Out: KC replaces vicar who oversaw clergy abuse charges

Out: KC replaces vicar who oversaw clergy abuse charges June 25, 2011

This item moved while I was out of town, but it’s a significant step, involving a priest at the center of the Kansas City sex abuse crisis who himself was once accused of abuse:

The vicar general for the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph no longer will oversee sexual-abuse allegations against priests, the diocese announced Wednesday.

Monsignor Robert Murphy, who has come under fire for his handling of a priest recently charged with possessing child pornography, will be replaced in that role, according to the diocese.

The Rev. Joseph Powers has been named the vicar for clergy, a new position.

The announcement came on the same day that a legal step was taken by plaintiffs who received a $10 million settlement from the diocese in 2008 in a sexual-abuse lawsuit.

On Wednesday, plaintiffs demanded the case be sent to an arbitrator, claiming the diocese has failed to abide by some of the settlement’s terms that were designed to protect children from abuse. The diocese has said it is complying in all ways.

The diocese’s announcement about Powers said he will assume some of the duties previously assigned to Murphy.

“As Vicar for Clergy, Father Powers will serve as a liaison for diocesan priests and oversee assignments as well as pastoral effectiveness,” the diocese said in a statement. “Father Powers also will assist the bishop with any allegations of clerical misconduct and will serve as an ex officio member of the Diocesan Independent Review Board.”

Powers will continue as pastor of the Co-Cathedral in St. Joseph, the diocese said.

“With Father Powers assuming the duties of Vicar for Clergy, we strengthen our administrative oversight of the diocese and draw upon Father Powers’ pastoral experience in urban, rural and suburban parishes throughout the diocese,” Bishop Robert Finn said in the statement.

Murphy will continue to have responsibility for general administration, directly supervising chancery employees and serving on diocesan boards and committees, Finn said. He also will remain as pastor of St. Bridget parish in Pleasant Hill.

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2 responses to “Out: KC replaces vicar who oversaw clergy abuse charges”

  1. Monsignor Robert Murphy, who was accused and should have been interviewed by the Lay Review Board for an allocation of abuse served as the “go-to guy” when child abuse was suspected in the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.

    What can Bishop Robert Finn have been thinking??

    It’s a slap in the face to all victims by Bishop Finn to believe the best man for the job of protecting children is a man accused of abuse.

    Arrogance by the bishop sums up his actions. The Dallas chapter does not cover the issue of a bishop who wants to rule without valuing the “People of God”. No document can overcome such foolhearty actions.

  2. Bishop Finn and Msgr Murphy should go to JAIL for reckless child endangerment.

    Imagine if this happened at a Chucky Cheese Restaurant. An employee had child porn pictures that he took of children inside Chucky Cheese. Management knew about it, but hid the pictures and allowed the employee further access to small children.

    Customers would boycott Chucky Cheese and have every manager thrown in jail, all the way up to the CEO.

    We can’t expect the Catholic church to rise to the standards of Chucky Cheese, but they should at least have to follow the basic laws of humanity and the laws of the land.

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