April 21, 2015
Pope Francis Accepts Resignation Of Robert Finn, Bishop Accused Of Covering Up For Pedophile Priest

Pope Francis accepted the resignation Tuesday of Robert Finn, a Roman Catholic bishop who in 2012 pleaded guilty to covering up the activities of a pedophile priest in his diocese, MSN is reporting.

Until his resignation, Robert Finn was the Bishop of the Diocese of Kansas City - Saint Joseph, in northwestern Missouri. In 2012, he was sentenced to two years' probation for waiting six months to report the activities of a pedophile priest in his diocese. Finn continued to serve as Bishop while on probation, despite calls from other clergy and his parishioners for the Pope to remove him.

In December, 2010, a priest in Finn's Diocese - Shawn Ratigan - took a laptop computer in for repairs, according to The New York Daily News. The computer technician found hundreds of lewd photos of young girls that appeared to have been taken in and around churches in the Diocese. For reasons that aren't clear, the computer technician took the information to church officials instead of the police.

Finn, rather than going to the police, instead sent the priest to a monastery for treatment and ordered him to stay away from kids. Instead, the priest continued to attend church - and continued to photograph young girls - until church officials, over Finn's objections, finally turned him in to police. Ratigan is currently serving 50 years for child pornography charges in a federal prison.

Bishop Finn was convicted of misdemeanor charges of failure to report suspected child abuse and sentenced to two years' supervised probation.

Finn remains the highest-ranking Roman Catholic church official in the U.S. to be convicted of a crime in connection with pedophile priests. No bishops have been removed by the Vatican in the U.S. in relation to the church sex-abuse scandal.

Even as Pope Francis pledged to crack down on pedophile priests, and those who would cover for them at the beginning of his papacy, others within the church believe that the Pope's refusal to take direct action on Finn is evidence of foot-dragging. History professor Christopher Bellitto, in remarks to the Post, says that the Pope's acceptance of Finn's resignation is a step in the right direction.

"It's two steps forward for credibility, but one step back because it took too long."
Do you believe Pope Francis needs to be more aggressive in punishing pedophile priests and bishops who cover for them? Share your thoughts in the Comments below.

[Image courtesy of: Shutterstock/giulio napolitano]