Finn should NOT ordain anyone
by SNAP outreach director Barbara Dorris
We applaud the few Kansas City priests who are speaking up against the plan by three top Catholic officials – including Pope Francis’ US representative – to let Bishop Robert Finn preside over two ordinations next month.
We beg more Kansas City priests – and parishioners – to join this effort.
We beg the church hierarchy to listen to their cries.
We beg the soon-to-be-ordained deacons to speak up and oppose this too.
And we beg Pope Francis to name a permanent head of the diocese who is a parish priest, not a church bureaucrat.
The temporary head of the diocese, Archbishop Joseph Naumann, told the Kansas City Star “Bishop Finn resigned, and the Holy See has accepted it. But he doesn't disappear from the face of the Earth. ... He still is a bishop."
That’s a callous non-explanation for a controversial, hurtful plan. A surgeon who was ousted shouldn’t be doing surgery. A police officer who stepped shouldn’t be arresting people. And a bishop who resigned shouldn’t be acting like a bishop, especially when his actions will only prolong years of already intense and easily avoidable pain.
This plan was approved by Naumann, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano (the “papal nuncio to the US in Washington DC, Pope Francis’ chief US aide) and Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet (the head of the Congregation for Bishops in Rome). Shame on them.
The lesson here is that the feelings of a handful of clerics trump the feelings of hundreds of victims and thousands of Catholics. The lesson is that despite decades of child sex crimes and cover ups, caused largely by clerics who put themselves above parishioners, clerics still put themselves above parishioners.
It’s said that the deacons want Finn to be at the ordinations. That may or may not be true. But many Catholics want their bishop to do things he should not or cannot do. A bishop, as a leader, must decline many opportunities.
It’s said that “Finn has been a mentor and a guide to these men.” That’s likely true. And, if they want a convicted criminal to keep being their mentor and guide, that’s their choice. But it shouldn’t be a highly public and visible role or position or relationship that
It’s said that these events were planned long ago. That’s certainly true. But there are more than 400 active or retired bishops in the US. All it takes is one of them to step in for Finn.
It’s said that top Catholic officials – in Rome and in DC – have blessed Finn’s plans. That’s likely true. But it’s also irrelevant and hurtful. It’s pretty clear by now that just because a high ranking Catholic bureaucrat approves something, it isn’t necessarily good for victims or parishioners.
It’s said that “Finn’s been punished enough.” But this isn’t about hurting Finn. It’s about helping KC victims and parishioners, most of whom desperately want and need this long nightmare to end.
(Besides, Finn’s been let off pretty easy. He’s still a priest. He’s actually still a bishop. He’s still living in his lush home, which was and is paid for by parishioners. He still gets his paycheck, health insurance, dental plan, car allowance and all the rest. And he enabled child sex crimes, got his expensive defense paid for by others, was convicted but avoided jail.)
Catholic officials – especially Finn - have caused enough hurt in Kansas City. Can’t they see how self-serving this callous plan looks to others? Can’t they let these deacons and their families celebrate without putting a convicted criminal front and center in the ceremony?
Finally, we call on Pope Francis to pick, as the next bishop of Kansas City, a parish priest with no chancery office or church headquarters’ ties. KC Catholics deserve to be led by a bishop who has focused on service, not self-promotion or ladder-climbing or career-building.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 22,000 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)