The National Catholic Reporter, reporting on the resignation of Bishop Robert Finn, notes that he was the first bishop to be convicted of criminal charges in the mishandling of clergy sexual abuse in the US, failing to report the suspicion abuse of children by a now-former priest who had been creating child pornography. The NCR report describes as rare the resignation of a bishop before the retirement age of 75. The 62-year-old Bishop Robert Finn would have celebrated his tenth anniversary in the Catholic Diocese of St Joseph-Kansas City, Missouri, next month.
Tuesday’s Vatican note read: “The Holy Father Francis has accepted the resignation from the pastoral government of the diocese of St. Joseph-Kansas City, Mo. (U.S.A.) presented by His Excellency Msgr. Robert W. Finn.”
The announcement cites the portion in the Code of Canon Law that states that a 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.”
Despite his conviction, suspended two-year sentence, and a diversion compliance agreement entered into in order to avoid similar charges in another county according to the NCR, Finn remained at his post in the face of opposition, petitions to the Vatican for his removal, and division in the diocese, until today.
The full details of how Finn and the Kansas City diocese responded to reports about Ratigan’s behavior became part of the public record in 2012.
As part of the nonjury trial at which Finn was found guilty of failing to report suspected child abuse, both the prosecutors and defense lawyers submitted a set of 69 mutually agreed-upon facts that formed a timeline of the diocese’s handling of the Ratigan case.
Many more details are covered in the NCR story, “US Bishop Finn, symbol of church’s failure on sexual abuse, resigns.”
Posted by Rosalind Hughes