With Bishop Robert Finn’s resignation, which the Vatican announced today, Voice of the Faithful is more hopeful that bishops, at long last, might be held accountable for failing to report priests to criminal authorities when they are suspected of child abuse.
Although the Vatican used its usual “accept the resignation” in making this announcement about the Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., bishop, the lack of praise for past service and failure to designate any new posting is what passes for a forced resignation in the Vatican, especially given Finn’s age. Most bishops with documented records of shielding abusers have been allowed to fill out their terms and retire at 75.
Former Bishop Finn, as have others, chose to ignore the mandated reporting required by the 2002 U.S. bishops’ charter for the protection of young people and local civil law, as well as moral obligations not only to protect children who had already fallen prey to clerics, but also to prevent potential exposure of other children to clergy abuse.
“Voice of the Faithful has long called for such bishops to be held accountable for covering up and enabling abuse and activities that endanger rather than support the faithful in their parish communities,” said Mark Mullaney, VOTF president.
Of note are Finn’s activities even as his tenure at the diocese began in 2005. According to National Catholic Reporter, Finn dismissed several lay diocesan leaders, canceled the diocese’s nationally recognized lay formation programs, forced through budget cuts the closure of the diocese’s Center for Pastoral Life and Ministry and appointed someone with no formal theological training to oversee adult catechesis and lay formation.
Pope Francis, in contrast to such activities, has said frequently that he values lay input, sees no place in the priesthood for abusers and desires bishops to be held accountable.
“VOTF prays that this resignation signals a new willingness to remove those bishops who still choose to hide suspected abuse rather than address it,” Mullaney said. “We are hopeful the mistaken appointment of Bishop Barros in Chile will soon become a second marker of accountability.”
Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful is a worldwide movement of faithful Roman Catholics working to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, support priests of integrity and increase the laity’s role in the governance and guidance of the Church. More information is at www.votf.org.