Pope accepts Bishop’s resignation
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – Pope Francis accepted the resignation Tuesday of a United States bishop who was convicted of failing to report a suspected child abuser, answering calls by victims to take action against bishops who cover up for paedophile priests.
Bishop Robert Finn, who led the Diocese of Kansas City-St Joseph in Missouri for nearly ten years, resigned under canon law that allows bishops to resign early for illness or some “grave” reason that makes them unfit for office. But his resignation did not provide a specific reason.
Finn, 62, is 13 years shy of the normal retirement age of 75.
In 2012, Finn was found guilty of one misdemeanour count of failure to report suspected abuse and was sentenced to two years of probation, making him the highest-ranking church official in the U.S. to be convicted of not taking action in response to abuse allegations.
Prosecutors say the diocese did not notify police until six months after concerns were raised in 2011 about the Rev. Shawn Ratigan, whose computers were found to contain hundreds of lewd photos of young girls.
Since the convictions, Finn has faced pressure to resign, including local and national petition drives asking the pope to remove him from the diocese.
The removal was praised by Marie Collins, a prominent member of Francis’ own sex abuse advisory board who had called for Finn to go and demanded that the Vatican hold bishops accountable when they fail to protect children.
“Things are moving slowly, as I have said many times, but they are moving in the right direction!” Collins tweeted.
Francis appointed Archbishop Joseph Naumann, head of the Kansas City, Kansas, diocese, to lead the Missouri diocese until Finn’s successor is named. In a letter to the diocese, Naumann said he prayed “that the coming weeks and months will be a time of grace and healing”. Naumann will retain his duties in Kansas.
Finn, who apologised for Ratigan’s abuse and took measures to make the diocese safer for children, urged followers to pray for his successor.