Rome--3 groups write lay panel re Finn’s upcoming ordinations
For immediate release: Wednesday, May 13
Three groups: Finn should not ordain new priests
Bishop was convicted for not reporting child abuse images
Last month, three years late, prelate finally resigned
But Catholic officials are letting him ordain priests & deacons
Organizations say his “continued visibility hurts parishioners and victims”
Three groups concerned about clergy sex crimes and cover ups are urging a Catholic panel to stop a convicted bishop from ordaining priests and deacons in two ceremonies later this month.
Members of BishopAccountability.org, the National Survivor Advocacy Coalition (NSAC), and the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priest (SNAP) are concerned about Bishop Robert Finn who resigned last month, three years after he was criminally convicted of failing to report suspected child sex crimes by a priest.
The organizations are writing the National Review Board, a group of lay Catholics charged with working with US bishops across on the sexual abuse of minors. http://www.usccb.org/about/child-and-youth-protection/the-national-review-board.cfm
A fourth group, the Boston-based Voice of the Faithful, is expected to write the NRB today expressing the same concern. (Contact Donna Doucette, firstname.lastname@example.org)
They are asking that the group demand that the US Conference of Catholic Bishops ban Bishop Finn from presiding over the upcoming May 16 and May 23 ordination of priests and deacons. Finn was allowed to resign last month, after years of outcry from victims and Catholics over his conviction and his handling of the Fr. Shawn Ratigan case. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/22/us/missouri-bishop-convicted-of-shielding-pedophile-priest-resigns.html?_r=0
“A convicted and disgraced bishop is the last person who should be ordaining a new priest,” the letter said. “What kind of message does it send when a man who could not pass the background check in his own diocese is the one ordaining new priests? Does his crime mean nothing? Do the children Ratigan abused mean nothing?”
The groups fear that if Finn has any public role, victims will be less likely to report abuse and that wrong-doers will feel like they can easily get a “free pass” for covering up abuse. They also worry about the feelings and morale of Kansas City Catholics, many of whom want healing and closure and are dismayed by Finn’s continued visibility in the church.
“There are dozens of less-objectionable bishops who are a short plane ride from Kansas City,” the letter continued. “Why can’t one of them officiate at the ordination? Why celebrate a man who deliberately put children in the path of a predator? Finn is not a leader, and allowing him to remain in a position of power is not healing for anyone.”
The groups also want reassurance that Finn will be assigned a life of “prayer and penance” and will not be allowed any public or powerful roles in the church in Kansas City, the US or the Vatican.
Here are earlier statements by each of the group’s about Finn’s resignation:
A copy of the groups’ letter, sent today by email to the Board (via the US Conference of Catholic Bishops), to board chair Francesco Cesareo (via the university he works at, 508-767-7321, email@example.com) and to the papal nuncio in Washington DC), is below:
Members of the National Lay Review Board
c/o US Conference of Catholic Bishops
3211 Fourth Street NE
Washington, DC 20017
Dear Members of the National Lay Review Board:
We are members of three organizations: BishopAccountability.org, the National Survivors Advocate Coalition, and SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. We are writing you today to express our dismay at the news that Bishop Robert Finn has been given special permission to perform ordinations of new priests and deacons in the Kansas City diocese later this month.
As you surely know, in 2012, Finn was convicted of failing to report suspected child pornography in the case of the now-convicted and defrocked priest Shawn Ratigan. Last month, Finn after years of outcry from victims and Catholics, was allowed to resign.
What kind of message does it send when a man who could not pass the background check in his own diocese is the one ordaining new priests? Does his crime mean nothing? Do the children Ratigan abused mean nothing? Does the pain of parishioners mean nothing?
A convicted and disgraced bishop is the last person who should be ordaining a new priest or deacon.
Finn should have no public role in church life at this point. He should hold no positions of power. He should be assigned a life or prayer and penance out of respect for the victims, who will never be able to undo what Ratigan did to them, and out of respect for thousands of betrayed and wounded Kansas City Catholics.
There are dozens of less objectionable bishops a short plane ride away from Kansas City. Why can’t one of them officiate at the ordination? Why give honor and prominence to a man who deliberately put children in the path of a suspected predator? Letting Finn lead these ordinations is not healing for anyone.
We ask that you take immediate action and demand that Finn’s role at the ordination—and any public role he may have at a later date—be revoked. We also urge you to ensure that Finn is not given any powerful or ceremonial role in the United States or the Vatican.
At this point, taking action on Finn is important. If nothing else, you can publicly denounce this move. We hope you will do so promptly.
Anne Barrett Doyle, BishopAccountability.org, 781-439-5208, firstname.lastname@example.org
Kristine Ward, National Survivor Advocates Coalition, 937-272-0308, Kristine Ward@hotmail.com
Terry McKiernan, BishopAccountability.org, 508-479-9304, email@example.com
David Clohessy, SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, 314-566-9790, firstname.lastname@example.org