Getting rid of Bishop Finn a big step for the Vatican

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Coat of Arms of Bishop Robert Finn

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Coat of Arms of Bishop Robert Finn

Coat of Arms of Bishop Robert Finn

Coat of Arms of Bishop Robert Finn

“A tiny but belated step forward” is how David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, reacted to the Vatican’s announcement of the resignation of Kansas City Bishop Robert Finn. Yes, it was belated. But it’s a big step forward.

Two-and-a-half years ago Finn was found guilty of the misdemeanor crime of failing to report a priest suspected of child abuse to civil authorities. The way Catholic League President Bill Donohue tells it, Finn behaved correctly — but Donohue, as he has for years in this matter, is blowing smoke.

Finn did exactly what bishops used to do all the time: cover up a priest’s sexually abusive behavior and give the priest another job in the diocese. And he did it in contravention of the American bishops’ own rules. And none of them made a public peep about it.

Sure, it would have been good if the Vatican had gone ahead and given the reason for the resignation. Sure, there are others who deserve Finnistration, such as Archbishop Nienstedt in the Twin Cities and the mistakenly ordained Bishop Juan Barros in Chile. And sure, it remains to be seen if, as promised, Rome promulgates tough disciplinary procedures for bishops charged with covering up abuse cases. But none of this should be allowed to minimize the significance of what happened today.

Last month, Clohessy leveled sharp criticism at Pope Francis for not doing what he’s now done: “By keeping Finn on the job, he’s essentially saying to bishops ‘When it comes to kids’ safety, no matter how egregiously and illegally you act, no worries! Your job is safe.'”

Now, by getting rid of Finn, the pope is essentially saying to bishops, “When it comes to kids’ safety, if you’ve acted egregiously and illegally, start worrying! Your job is not safe.”

  • Judy Jones

    “Finn did exactly what bishops used to do all the time:” — Sorry, as long as they can get away with it, they are still doing it.

    Finally Bishop Finn has been ousted. But this delayed removal should only be the beginning.
    The sex abuse and cover up within the church hierarchy throughout the world is still going on to this day. Cardinals and bishops are still not removing accused predator clergy, and they are not reporting to law enforcement. The church’s so called “zero tolerance” policy is not being followed by the bishops who created it. Hopefully, now that other church officials know that it is possible to be held accountable for covering up child sex crimes, children will be protected rather than the predator. Like we say, this is only a start for holding accountable those who cover up child sex crimes.

    Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director, USA, .snapjudy@gmail.com,
    SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests)

  • opheliart

    Now, by getting rid of Finn, the pope is essentially saying to bishops, “When it comes to kids’ safety, if you’ve acted egregiously and illegally, start worrying! Your job is not safe.”

    ” … by getting rid of Finn, the pope is saying?”

    Gee, Mark, you make it sound like the pope is at their heels cracking the whip. Um, no … certain individuals/organizations are covering for him—them. Imagine that, Mark.

  • Chaplain Norman Martin

    Should have happened in the 70’s and 80’s. A Catholic priest who was serving time in the prison which I worked in the 80’s was allowed to be deported back to his nation of origin. There he could go on doing what got him in prison in Georgia.
    Protestant churches have allowed ministers and staff member to resign to go to another church a continue ruining lives.

    If you suspect or know of child abuse in your church REPORT IT TO THE GOVERNMENT AUTHORITIES. Never just tell a priest or a minister. The pressure of liability insurance companies and the help of organizations such as GRACE have led churches to put into place policies and procedures to protect children from abuse. Of course a policy is useless if the procedures are not followed.

    God didn’t call us to be stupid. Remember “beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing”.

  • Chaplain Norman Martin

    Judy Jones,
    Thank you for your words and for an organization like SNAP. Good to know there are many voices, not only “crying in the wilderness” but being heard. No church or congregation is equipped to do proper investigations of abuse.

    I have written on this issue many times and helped put forth a proper Policy and procedures in my home church.

  • Glenn Harrell

    “Now, by getting rid of Finn, the pope is essentially saying to bishops, “When it comes to kids’ safety, if you’ve acted egregiously and illegally, start worrying! Your job is not safe.”

    We can only hope that is what he is saying. Was and is this really such a moral heavyweight matter that only a Pope can solve it? And if so, the question why is screaming louder than ever. I am not quite ready to call the pope a hero or any of the other leaders who hide until it is safe or not.

    The Catholic slow-hand of discipline and the hierarchy family of self-servants have stained forever the reputation of a faith that has no room for further disgrace. The public is still not convinced of their piety and repentance.

    Sackcloth and ashes are in order?

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  • Empirical1

    Addressing the broader issues beyond this news report, much of what is commonly believed about pedophilia/child sex abuse is based on the presumption that all child/older person sexually expressed relationships are intrinsically pervasively harmful. But is this supposed harm intrinsic to the interaction, or does it instead result from the social hysteria that occurs when such a relationship is discovered? There are no legitimate data supporting intrinsic harmfulness, and no credible pathway or mechanism for such harm has been demonstrated. For further discussion, see http://www.shfri.net/mech/mech.cgi

    here are indeed some people who trick or force children into unwanted sexual interactions. But there are vast differences between consensual sexually expressed child/older person relationships and unilateral “child sexual abuse” by an older person. For a scientific journal discussion of these distinctions as they apply to boys, go to http://www.boyandro.info

  • Chaplain Norman Martin

    “But there are vast differences between consensual sexually expressed child/older person relationships and unilateral “child sexual abuse” by an older person.”

    The convicted felons in my psychotherapy group at a state prison would have really liked your comment. Do pedophiles actually believe a child of 3 and older could give informed consent to a sexual relationship. I have a feeling the web site is about boy/men lovers. I would not recommend anyone opening that site you listed.

    In my years as a clinical chaplain and Licensed Professional counselor, I have counseled many adults who were molested (usually raped) as a child and I can tell you their childhood was taken away and they suffered as adults.

  • Glenn Harrell

    Childhood and innocence stolen, never to return.

    Youth and adulthood scarred and relationships distorted as counseling continues (hopefully) and the reality that the memory, though lessened over time, is never going away entirely.

    The perpetrator assured that normalcy would always be a fantasy for their victim.

    So, I think by your saying, “they suffered” as past tense, really included present realities?

    I have the greatest respect for all those who live and work with this experience in their past. Especially those victims who work to forgive, love and move on with their lives.
    May God bless them with peace and love.

    May the perpetrators find help as well and may this help include restitution along with appropriate punishment for their crime (s).

    I have great appreciation to you and all who are there to help them with the pieces. No small thing.

  • Betty Clermont

    Why now after 25 months of this pontificate? Because the pope has been heavily criticized for his appointment of Juan Barros as bishop of Osorno, Chile, even though clerical sex abuse survivors claimed Barros not only witnessed their abuse but also covered-up for the priest. After a near-riot at his installation Mass, the two clerical sex abuse survivors on the pope’s do-nothing sex abuse commission threatened to quit. A monumental PR disaster was averted by throwing Finn under the bus.

  • Chaplain Martin

    You correct Glenn, the effect of the abuse is ongoing, I should not have put it in the past tense. Sometimes a person seems to be making real progress at moving ahead with his/her life only to have an event cause a flash back. Like living the horror all over again.

  • KCMike

    I learned that statist governments have as a major ploy to attack their competition for the minds and hearts of the people, the Church, by arresting all the priests they can find. And guess what the charge ALWAYS is? Easy guess isn’t it? St. Pope JPII wrote of this more than once, I heard.