MO--First Catholic official calls for Bishop Finn’s removal
For immediate release: Thursday, March 19
Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, 314 566 9790, SNAPclohessy@aol.com
A member of Pope Francis’ new child sex abuse panel is calling for the removal of Kansas City Bishop Robert Finn. It’s the first time a Catholic official is publicly and explicitly pushing for Finn’s ouster.
Peter Saunders of London was tapped by Pope Francis to be on the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors . He founded and heads a charity for abuse victims called NAPAC (The National Association for People Abused in Childhood).
“If we don’t see real change, if we don’t see the likes of Bishop Finn removed immediately . . .then the committee will be a pointless exercise,” Saunders told The Guardian.
Many pundits, journalists, abuse victims and concerned Catholics have advocated for Finn’s removal. But this is the first time a church official has explicitly done so. It’s especially significant that Saunders has met with Pope Francis and was appointed to the Vatican abuse panel by Francis.
This month, however, marks two anniversaries. It’s the two year anniversary of Francis’ papacy. And it’s the 2.5 year anniversary of Finn’s conviction.
There are two travesties here. First, it’s a travesty that Francis has done nothing to discipline or even denounce Finn. Second, it’s a travesty that – in a world with thousands of Catholic bishops – no one in the Catholic hierarchy except Saunders, a lay person, has found the courage to publicly denounce Finn.
Let’s put this as simply and clearly as we can: With lightening speed, Francis ousted a German bishop who mismanaged church money.
But with glacial speed, Francis ignores a bishop who was convicted of endangering children.
He’s making major strides in improving church finances, governance, morale and posturing on abuse and cover ups. He’s making nearly no meaningful strides to actually prevent abuse and cover ups. And by keeping Finn on the job, he’s essentially saying to bishops “When it comes to kids’ safety, no matter how egregiously and illegally you act, no worries! Your job is safe.”
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We were founded in 1988 and have more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)