How about Zero Tolerance For Bishop Finn?
Frank Cocozzelli printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 09:28:20 AM EST
Newly installed Pope Francis is on record regarding the Church and child abuse: Zero tolerance.   Whether his papacy has any credibility on the matter may depend on how he handles the situation of Bishop Robert Finn who heads the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri.
While serving as a Cardinal, Pope Francis could not have been clearer:

I do not believe in taking positions that uphold a certain corporative spirit in order to avoid damaging the image of the institution. That solution was proposed once in the United States: they proposed switching the priests to a different parish. It is a stupid idea; that way, the priest just takes the problem with him wherever he goes. The corporate reaction leads to such a result, so I do not agree with those solutions.

Indeed the Church, as an institution, has been damaged by "a certain corporative spirit," one that elevates protecting priests over either transparency or protecting children. And She has been damaged because children - Her most vulnerable members -- have been sexually violated. Perpetually, the Church's reaction has not been swift action, such as the immediate removal of a pedophile priest from all contact with children, followed by a surrender of the accused to the proper civil authorities along with relevant documentation. Instead, there has been a shell game of moving molesters from parish to parish; out-of-court settlements based upon non-disclosure agreements; and attacks on the victims themselves and the organizations that speak out for them.

This must stop.  What must also stop is the appearance if not the fact of indifference towards the victims,  as well as the religious supremacism of seeking to hold to a double standard of criminal justice: One for Catholic clergy -- and another for everyone else.   The new Pope can accomplish this by letting his actions speak as loudly as his words as a Cardinal.  An excellent place to begin is in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri where Bishop Finn is still in charge -- well over six months after being convicted of failing to report suspected child abuse.

His conviction stems from the prosecution of Fr. Shawn Ratigan who has since pleaded guilty in Federal Court to four counts of producing child pornography and one count of attempted production of child pornography. As I reported here and here, Bishop Finn had constructive knowledge of Ratigan's improper touching of young girls and possession of child pornography.  I've written here that Bishop Finn must go.

But if the Pope's better angels are set to wing, they would be be opposed by the American Catholic Right led by prominent neoconservatives and members of Opus Dei. Finn, after all, is a member of Opus Dei as well as a culture warrior, par excellence, having called for "the Church militant." Indeed, he has powerful friends.

But there are some indications that Francis may turn out to be more a Pope of the poor than the powerful and if that is so, perhaps more likely to take action against those who victimize the vulnerable and the defenseless instead of protecting those who abuse the power of their position. While being reliably conservative on issues such as marriage equality and reproductive rights, his views seem to be more in the mainstream of Catholic economic thought. He is also a Jesuit, the bête-noir order to the secretive rightist order, Opus Dei.  Another significant indication of his approach came on Holy Thursday when he washed the feet of several prisoners that included two women, one being Muslim - an act that has caused über-traditionalists to howl.

But whether he will take action against Finn and all those who similarly failed in their responsibilities, remains to be seen.

Catholic Neocons won't like this:

Francis also received the cardinals' pledges of obedience after his election not from a chair on a pedestal as popes normally do but rather standing, on their same level. For traditionalists who fondly recall the days when popes were carried on a sedan chair, that may have stung. In the days since, he has called for "intensified" dialogue with Islam -- a gesture that rubs traditionalists the wrong way because they view such a heavy focus on interfaith dialogue as a sign of religious relativism.

Francis may have rubbed salt into the wounds with his comments at the Good Friday procession at Rome's Colosseum, which re-enacts Jesus Christ's crucifixion, praising "the friendship of our Muslim brothers and sisters" during a prayer ceremony that recalled the suffering of Christians in the Middle East.

Francis also raised traditional eyebrows when he refused the golden pectoral cross offered to him right after his election by Monsignor Guido Marini, the Vatican's liturgy guru who under Benedict became the symbol of Benedict's effort to restore the Gregorian chant and heavy silk brocaded vestments of the pre-Vatican II liturgy to papal Masses.

by Frank Cocozzelli on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 01:48:04 PM EST

Francis's preference for simplicity is a breath of fresh air. Let's hope it signals positive changes, and that Finn is ousted.

by khughes1963 on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 07:54:08 PM EST

Evidently they've made their displeasure known on Rorate Caeli and similar blogs.

by khughes1963 on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 07:55:18 PM EST

The popes have been for far too long deified to the level even higher than kings were. When they added infallibility to it made popes godheads. When will they stop? No wonder the Catholic Church's past is littered with atrocities both inside and outside the church. We shall see if Pope Francis I is something more than his words.

by Nightgaunt on Tue Oct 01, 2013 at 09:48:41 PM EST

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