Bishop’s conviction intensifies calls to step down
Soon after a Missouri judge found Finn guilty Thursday of one misdemeanor count of failing to report suspected child sexual abuse to the state, unhappy Roman Catholics began discussing ways to get the bishop out of office on a Facebook page titled “Bishop Finn Must Go.”
Among the posts was one that listed contact information for the Vatican and urged parishioners to voice their displeasure with Finn at the highest levels. Pope Benedict XVI alone has authority over bishops. Through the decades-long abuse scandal, only one U.S. bishop has stepped down over his failures to stop abusive clergy: Cardinal Bernard Law, who in 2002 resigned as head of the Archdiocese of Boston.
Jackson County Judge John M. Torrence sentenced Finn to two years of supervised probation. If the bishop abides by a set of stipulations from the judge, the conviction will be wiped from his record in 2014.
“Now that our justice system says he’s guilty, he has lost his ability to lead our diocese,” Patricia Rotert, a Catholic church member in Kansas City, said Friday. “He’s lost his credibility. There is turmoil and angst around him and I don’t think he can bring people together.”
Finn’s attorneys would not comment on the bishop’s future in the church, saying it was a legal matter.
However, Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph spokesman Jack Smith indicated that Finn wasn’t going anywhere.
“The bishop looks forward to continuing to perform his duties, including carrying out the important obligations placed on him by the court,” Smith said in an emailed statement Friday.
Finn’s conviction comes four years after the church paid $10 million to settle 47 pending sexual abuse claims against the diocese and 12 of its priests. When announcing that deal in 2008, Finn apologized for the abuse that occurred at the hands of current and former clergy members, and promised that steps were being taken to make sure such abuse never happened again. [More]