Posts Tagged Kansas City

Held to Account / Commonweal

In a March 2014 interview, Pope Francis was given an opportunity to comment on the sexual-abuse scandal, a subject he had said remarkably little about since his election. Acknowledging the ‘deep wounds’ suffered by victims, Francis went on to defend the church as the only public institution to address such crimes ‘with transparency and responsibility.’ No one else has done more, he continued, and yet “the church is the only one to be attacked …’

“For nearly three years, Kansas City Catholics have been wondering whether a pope would replace Finn with a bishop who would put the safety of children first. On April 21, they got their answer. In a terse statement, the Holy See announced that Pope Francis had accepted Finn’s resignation. The brevity of that statement was inversely proportional to its significance for the global church.”

Editorial by Commonweal — Click here to read the rest of this editorial

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Kansas City Catholics divided over Vatican investigation of bishop / National Public Radio

A Catholic bishop normally governs pretty much unchecked in his diocese — only the pope can dislodge a bishop. And each time Catholics celebrate Mass in Kansas City, Mo., they pray for Bishop Robert Finn, right after they pray for Pope Francis.

“But some Catholics here, like Deacon David Biersmith, refuse to go along.

“‘When the priest says that, you know, you’re supposed say it with him, but I just leave that out,’ Biersmith says. ‘I just don’t say it. Because he’s not my bishop, as far as I’m concerned.’

“Much of the discontent in Kansas City has to do with an incident four years ago. A computer technician found hundreds of lewd photos of young girls on a priest’s laptop. The priest was Shawn Ratigan, and it wasn’t the first sign that he was a pedophile.”

By Frank Morris, National Public Radio — Click here to read or listen to the rest of this report.

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Pope’s most important step on sex abuse may come in Kansas City /

News yesterday (Sept. 29) that the Vatican is investigating Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri, first reported by Joshua McElwee of the National Catholic Reporter, is potentially a prelude to the most significant step Pope Francis may ever take with regard to the church’s child sexual abuse scandals…

“What would be new in the Finn case, if he’s removed or otherwise sanctioned, is that a bishop would be held accountable not for the crime of sexual abuse, but for the cover-up, meaning failure to respond appropriately when someone else under his supervision is accused.”

By John L. Allen, Jr., The Boston Globe associate editor for Catholic news, on — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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Kansas City Bishop Finn’s Appeal Letter Doesn’t Have Much Appeal / National Catholic Reporter

“All the while, sitting in the room, was [Bishop] Finn, perhaps the most glaring contemporary exhibit of the bishops’ total disregard of their own promises of transparency and accountability. Not once was he mentioned, nor was mention made in that meeting of the fact that a sitting bishop had been convicted of a crime that, were he a priest, would disqualify him from ministry. The fine print in the charter — rather the script written in invisible ink — must read: None of the above applies to bishops.” By Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter

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Bishop Finn Conviction Precipitates Two Issues: Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese Governance & USCCB Integrity

National Catholic Reporter Editorial

“If Bishop Robert W. Finn wanted today to volunteer at a parish in the Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., diocese to teach a religious education class or chaperone a parish youth group to World Youth Day, he couldn’t do it. Convicted of a misdemeanor charge of failure to report suspected child abuse, Finn wouldn’t pass the background check necessary to work with young people in the Catholic church.

“That is, he could not serve in those positions if he were just a layman, deacon or priest. But he is a bishop, and that makes all the difference. And he can, apparently, do anything he wants under church law.

“There are two issues at play here: the governance of the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese and the integrity of the U.S. bishops as a national conference …”

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Defying Canon and Civil Laws, Diocese Failed to Stop a Priest / The New York Times

Defying Canon and Civil Laws, Diocese Failed to Stop a Priest

After Father Ratigan was arrested, Bishop Finn met with his priests. Asked why Father Ratigan was not removed earlier, the bishop replied, according to the testimony, that he had wanted ‘to save Father Ratigan’s priesthood’ and that he had understood that Father Ratigan’s problem was “only pornography.” By Laurie Goodstein, The New York Time

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Civil Authorities Hold Bishop Accountable with Finn Conviction; Something Church Unwilling to Do

Bishop Robert Finn, pastoral leader of the diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., yesterday became the first bishop, and the highest Roman Catholic Church official, to be convicted in criminal court in America for his role in the Church’s decades-long clergy sexual abuse scandal. Church reform movement Voice of the Faithful® decries the fact that our Church, as moral authority, was unwilling to hold Bishop Finn accountable and left it to civil authorities to do so.

VOTF has long felt that our Church will never be healed of the deep wounds clergy sexual abuse causes until the Church reveals secrets that helped spread the scandal, secrets like those Bishop Finn kept. The Church must bolster its child protection guidelines to provide the means and methods of holding bishops accountable if they cover up abuse, placing the institution of the Church above the welfare of children.

VOTF also feels that, as painful as a jury trial for Finn and prosecution of the diocese would have been, the Church would have been better served if the public had been allowed to hear testimony from those harmed by the bishop’s actions.

Finally Voice of the Faithful®, as it has done repeatedly in the past, calls on the Vatican and the bishops to hold accountable those among them who knowingly fail to remove clerics who abuse children and will be looking for the Vatican and United States Conference of Catholic bishops to act regarding Bishop Finn, at least in terms of fraternal correction.

Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful® is a worldwide movement of concerned mainstream Roman Catholics working to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, support priests of integrity and increase the laity’s role in governance and guidance of the Church. More information is at

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Finn First Bishop Found Guilty in Decades-Long Sexual Abuse Scandal

UPDATE: Finn found guilty on one charge of failure to report

“The first U.S. Catholic bishop criminally charged in the decades-long clergy sex abuse crisis was found guilty Thursday of one misdemeanor count of failing to report a priest known to be in possession of lewd images of children.” By Joshua L. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

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