Posts Tagged robert finn

Voice of the Faithful writes USCCB’s NRB about distress at Bishop Finn ordinations

Roman Catholic Church reform movement Voice of the Faithful wrote today to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ National Review Board, which oversees the Church’s child protection policies, declaiming its distress that disgraced Bishop Robert Finn will preside at ordinations this month in his former diocese. In doing so, we add our voices to those of SNAP and other organizations that believe public support for abuse survivors and endorsement of strong child protection policies is essential for the Church.

Here is the text of the letter:

Dear NRB Members,

Voice of the Faithful urges you, as the office charged with ensuring the protection of children, to speak out immediately on the recent that Bishop Robert Finn, who recently resigned from the diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, is scheduled to confer ordinations there later this month.

Bishop Finn, as you no doubt know, was convicted three years ago for the crime of failing to report the discovery of child pornography on the computer of a priest in his diocese. Despite that conviction, Bishop Finn was permitted to attend USCCB meetings. No other bishop publicly criticized his presence, and only when the Vatican announced his removal was there any consequence to his public failure to observe the 2002 Dallas Charter requirements or the laws protecting children in Missouri.

To have Bishop Finn preside at ordinations sends a compelling signal to the Faithful of cronyism and coverup, of clerical preference at the expense of a strong commitment to protecting children. Bishop Finn, who by his conviction is no longer legally eligible to teach children, does not embody the qualities needed for leaders and teachers of the faith and surely should not be in the position of ordaining future pastors and spiritual guides.

In the name of abuse survivors and our children and grandchildren, we pray you speak out against this misguided plan to have Bishop Finn confer ordinations. Your message would be a significant demonstration that it’s not “business as usual” for the coverup of child sex abuse. If you fail to act, the message delivered instead is that “courtesy” to bishops matters more to the USCCB than its own promises about protecting children from sex abuse.

Sincerely,

Mark Mullaney, President

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KC priest criticizes prosecution of Bishop Robert Finn, and prosecutor fires back / The Kansas City Star

As the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese tries to move past the resignation of Bishop Robert Finn, a priest has roiled the waters with a letter alleging that the criminal charges against Finn were politically motivated.

“The prosecutor who filed the case, Jean Peters Baker, this week responded with a strongly worded letter of her own.”

By Judy L. Thomas, The Kansas City Star — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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Editorial: Finn’s resignation is a bitter but necessary reckoning / National Catholic Reporter

The resignation of Robert Finn as bishop of the diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., is a bitter but necessary moment of reckoning for leaders of the Catholic church if they hope to begin to deal seriously with their long betrayal of the community’s trust.

“Let’s be clear that this is only a beginning. Finn was removed for cause, we have been told. Finn was criminally convicted for failing to report Fr. Shawn Ratigan, who ultimately pleaded guilty to possessing and producing child pornography. Ratigan received a 50-year prison sentence.

“Finn also violated the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, commonly called the Dallas Charter, which the U.S. bishops themselves wrote to guide their response to the violation of children by clergy.”

Editorial by National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this editorial.

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Canon Lawyers: Origins of Bishop Finn’s resignation unclear / National Catholic Reporter

When news broke Tuesday (Apr. 21) of Bishop Robert Finn’s resignation as head of the Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., diocese, a primary question asked: Did he step down on his own, or was he forced out?

“The announcement from the Vatican published in its daily bulletin said Pope Francis accepted Finn’s resignation ‘in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.’ Canon 401.2 reads: ‘A diocesan bishop who has become less able to fulfill his office because of ill health or some other grave cause is earnestly requested to present his resignation from office.’

“While it’s possible the Vatican requested Finn resign, neither the announcement nor canon 401.2 offer clear evidence to that, according to four canon lawyers who spoke to NCR.”

By Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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Bishop Finn Resigns, Voice of the Faithful hopeful

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.

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Cardinal O’Malley’s warning shot about Bishop Finn is just the start / The Washington Post

When Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley told ‘60 Minutes’ that Pope Francis was well aware of the need to hold Missouri Bishop Robert Finn accountable for shielding a suspected child abuser, it sounded like another bell tolling on Finn’s tenure, perhaps the loudest gong yet since Finn was convicted in 2012 …

“But even more important may have been O’Malley’s remarks about the Vatican creating a system for disciplining bishops — establishing a process of accountability that could be used for churchmen beyond low-hanging clerical fruit like Finn.

“’One of the first things that came up is the importance of accountability,’ O’Malley said, referring to his role as leader of the sex abuse commission that Francis set up a year ago. ‘We’re looking at how the church could have protocols of how to respond when a bishop has not been responsible for the protection of the children in his diocese.’”

By David Gibson, Religion News Service, in The Washington Post — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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Kansas City Bishop Robert Finn under Vatican investigation / National Catholic Reporter

A Canadian archbishop visited the Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., diocese last week on behalf of the Vatican to investigate the leadership of Bishop Robert Finn, the first Catholic prelate to be found criminally guilty of shielding a priest in the ongoing clergy sexual abuse crisis.

“Ottawa, Ontario, Archbishop Terrence Prendergast visited the Midwestern diocese for several days last week, interviewing more than a dozen people about Finn’s leadership, several of those interviewed told NCR.

“According to those who spoke with Prendergast, the main he question asked was: ‘Do you think [Finn] is fit to be a leader?’”

By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this story.

Also of interest is the recent removal of Paraguayan Bishop Rogelio Ricard Livieres Plano for shielding a priest from accusations of abuse of minors and the arrest of former papal nuncio to the Dominican Republic Josef Wesolowski for child abuse. See Sept. 27 issue of Voice of the Faithful’s In the Vineyard newsletter with link to VOTF statement on the latter.

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Voice of the Faithful Urges Pope Francis to “Act Decisively” Regarding Bishops, Clergy Sexual Abuse & His Message to Vatican Congregation

Pope Francis has recommended that the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Catholic Church’s child sexual abuse prosecutorial arm, “act decisively with regard to cases of sexual abuse.” Currently, three cases in the U.S. provide an opportunity to see whether decisive action also will include holding accountable bishops who fail to act when sex abuse is revealed:

  1. Newark Archbishop John Myers has allowed a priest who had admitted groping a boy to continue working with children in violation of an agreement that barred the priest from ministering to children or holding any position involving children.
  2. Retired Los Angeles archbishop Cardinal Roger Mahony, implicated in covering up clergy sexual abuse based on formerly secret archdiocesan documents, ignored a directive from present Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez and has continued to preside at Confirmation and other public ceremonies.
  3. Kansas City-St. Joseph Bishop Robert Finn remains in office despite his conviction for failing to report suspected child abuse.

Each of these bishops apparently has violated the Essential Norms of USCCB’s Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, which have the force of canon law. In the most recent of these, although several lower-level diocesan employees have “resigned,” Bishop Myers, who several months ago had erroneously described the abusing priest in the case as having been acquitted, has not resigned.

If Pope Francis wishes to demonstrate that the Church will, at last, “act decisively” in matters of child sexual abuse, these are clear instances where he can hold accountable the bishops who fail to act in such cases. Voice of the Faithful® urges Pope Francis to call for investigations under canon law or to censure these bishops directly. He is the only person in the Church who can do so.

Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful® is a worldwide movement of concerned 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 about Voice of the Faithful is available on its website by clicking here.

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