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And Yet Finn Remains Bishop

Originally posted at Talk to Action.

It has been well over two years since Bishop Robert Finn and was convicted by a Missouri criminal court for failing to report child abuse by Fr. Shawn Ratigan, one of his parish priests. Within that same period of time Ratigan pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography and is now serving a 50-year sentence in prison. Finn was warned about Ratigan’s behavior but inexplicably waited six months before notifying authorities.

Enter Pope Francis. On a myriad of issues the new pontiff has been a breath of fresh air. But when it comes to removing Bishop Finn as head of the diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph Missouri the air has gotten quite stale. Finn has yet to be removed.

Just last month Cardinal Sean O’Malley was interviewed by the CBS program 60 Minutes. O’Malley is not just any Cardinal but named by his close friend Pope Francis to lead the Vatican’s new sexual abuse commission aimed at strengthening rules to protect children. When the conversation turned to Bishop Finn, Cardinal O’Malley did not mince his words:

Norah O’Donnell: I want to ask you about Robert Finn, who is the bishop of Kansas City/St. Joseph and, as you know, he pleaded guilty to a criminal misdemeanor for not reporting one of his priests to authorities. Bishop Finn wouldn’t be able to teach Sunday school in Boston.
Cardinal Seán O’Malley: That’s right.
Norah O’Donnell: How is that zero tolerance…
Cardinal Seán O’Malley: Well…
Norah O’Donnell: …that he’s still in place? What does it say to Catholics?
Cardinal Seán O’Malley: Well, it’s a question that the Holy See needs to address urgently.
Norah O’Donnell: And there’s a recognition?
Cardinal Seán O’Malley: There’s a recognition of that.
Norah O’Donnell: From Pope Francis?
Cardinal Seán O’Malley: From Pope Francis.
If anything sounded as if Bishop Finn I was on his way out the door, it was that exchange. The 60 Minutes statement struck me as two minute warning that Finn would be sacked within the week. But it was not to be.

It has now been more than a month since that interview. Bishop Finn still remains in charge of the diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. Why is he still there?

Bishop Robert Finn is very antithesis Pope Francis. Where the Pontiff is tolerate and more open-minded, Finn is a shrill cultural warrior. More importantly, Finn – a member of Opus Dei – apparently sees the Catholic Church in terms of being an institution whereas Pope Francis – a Jesuit – often talks about the Church and its relationship with helping the marginalized, such as the poor. The differences in styles and agendas could fill the Grand Canyon. This only makes the Pope’s inaction even more puzzling.

But more than anything else, inaction in this matter only hurts Pope Francis. It undermines his credibility by casting him as a leader who says the right thing but does nothing. As long as Finn remains a bishop in control of a diocese there is a black stain on this papacy.

In stating the obvious, it is time to remove this stain in Missouri.

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Gerald T. Slevin: Mother Petitions President Obama to Combat Organizational Child Sexual Abuse

Another very important posting sent to me today by Jerry Slevin, which relates to his call for President Obama to establish a national commission to combat child sexual abuse.  This gives us something concrete we can do to make our voices heard–sign a petition and circulate it as widely as possible.  What follows is Jerry’s text:

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Gerald T. Slevin: Why President Obama Must Now Act to End Organized Child Abuse

Another extremely important essay by Harvard-trained former Wall Street lawyer Jerry Slevin.  Jerry argues that “it is the right time for President Obama to act” to protect children from childhood sexual abuse, as the Catholic hierarchy clearly remains intent on stonewalling, diverting, and covering up.  What follows is Jerry’s essay:

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Gerald T. Slevin: About Obama’s Papal Victory–Are Bishops and the Pope Now Chastened? Is Constantine’s Curse Now Lifted? Are Catholic Children Now Protected?

Another brilliant posting by Jerry Slevin, which asks what will happen now with the leadership of the Catholic church, after a geo-political strategy which absolutely required it to defeat the current U.S. president has just failed spectacularly in the 2012 U.S. elections.  Here’s Jerry’s response to that question: Continue reading

Gerald T. Slevin: Is Pope Leading a New “Children’s Crusade” to Help Romney Win?

Another outstanding piece this morning by Jerry Slevin.  In this essay, Jerry sketches the historical and political background to the intervention of the Vatican and the U.S. Catholic hierarchy in the 2012 elections, noting the connection of papal politics (and the politicking of the USCCB) to the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic church.  Jerry’s essay follows:  Continue reading

Gerald T. Slevin: After Elections, Who Will Prosecute More Predatory Priests? Constitutional Lawyer Obama Or The Three R’s—Romney, Ryan & Ratzinger? And Why Does It Matter?

Another hard-hitting and exhaustively researched essay by the Harvard-trained former Wall Street lawyer Jerry Slevin today.  Jerry looks at the two U.S. presidential candidates in light of their records in dealing with issues of child abuse and of church and state, and challenges Catholics to inform our consciences as we select a candidate by thinking carefully about why the Vatican and U.S. bishops appear to be playing very overt partisan politics in this election cycle–to assure that the candidate (Romney) more likely to be lenient to Catholic officials prosecuted for criminal activity with child abuse cases is elected.  What follows is Jerry’s essay:  Continue reading

Gerald T. Slevin: Philly DA Must Go Higher

Jerry Slevin has sent one of his wonderful postings.  This one focuses on the unfinished business after Msgr. Lynn has been sentenced in Philadelphia.  What follows is Jerry’s statement: Continue reading