RNS photo courtesy Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph

Pope accepts resignation of Bishop Robert Finn for failing to report abuse

Bishop Finn Abuse

Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., has become the first U.S. bishop to be charged with failing to report the suspected abuse of a child. RNS photo courtesy Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph

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Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of an American bishop who was found guilty of failing to tell police about a suspected pedophile priest.

The Vatican on Tuesday (April 21)  said the pope accepted the resignation of Bishop Robert Finn, who led the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph in Missouri.

The resignation was offered under the code of canon law that allows a bishop "who has become less able to fulfill his office because of ill health or some other grave cause" to resign.

In 2012, Finn pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge for failing to report suspected abuse after the Rev. Shawn Ratigan took hundreds of lewd images of children in Catholic schools and parishes.

Finn became the first U.S. bishop to be convicted in a criminal court of failing to report a suspected abuser and was sentenced to two years' probation.

Ratigan pleaded guilty to child pornography charges and was sentenced to 50 years in prison.

The Vatican's failure to sanction or remove him fueled victims' complaints that bishops were continuing to enjoy protections even under Francis' "zero tolerance" pledge, the Associated Press reported.

A petition calling for Finn to resign on Change.org attracted more than 260,000 supporters.

Jeff Weis, the petition's organizer, said in the document: "The spiritual, emotional, and moral pain that this issue has caused to Finn's fellow clergymen, diocesan employees, volunteers, parishioners and faithful must begin to come to an end."

(Jane Onyanga-Omara writes for USA Today.)