A group of Roman Catholics based in Kansas City has taken the rare step of petitioning Pope Francis to discipline Bishop Robert Finn of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.
The formal request, initiated by a Milwaukee priest and parishioners in the Kansas City area, including a nun, was sent to the Vatican along with an online petition signed by more than 113,000 people worldwide asking for the bishop’s removal.
Finn was convicted in 2012 on a misdemeanor charge of failing to report a priest involved in child pornography. Finn was placed on two years of court-supervised probation.
“The priest’s crime that Bishop Finn concealed from civil authorities was of great magnitude,” said the Rev. James Connell, a priest and canon lawyer from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, in a letter to the pope.
“Thus, the harm done by Bishop Finn also was of great magnitude. Yet Catholic Church authorities have taken no action against Bishop Finn that would provide justice and repair scandal, and this lack of action adds to the ongoing scandal of the clergy sexual abuse crisis.”
A spokesman for Finn’s office said the diocese had received a copy of the materials.
“Bishop Finn has his supporters and his detractors, and people are free to have their own opinion about what happens here,” said the diocese’s communication director, Jack Smith. “The Diocese and Bishop Finn remain focused and committed to the strengthened reporting and training programs which are creating safer environments in our schools and parishes.”