With the resignation of Bishop Robert Finn, “bishop-accountability” begins. Pope Francis will choose his successor.
This comes right on the heels of headlines announcing that confirmed abuse allegations against Catholic priests were in the single digits for 2014. One allegation is too many, but clearly the zero-tolerance measures put into place over the last ten-or-so years, and the laicization of hundreds of bad priests under Pope Benedict XVI is having the desired effect.
As to the ouster of Finn, it is not unexpected. Ears to the ground, we’d heard the bishops and advisers counselling Pope Francis were insisting that for the good of the church and the healing of its abuse victims, it was time to take effective action at higher levels — specifically against those bishops who had not been pro-active in responding to allegations. In Finn’s case, this is kind of a no-brainer; he is the first and only bishop to be convicted of “failing to report a suspected abuser.”
His failure happened during a time when the sexual abuse of minors by priests was a live and daily story. No bishop has any excuse to not be hyper-vigilant and careful, but for Finn to be inattentive at a time when the whole church was reeling and disgusted and extremely aware of her sins suggests that he was not giving due diligence to serious issues. At the very least he was inept, at worst, gravely negligent, and if he could be negligent on this matter, what other important balls might he dropping?
Some will call this a witch-hunt, but I don’t think so. When pruning begins, the most visibly compromised branches go first.
And a fair question: Now that Finn is gone, will Francis take another look at Barros?
Pray for all of our bishops and for the ppl of Kansas City-St. Josephs, and for our pope.