Vatican investigates US bishop who didn’t report pornographer

The Vatican has conducted an apostolic visitation of Kansas City-St Joseph diocese in the United States, to investigate the leadership of Bishop Robert Finn.

Bishop Finn was the first Catholic prelate in the United States to be found criminally guilty of shielding a guilty priest in the sex abuse crisis.

Canadian Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa visited Kansas City-St Joseph last week, and spoke with about a dozen people, the National Catholic Reporter stated.

The main question he asked was reportedly “Do you think [Finn] is fit to be a leader?”

One priest who spoke with the archbishop didn’t recall the question being quite that “bold”.

Archbishop Prendergast was carrying out the visitation on behalf of the Congregation for Bishops.

Bishop Finn, who has led the Kansas City diocese since 2005, has come under sustained criticism.

He was convicted in 2012 of a misdemeanour count of failing to report suspected child abuse in the case of a now-former priest, Fr Shawn Ratigan, who was producing child pornography.

Ratigan, now laicised, received a 50 year jail sentence last year.

In November 2011, Bishop Finn avoided misdemeanour charges by agreeing to give prosecutors immediate oversight of the diocese’s sexual abuse reporting procedures.

The Kansas City diocese has also been facing several lawsuits for sexual abuse claims and has made a number of large financial settlements in recent years.

Bishop Finn hiked the payments by parishes to the diocese to cover expenses and the number of Catholics in the diocese has declined by nearly a quarter in 10 years.

The NCR reported that one person who spoke with Archbishop Prendergast didn’t think Bishop Finn is fit to be a leader.

“I told the archbishop I thought [Finn] was holy but didn’t have the organisational skills for the diocese,” the source reportedly said.

A spokesperson for the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests said that investigations of complicit Church officials should not start with one whose guilt has already been proven.

The headquarters of the NCR are located in Bishop Finn’s dioceses and there have been skirmishes between the paper and the bishop over the role of Catholic media.

In 2013, NCR columnist Bill Tammeus published an open letter to Pope Francis calling on Bishop Finn to resign.


Additional reading

News category: World.

Tags: , , , , ,