Debate: Bishop Finn’s Future As Church Leader

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- There are renewed calls for Catholic Bishop Robert Finn to step down after his conviction for failing to report child abuse.

"It matters to us less what sanctions the pope issues, it matters to us more that the pope take some action against a proven criminal," said David Clohessy, executive director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

Some Catholics are divided over who should be leading the diocese in Kansas City-St. Joseph now that Bishop Finn is the highest ranking Catholic leader ever to be convicted as part of the church's child sex abuse scandal.

Defenders of the bishop say they are relieved the criminal case against him is finally over. But opponents say they will continue to push for change in the Catholic church as victims of abuse move forward with civil suits against the diocese.

Bishop Finn's apology in court wasn't enough for families who say their children were victims of sexual abuse at the hands of one Finn's priests, Father Shawn Ratigan. It was Bishop Finn's failure to report suspicions about Ratigan in a timely manner that led to his criminal conviction.

Attorney Rebecca Randles represents about a dozen of Ratigan's victims, children who were between 2- and 9-years-old. She says their parents are sad that Finn never accepted personal responsibility for his actions.

"When someone has engaged in such a grave dereliction of duty that children were actually harmed, that really should be something that they look at," Randles said. "To determine whether this individual is appropriate for the position he is in."

But the bishop's defenders say the diocese is ready to move on. They say as the result of the bishop's own actions, the diocese now has an office of youth protection, improved internal communications and an independent ombudsman that handles all investigations into allegations of child sex abuse.

"We have some steps in place to heal our diocese," said Jude Huntz, chancellor of the diocese. "In the middle of October our priests will be gathering at their annual convocation. They will be having a workshop on how to go forward, how to heal the people in our parishes."

In court Finn pledged protection of children will be paramount and sexual abuse of any kind will not be tolerated. Some claim it's too late for the bishop to make good on that commitment.

Finn will serve two years on probation. If he completes all of the conditions imposed on him, his criminal record would be wiped clean.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.