducts audits to ensure bishops are carrying out the Charter guidelines, even warned them against “complacency or Charter drift” in its June 13, 2012, 10-year report.

Although Voice of the Faithful® is disappointed at the relative inaction on this issue by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops at previous national meetings, we call for them to act immediately at their present Fall General Assembly by doing the following, which would put teeth into fraternal correction and make the USCCB position on child protection absolutely clear:

  • When USCCB learns a bishop has engaged in activity that would be prohibited by the Charter, or
  • When USCCB learns a bishop has disregarded the principles of the Charter and has failed to take the actions required by the Charter, or
  • When USCCB learns a bishop has made public statements indicating his disagreement with the Charter’s principles or his unwillingness to take the action the Charter requires,
  • Then, after notifying the bishop and after the bishop fails to take corrective action within 60 days,
  • The bishop shall be excluded from USCCB activities and the USCCB’s action shall be reported to the Papal Nuncio and be the subject of a USCCB press release.

Voice of the Faithful® believes the threat of exclusion and public disapprobation will encourage USCCB members to implement the Charter more vigilantly, and resolving the above is a viable way to ensure this.

Our request for this action follows up on formal recommendations to tighten NRB audits that Voice of the Faithful® representatives made in April 2011 shortly after meeting with the then heads of the bishops’ Office of Child and Youth Protection and NRB, Teresa Kettelkamp and Diane Knight, respectively. We are convinced the actions we propose would enhance protection of children and help restore bishops’ badly damaged credibility. Those recommendations included:

  • Fully independent audits, with no restrictions on access to individuals or records;
  • Independent diocesan review boards;
  • Insulation of victim assistance programs from chancery officials, diocesan law firms or insurance companies;
  • Listening sessions around the country to hear lay Catholics’ reactions to the abuse/cover-up revelations and their expectations for resolving them; and
  • Formal support for Statutes of Limitations reform to provide victims/survivors with redress through civil authority.

Voice of the Faithful® has written NRB Chairman Al J. Notzon, III, regarding the above, and will be anxiously awaiting the outcomes from the USCCB’s Fall General Assembly.

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  1. #1 by Donna Gaspar on November 14, 2012 - 8:22 PM

    I have found a very safe and happy home in the Eucumenical Catholic Communion – as have thousands of others – we have Catholic communities across the country and in Europe.. Check out the Web site – you will not be sorry to be rid of the RCC and all its abusive power trips.


  2. #2 by Mark M. on November 14, 2012 - 12:37 AM

    Another thing that might help is to throw a few cardinals in jail and a handful of bishops along with them.


    • #3 by Al C. on November 14, 2012 - 11:59 AM

      The last two remarks are right on target. My wife and I started giving only nominal amounts to the collection basket years ago as a humble protest to the lack of leadership among the episcopate. (We increased our secular donations.) As we kept attending mass, our disappointment grew over the years to the point where our hope became not how we would be inspired by the Word of God at mass but could we escape the service without becoming more outraged and offended than when we went in! We have stopped attending mass now for over a year and while we yearn to go back, we know that nothing has changed relative to priestly abuse and the leadership response to it, opening-up the opportunity for ordination of the married and women and the arrogance of church leadership. My prayers so far go unanswered.


  3. #4 by bradleygroup on November 13, 2012 - 3:05 PM

    If I may indulge in some sarcasm, perhaps the bishops have found it higher priority to ensure that choirs don’t mix up the language of the “Lamb of God”. They have found the time to alert the entire North American liturgical music ministry of the importance of this issue. Perhaps they need similar guidance to strictly observe words like “credibly accused.”


  4. #5 by Carolyn Disco on November 13, 2012 - 1:35 PM

    It is important not to be silent in these matters, despite near certainty that the USCCB will do absolutely nothing.

    Four years ago I did a comparison between some early USCCB audits of the Diocese of Manchester, NH against those conducted by the independent NH Attorney General’s office. The state audits were part of a non-prosecution agreement between the State and the Diocese in which Bishop John McCormack had to agree in writing there was sufficient evidence for conviction of the Diocese for criminal child endangerment. Perjury as part of the planned indictment.

    The results of the two types of audits could not have been more stark. Read “The bishops claim one thing, the state finds something very different. . .” at
    See who knows how to speak truthfully.

    Example: USCCB 2004:

    “The diocese is found to be compliant with all Articles of the Charter for the
    Protection on (sic) Children and Young People.”

    Ten months later, the NH Attorney General’s auditors found:

    “The Diocese has exhibited a general level of ineffectiveness in enforcing compliance with the
    (non-prosecution) Agreement and its own (sexual abuse) policies. This ineffectiveness has resulted in: repeated missed deadlines for implementation of the policies, incomplete training, incomplete written acknowledgements, lack of background checks, and unfilled positions…

    The level of compliance with the (sexual abuse) policies and (non-prosecution) agreement at the local level is inconsistent at best. No site was 100% compliant…in one parish only 16% of employees or volunteers who worked with children had a sex offender registry check completed…

    Even at the diocesan level, compliance was not 100%. Eight and one-half percent of priests had not signed the acknowledgements – an express requirement that should have been completed more than 2 years ago.” Only one paragraph in a five-page letter mentioned some accomplishments…”

    Remember that abuse by religious brothers and seminarians who did not go on to ordination is excluded from USCCB audits on the grounds that technically, they are not clergy. Mentally-handicapped victims were not counted before July 2010 unless the abuse began before their 18th birthdays.

    Such is the mindset of Catholic bishops…It took eight years after the Dallas Charter for the Vatican to include child pornography in the norms for “grave offenses”, and to count mentally handicapped victims even if they were adults in chronological age when abused. USCCB auditors have no right of access to personnel files and the auditors publish a statement every year noting they are dependent on what dioceses tell them.

    And bishops expect to be trusted while they congratulate themselves for implementing the most effective child protection measures anywhere? Reports by grand juries, attorneys general, district attorneys, royal commissions, and other independent government and media investigations are the only sources of the full facts worldwide..


  5. #6 by glorybe1929 on November 13, 2012 - 12:58 PM

    Taking the the Roman Catholic Church to the International Criminal Court in the Hague, Netherlands is what needs to be done! This evil place that uses our Blessed Lord to to sexually abuse our innocents is a CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY that should be erradicated completely…ASAP!


  6. #7 by Bill Mullins on November 13, 2012 - 12:15 PM

    Nothing is going to change until those people who are not in abject Denial – be they in the pews or having abandoned them already – are willing to demand their voice be heard.

    The situation we face in the US is no different from that facing the Colonies in 1776. Some goodly number of people must be in active revolt; that means burdening the institution with consequences that the Bishops are evidently incapable of metering out against their own number.

    Taking away the donations just sends them retreating into their “man-caves” – it’s not action enough.

    The battle for American Independence took eight years, we should not expect this struggle to unfold in less time simply because we lack “force of arms” to make our issues inescapably compelling.

    What will it take people?


  7. #8 by Kay Goodnow on November 13, 2012 - 11:49 AM

    NOTHING is going to change until the people in the pews decide that they have had enough and walk away, taking their donations and contributions with them. That is the only message the bishops will hear, see and understand.


    • #9 by glorybe1929 on November 13, 2012 - 2:51 PM

      Amen Kay!


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