KC bishop delegates away diocesan legal authority

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- In what seems to be a sign that the first bishop criminally charged in the decades-long clergy sex abuse crisis is acknowledging his legal defense may create a conflict of interest with his role as leader of his diocese, Bishop Robert Finn announced Friday creation of a new episcopal vicar with "decision-making" power over the diocese's own legal options.

Both Finn and his Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., diocese face trial this September in Jackson County, Mo., over separate criminal charges of failure to report suspect child abuse concerning their actions regarding a priest arrested last year for possession of child pornography.

The new role, quietly announced Friday afternoon on the website of the diocesan paper, seems to indicate that the diocese and bishop are for the first time publicly recognizing that legal decisions made by one could negatively impact the other.

According to the announcement, diocesan priest Fr. Patrick Rush, a local pastor who had previously served as vicar general of the diocese, is now serving as "Episcopal Vicar with Special Mandate." In that role, the announcement says, Rush "will provide 'independent representation, deliberation, and decision-making with executive power' concerning the crimin...

Read the whole story here: http://ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/kc-bishop-signifies-conflict-delegates-away-diocesan-legal-authority 

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