Bishop Robert Finn, head of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri has long been a symbol of the ongoing institutional intransigence in addressing the problem of child sex abuse in the Roman Catholic Church. Finn who was convicted by a Missouri court for failing to report suspected child abuse by a parish priest under his charge, has so far resisted calls for his resignation.
It now appears that Pope Francis wants to remove that symbol.
The National Catholic Reporter reports:
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 question he asked was: “Do you think [Finn] is fit to be a leader?”
While Bishop Finn has supporters, there are many in his diocese who have already given an unqualified “no” as their answer.
There is one particular element of this breaking story that bears watching: Archbishop Prendergast, the Vatican appointed investigator, is a Jesuit. And as I have previously pointed out, Bishop Finn is a member of Opus Dei. He is a culture warrior who is well connected in the neoconservative Catholic Right. While the Jesuits are well known for their open-mindedness and temperate outlook that clearly reflects the current Jesuit pope, Opus Dei members are equally known for their rigidity and role in the conservative movement inside and outside the Church.
The investigation of Bishop Finn could turn out to be a transformative moment in the history of the child sex abuse scandal, in the American culture wars and indeed, in the history of the Church.