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Bishop Serving Probation For Involvement In Pedophile Case, Some Call For Stronger Apology

The bishop has been described as 'aloof' and 'defensive' by priests in his diocese.

Kansas City, MO — Reverand Matthew Brumleve is waiting for an apology. Like many other priests in the diocese headed by Bishop Robert Finn, he is waiting for the bishop to give a “robust” apology for his actions.

Father Brumleve wants to know why — when Finn knew that one of his priests was exploiting children, photographing hundreds of pornographic images, and storing them on his computer — the bishop didn’t turn the priest over to authorities.

Finn is the leader of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph and “an outspoken conservative in the American hierarchy,” according to USA Today. Not so outspoken, however, that he would turn one of his own priests over to authorities even after discovering that the Reverand Shawn Ratigan had taken hundreds of lewd images of children in Catholic schools and parishes.

Instead, Finn sent Ratigan to a convent and called it good. While the crimes were discovered by Finn in December of 2010, authorities were not notified until another priest notified went over the bishop’s head to notify police in May 2011.

In the trial, Finn became the first US bishop ever convicted in criminal court for “shielding an abusive priest.” Finn received two years of probation but is back to work, performing his duties as the leader of 87 parishes and 130,000 people.

“Some say he has made that apology, he has said he’s sorry, but he hasn’t told us what he’s sorry for,” said the Rev. Matthew Brumleve, pastor at Holy Family in Kansas City and another 20-year veteran of the diocese. “Is he sorry he got caught? Is he sorry we don’t see things the way he sees them? Or is he truly sorry for letting down the children of this diocese?”

Father Brumleve, according to The New York Times, believes that Finn “did not see the necessity of offering a more robust apology.”

“That’s going to be the millstone around our neck until that happens,” he said.

While Finn has decided to stay and go on with his responsibilities, The NY Times received responses from 32 of the 40 priests under Finn’s leadership about whether or not Finn should resign.

Half of the priests suggested the bishop resign.

“The Bishop looks forward to continuing to perform his duties, including carrying out the important obligations placed on him by the Court,” Finn’s spokesman, Jack Smith, said in a statement to Religion News Service shortly after Finn’s conviction.

No matter how the diocese feels about Finn, Pope Benedict XVI is the only one with the authority to forcefully remove a bishop from office. And the Vatican has remained silent on the issue thus far.

During the priests’ annual retreat in November, Finn denied that he had done anything wrong by protecting Ratigan from authorities, according to two priests who were in attendance.

“For the good of the diocese and the church, I think he should apologize and resign. Then a new bishop can begin the healing process,” said the Reverend Thomas Reese, a fellow at Georgetown University’s Woodstock Theological Center.

In court, evidence addressed by prosecutors showed that Finn, 59, had received numerous complaints about Ratigan’s behavior over the course of a year beginning in December 2010. Not only did Finn ignore the complaints, but he even failed to inform authorities even after Ratigan attempted suicide.

Ratigan, 46, pleaded guilty to federal child pornography charges and is awaiting sentencing.

Do you think the Pope should remove Finn from his duties?

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3 Responses to “Bishop Serving Probation For Involvement In Pedophile Case, Some Call For Stronger Apology”

  1. Judy Block-Jones

    The KC judge found Finn guilty of concealing and not reporting sex crimes against innocent little girls. This has NEVER happened to a US bishop before. and there are many other bishops who could have been sitting in that court room and been found guilty also. So we can not expect any of the other bishops to confront Finn.

    Church officials are not able to police themselves because there is no punishment for the bishops who break their own rules. Victims deserve to be treated with respect no matter how long ago their abuse happened, Child predators need to be exposed and removed from their ministries no matter how old the allegations, because they can never be trusted to be around children.

    The KC diocese sexual abuse cover up is not an isolated case by any means.
    Even though Bishop Finn received no jail time, he is now deemed a criminal, he can not even pass the Catholic Conference of Bishops' own "child protection back ground check". and therefore he needs to be defrocked from the priesthood.

    Until a bishop is jailed nothing will change, and kids are still not safe today.

    Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director,
    (SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests).

  2. Kay Goodnow

    This man Finn is so arrogant and so morally bankrupt that he has no credibility left, at least as far as I can see. I am very proud of the priests who have openly asked him to resign and ashamed of the ones who chose to hide. He has a long history or protecting pedophile priests, cannot even say Mass if there are children present and has violated every child in the diocese in one way or another. I am proud of the parents of Ratigan's victims and hope that they will be able to live beyond the crimes that Finn enabled.

  3. Chuck Schrankel

    Kudos to Father Matthew for going on the record. I'm sure it's considered a bold career move in the church but Matt is really one of the good ones. And the answer to the question is yes, the Pope should remove Bishop Finn.

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