Tin Ears, Hard Hearts, and Hubris

The National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) sent letters to 55 Bishops—Archbishops, Bishops, Auxiliary Bishops and Retired Bishops – in Missouri, Kansas, Indiana, Ohio, and Illinois in search of one who would preside in the place of convicted and now resigned Bishop Robert Finn at the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph scheduled May 23rd ordination of candidates for the priesthood.

We offered to pay the transportation expenses for any one of them willing to stand and prevent this travesty from happening.

We are publishing the full text of our letter at this end of this editorial.

Because we have watched the behavior of Bishops in the 13 years since the eruption of the Boston incarnation of the scandal and learned even more from their depositions and dealings with survivors and their families, we know better than to be hopeful that another Bishop will preside in Finn’s stead on Saturday.

For that reason, we included in our letter a second request of the 55 Bishops: that unwilling or unable to preside at the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph’s ordinations, the Bishops at least contact the temporary administrator of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Bishop Joseph Naumann and request that he change the time so that he could perform the ordinations or incorporate the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph seminarians into the ordination ceremony in his diocese (Diocese of Kansas City, Kansas).

Finn presiding at these ordinations is egregious.

For that, in addition to Bishop Naumann, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, Archbishop Vigano, the Vatican’s Apostolic Nuncio (ambassador) to the United States, both of whom approved of this arrangement at the time of Finn’s “voluntary” resignation, April 21, 2015, are responsible.

But ultimately, Pope Francis bears responsibility.

For all the lovely words that have been said about healing, protecting, getting it and moving on in the sexual abuse scandal, – the largest crisis in the Roman Catholic Church in 500 years – this action, allowed to stand, shows the Church’s true colors.

We hope those who plan to be cheering in the streets of the United States’ cities where Pope Francis will travel in September will remember this Saturday in May.

Beyond that, we do have to ask: why are Catholics in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph taking this insult? If they have no care for survivors, do they at least wonder what kind of priests the seminarians who are ordained by Bishop Finn – and who uttered not one word of protest about it – will become in the lifetimes of priesthood ahead of them? Is that the kind of priest they are seeking as leaders of their parishes?

We honor the survivors and their families who will once again bear the cruelty of the Church’s callousness.

The Church’s tin ear in regard to this event is downright appalling but tin ears can be repaired – hardened hearts and hubris prove all the more telling.

— Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) Kristineward@hotmail.com

 

TEXT of the LETTER SENT TO BISHOPS by NSAC:

May 15, 2015 Dear Excellency: We sincerely request that you replace Bishop Robert Finn as the ordaining Bishop for the May 23, 2015 ordination of seminarians to the priesthood in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. We understand Bishop Finn can perform the ordinations but we seek your assistance in preventing yet another blow to the survivors of sexual abuse by priests and members of religious orders of the Roman Catholic Church.

While another Bishop can replace Bishop Finn for this public ceremony, no one can replace a survivor. It is the survivors’ pain that we believe should be a concern of the heart and soul of the Church as these ordinations approach and are carried out by a Bishop who was and remains a central figure in this crisis. There is no way healing can be real and true if actions such as Bishop Finn presiding at ordinations on May 23 following his resignation nearly three years after his conviction are allowed to continue and are viewed as good decisions.

The National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) would be happy to pay your expenses and arrange for your transportation if it would assist you in being the presiding Bishop at the ordination ceremony.

If you choose not to be the presiding Bishop we ask for your action to contact Bishop Joseph F. Naumann, Bishop of Diocese of Kansas City, Kansas and the temporary administrator of the Diocese of Kansas City- St. Joseph and with fraternal love and in the spirit of fraternal correction vigorously prevail upon him to change the time of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph ordinations in order for his schedule to permit him to be the ordaining bishop or that the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph men who will be ordained priests be included in the ordination ceremony planned by his own diocese where he will be the presiding Bishop.

We appreciate your consideration of our requests.

Sincerely, Kristine Ward Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition

Really?

Editorial

We read with astonishment that Bishop Robert Finn will preside at the ordinations of seven seminaries in the Kansas City- St. Joseph Diocese in May because Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann who temporarily has charge of this diocese has a scheduling conflict.

Tone deaf is a profound understatement on this matter.

We understand that Bishop Finn has the power to ordain these seminarians regardless of his “voluntary” resignation that was accepted by Pope Francis.

But what in heaven’s name makes anyone in the power structure or the pews of the Roman Catholic Church think this is acceptable?

This is about as acceptable as Richard Nixon presiding over a Cabinet meeting for Gerald Ford or signing an executive order because Ford had some work on Capitol Hill that he had previously scheduled.

We get that Archbishop Naumann already has ordinations scheduled. ‘Tis the season for them.

But how about the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church – and those who are being ordained – act in the same way real people do. When a major event has a major problem, maturity goes into action and a solution is found that doesn’t insult anybody.

How about the time of the ordination be moved to later in the day?

How about moving the ordination to the next day or the next weekend or the next month? We understand that the seminarians and their families and friends have planned for this event and it will cause some difficulty if the event were moved even by a day, but plenty of people make sacrifices to be at events of this significance for the people they love. And, really, we think the family members of the seminarians would be all too willing to make whatever adjustments were necessary if an ordination date had to be moved. It’s not for them that this accommodation of Finn’s presiding is being made. And certainly the seminarians should not be adverse to a bit of sacrifice on their way to ordination.

How about everybody understand why Bishop Finn “voluntarily” resigned and that should mean he won’t be available to perform this highly public act of power and authority within the Church.

According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) there are 446 active and retired bishops in the United States – all of them have the power to ordain.

Will one of the other 445 please step forward and remove this insult to survivors, to people in the pews, to men and women of goodwill who cannot understand why it took nearly three years to remove Bishop Finn, and now, in cavalier fashion, we come to this announcement because of a scheduling conflict?

The National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) will pick up the transportation costs if the airfare, gas money or train ticket is what is keeping another bishop from raising his hand to take over this ordination. Enough is positively enough!

And the seminarians should have some say in this. If they think it’s okay, maybe a hard look should be taken at them to see whom they plan to follow as a priestly model.

In case you missed the news story in NSAC News, here’s a link: http://www.kansascity.com/news/local/article19762005.html

— Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC), KristineWard@hotmail.com

The Voluntary Resignation

EDITORIAL

Voluntary resignation instead of firing is not justice.

It is part of the dance of a gentlemen’s game.

Yes, Bishop Robert Finn would no longer be the head of the Diocese of Kansas City- St. Joseph under either circumstance but it is important to make the distinction.

The permitting of a voluntary resignation allows Finn to retain the financial support that any retired bishop receives from the Roman Catholic Church and gives him a glide path of exit.

With the resignation coming at age 62, — albeit two-plus years beyond when it should have come and been accepted, – that leaves a lot of years for financial support to continue. That support comes from collection baskets, make no mistake about it.

We’d like to hear in-the-pew Catholics raise a bit of noise about this. Many pew occupiers had and have no difficulty slinging arrows of castigation that frame victims of molestation by priests and nuns as money grubbers.

For justice, the survivors with great courage went/go to court against a Church that had and has no problem lawyering up. Victims have been put through a second torture in having to testify about the molestation they have suffered.

Reparations for survivors are not even discussed within the broad forums of the Church.

We don’t think Finn should be allowed a gracious retirement free of any obligation to serve. There are plenty of soup kitchens, food pantries, homeless shelters, and other activities in the Church where Catholics without episcopal rank do the work of the Gospel every day. Robert Finn should be shoulder to shoulder with them.

We don’t think Finn should be allowed to leave Kansas City to find a comfortable life without financial worry.

After all, the survivors are condemned to a world of pain, scars, financial uncertainty, deprivation, mental instability, PTSD, broken relationships, isolation, physical wounds and other horrors every day.

Pope Francis, at the very least, should make clear that a voluntary resignation was a gift given to Finn and he should, as BishopAccountability.org requested yesterday, make clear that Finn’s departure is the result of what he failed to do to protect children in this crisis.

Seeking to clear protestors from the streets of the US cities where Pope Francis will visit in September is undoubtedly part of the Vatican’s double play of the whimper end of the investigation of religious orders of women and the removal of Finn. Do the Chileans have to wait until Pope Francis schedules a trip there to be rid of Bishop Barros?

The National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) said in its reaction statement yesterday to the news of the removal of Finn, which, semantics aside, is indeed what it was:

It’s about time.   The resignation of Bishop Finn as head of the Diocese of Kansas City- St. Joseph is not a moment for applause in the continuing crisis of sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church.     It is a moment to ask why it took so long.   It is a moment to ask when the others who protected and continue to protect abusers will be removed.     It is a moment to ask why there are continuing defenders of bishops and religious superiors for predator priests and religious men and women, and diocesan staffs.   May today’s announcement, terse as it was from the Vatican, give a measure of peace to the survivors.

We restate it today with another call for justice and with a hope that those who have been blind and deaf to what has been going in the Church will see and hear.

We restate it today to emphasize that it is now clear that no papal commission needed to be created for papal action to be taken to remove a hierarch who protected an abuser.

We restate it today to lift our voices in a hearty call for all other hierarchs and religious superiors of men and women religious who have done what Robert Finn did – protect an abuser – voluntarily submit their resignations to Pope Francis.

Bishop Finn

National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) Statement on the Acceptance of Bishop Robert Finn’s Resignation by Pope Francis

For Immediate Release – April 21. 2015

Contact: Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) Kristineward@hotmail. com, 937-272-0308

It’s about time.

The resignation of Bishop Finn as head of the Diocese of Kansas City- St. Joseph is not a  moment for applause in the continuing crisis of sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church.

It is a moment to ask why it took so long.

It is a moment to ask when the others who protected and continue to protect abusers will be removed.

It is a moment to ask why there are continuing defenders of bishops and religious superiors for predator priests and religious men and women, and diocesan staffs.

May today’s announcement, terse as it was from the Vatican, give a measure of peace to the survivors.

— Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC)

The Fixer

EDITORIAL

The National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) applauds the efforts of the two survivors on the papal commission regarding sexual abuse, Marie Collins of Ireland and Peter Saunders of the United Kingdom along with the two other commission members who supported their efforts to raise the issue at the Vatican of the unacceptability — to put it mildly — of Bishop Barros’ appointment and installation as the head of the Diocese of Osorno, Chile.

Survivors in Chile accuse Bishop Juan de la Cruz Barros Madrid of covering up for the Rev. Fernando Karadima whom the Vatican convicted of abuse in 20011. Three Chilean survivors accuse Barros of witnessing their abuse by Karadima

While we applaud the actions of the commission members, we are appalled that they are the people who had to initiate the action to speak with the commission chair, Cardinal Sean O’Malley and through him seek to get the attention of Pope Francis.

Cardinal O’Malley, who not only is president of the papal sexual abuse comission but is a member of the Pope’s kitchen cabinet, formally known as the Council of Nine, gets a newspaper and has access to radio, television, and Internet – and as a blogging Cardinal he certainly knows how to use the technology of communications.

He is not unaware by a longshot of the protests and objections to Bishop Barros and the reasons why this appointment needs to be rescinded.

It is Cardinal O’Malley who should have assured the members of the papal sexual abuse commission that he had already contacted Pope Francis and the issue would be front and center on this week’s meeting of the Council of Nine with Pope Francis, eliminating any need for the survivors and the other two commission members to travel to Rome or entreat him to seek redress of this appointment that insults and hurts survivors.

But Cardinal O’Malley didn’t take that action. He continued his long history as a fixer for the Vatican regarding sexual abuse beginning with his appointment in 1992 as the bishop of Fall River, MA as a clean up action of the revelations of the notorious abuser James Porter.

Sitting at a meeting with survivors and agreeing to convey their sentiments to another authority is a hallmark of Cardinal O’Malley’s. He has finely honed the skill of the appearance of action and empathy.

If you enjoy theater, Cardinal O’Malley’s performance that builds yet another protective tent for hierarchs while continuing to disguise him as a champion of reform is stellar.

The news reports of the meeting that the commission members held with Cardinal O’Malley on Sunday evening reveal that all Cardinal O’Malley agreed to do was raise the issue with Pope Francis. An issue, mind you, that the commission members had to bring to him, not one that he could see beforehand.

We have no doubt that Cardinal O’Malley was true to his word. He brought the issue up at a session of the Council of Nine with Pope Francis present. What that did was result in the speaking about what the Pope and Cardinals already know — there is opposition to the appointment of Bishop Barros by survivors and members of the papal abuse commission.

ZENIT’s report of the Council of Nine’s meeting includes these paragraphs http://www.zenit.org/en (Ninth Meeting of the Council of Nine Concludes):

During the meeting of the Council of Cardinals, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, president of the Commission for the Protection of Minors, discussed the theme of accountability regarding superiors (either bishops or religious) of priests involved in cases of abuse.

The Council went on to evaluate the methods and procedures in confronting the “failure of responsibility” and “abuse of office” on the part of authorities responsible for supervising.

According to Fr. Lombardi, Cardinal O’Malley met on Sunday with members of the Commission for the Protection of Minors, who asked him to “make present to the Pope their worries on those who have important roles in the Church and their qualifications for assuming adequate responsibility for the protection of minors.”

A “precise and reliable legal text” will thus be assessed that defines the responsibilities of superiors, Fr. Lombardi said.

What Cardinal O’Malley has done is open a huge umbrella of protection for Bishop Barros.

Cardinal O’Malley, as he is expert at doing, has pushed the ephemeral, ever promised “accountability”, once again into that beautiful future that is always described and tantalizingly almost within reach — but never arrives.

in the wonderful future constructed by Cardinal O’Malley to protect his brother bishops while looking like he is taking up the cause of survivors, Barros will not have failed at responsibility. His “failure” will have occurred before he was appointed as a bishop when he had no “responsibility” — outside of a moral one but, hey, he was only a priest not a bishop.

No “precise and reliable legal text” that may or may not come about in the future will touch him — nor any of his colleague bishops who have aided and abetted the rape and sodomy of children by protecting the clerics and religious men and women who molested them.

And no one is promising that any such “reliable and legal text” will be adopted, only as the statement says that it will be “assessed.” Cue the mack truck, please.

If Pope Francis wanted to hear the survivors he could have met with them in the Saint Martha guesthouse or any place in the Vatican. If he wanted to talk with the Chilean victims he could.

If Cardinal O’Malley really wanted to make a difference he could. After all, he has a telephone and we know Pope Francis has one. So does Cardinal Marc Ouellet who heads the Congregation for Bishops.

This issue could have been resolved before the appointment was made, at the time the survivors made known their views in news stories, when the interruption of Bishop Barros’ installation ceremony took place, when the numerous letters and contacts were made to Pope Francis, and before the Vatican issued the statement of the Congregation for Bishops backing the already-made appointment.

Whenever a ranking prelate wants to quash the appointment of a cleric to a bishopric it happens — let alone when a pope objects.

We hope that all men and women of goodwill remember that bishops become bishops and remain as bishops because of the actions of popes — including very popular and charming popes.

There is much more at work in this appointment. The influence of Cardinal Angelo Sodano, who has had overbearing influence in Chilean matters, cannot be discounted.

Cardinal O’Malley knows that.

He also knows that Cardinal Ouellet is sitting as the Prefect of the Congregation of Bishops because of the number of votes he received for pope in the last conclave.

Cardinal O’Malley also knows that it borders on the near-impossible that Bishop Barros’ appointment will be rescinded.

Now, the only face-saving action for Pope Francis and the Vatican and Bishop Barros is for Bishop Barros to — or appear to — voluntarily resign.

If he wanted to, Cardinal O’Malley could be a fixer for that.

—- Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC)

 

Why Have You Forsaken Them?

EDITORIAL

The question has to be asked.

It has to be asked of Pope Francis.

There is no better week to ask it than Holy Week.

No better words than those of the Lord’s.

Words wrung out in the ebbing away of life. Words labored and laden with anguish, pain, and abandonment.

It has to be the place where the Chilean victims and by extension all survivors of sexual abuse by priests and religious are today in the face of the brutal slap they have received from Pope Francis’ backing of the declaration of the Congregation for Bishops supporting Juan de la Cruz Barros Madrid as the newly appointed and installed bishop of Osorno, Chile.

This is the Chilean bishop whose installation was interrupted by loud protestations within the cathedral. And how often has any Catholic seen that happen?

The Vatican’s press statement said this:

Prior to the recent appointment of His Excellency Msgr. Juan de la Cruz Barros Madrid as bishop of Osorno, Chile, the Congregation for Bishops carefully examined the prelate’s candidature and did not find objective reasons to preclude the appointment.

For those who cannot bring themselves to think that Pope Francis does not back this appointment, please read on from the report in ZENIT:

Fr. (Ciro) Benedettini’s (Vice Director of the Holy See Press Office) statement echos those of Archbishop Fernando Chomali Garib of Concepcion, who in an interview with Chile’s El Sur newspaper on March 26th, stated that he spoke personally with Pope Francis regarding the appointment.  

“All the documentation that I cited came to him (Pope Francis), whether through the nunciature or the Chilean Embassy to the Holy See. He was very much up to date on Bishop Barros’ situation, and in fact, a few days prior he had spoken with him,” Archbishop Chomali said.

“With firmness and much conviction, he told me that he had analyzed all the past records and that there was no objective reason that Bishop Barros should not be installed as diocesan bishop.”

Here is the link to the ZENIT news story on this issue: http://www.zenit.org/en

The Congregation’s action is not surprising, sad but not surprising – and given the history of the public revelations of the sexual abuse crisis, it could have been anticipated: this band of brothers hangs together.

But for this Father, the Holy Father of this band of brothers to have heavy lidded eyes through which mercy cannot penetrate is a stinging whip or rebuke to survivors.

Is this truly the only person who could be the Bishop of Osorno, Chile?

The Chilean survivors have told the world that Bishop Barros was a witness to their abuse by Fr. Fernando Karadima.

Survivors carry enough burden in their lives. Abusers and their protectors are plentiful in number and there is no need to invent them or create a spectacle in a cathedral as a headline grabbing flashpoint overtaken soon enough by the next spectacle. Does anyone really think these protestors had nothing else to do that day?

Where is the concern of this bishop for the survivors that he would not lay down this position of bishop or not accept it in the first place?

Who are the poor?

What does a Jubilee Year of Mercy mean if not to overlook and overcome the self and seek the good of the other and seek it in an overflowing abundance of love?

In yet another ZENIT news story, we read that Pope Francis has been named by Fortune magazine as the fourth “greatest world leader.”

The ranking are given, Fortune says to “extraordinary men and women who are transforming business, government, philanthropy, and so much more. ”

Fortune said Pope Francis “has been shaking up the management of one of the world’s largest bureaucracies: the Roman Catholic Church.”

“It is not just that he has led by example—by now it’s well known that the pope, who has long championed the virtues of charity and modesty, has forgone the traditional suite in the Apostolic Palace, opting instead to reside in a one-bedroom apartment in the Vatican guesthouse.”

“Less known is how decisive he is in personnel choices,” the magazine continued, “replacing the boards of the Vatican Bank and its main regulatory body with highly respected business-people from around the globe.”

Despite perhaps some pushback, “this pontiff is not easily conned,” Fortune says. “This, after all, is a pope who lives his own lessons.”

The personnel choice here is a bad one.

The rubber is hitting the road and the smell is not sweet.

It is important to be clear here by making and letting this appointment of Bishop Barros stand Pope Francis is declaring that he is not going to take action against those who aided and abetted abusers. He is going to protect them.

We have Bishop Robert Finn of the Diocese of Kansas City- St. Joseph as a glaring example of that.

Now, Bishop Barros.

The problem of sexual abuse needs no other hand for its correction than Pope Francis’.

This appointment gives the back of it to survivors.

With all the power needed and necessary residing in him, the question has to be asked: Why has Pope Francis, who so clearly hears the cry of the poor, the innocent, the vulnerable and the marginalized, forsaken the survivors – the very children who were striped naked, brutalized, raped and sodomized by the agents of the Church over whom he has absolute power?

—- Kristine Ward, Chair National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) KristineWard@hotmail.com

Un-hatting, Anyone?

EDITORIAL

Un-Hatting, Anyone?

The world knows Pope Francis can do surprising things.

He is not hide bound to tradition. The evidence is clear on a number of fronts, the latest of which being his Sunday announcement of the second round of cardinal appointments of his papacy.

Now, how about a surprise that might shake some sense into his hierarchy: un-hatting.

Today, January 6, 2015, — thirteen years into the Boston revelations of the sexual abuse scandal that became the tidal wave of revelations throughout the United States and rippling, then flooding across the world, — seems a most fitting day to consider un-hatting.

Cardinals who don’t deserve their station should have their red hats rescinded. If accountability is a real end of Francis the Reformer, then Francis the Giver should also be Francis the Taker Awayer – and no hat should come with a lifetime guarantee.

If the affront of a naked head would be too much to bear for those who made deliberate decisions not to protect children, then let Pope Francis create a switching-out day as well as a cardinal-making day. Switching out day could swap red hats for black ones.

Good Friday seems a fitting day for that — without a third day return policy built in, of course.

If not Good Friday, then any day that is a cause for fireworks. Or how about Chinese New Year which this year falls on February 19, just five days beyond the hatting of Francis’ new crop of cardinals. And interestingly enough, this year it’s the Year of the Sheep.

Un-hatting for the dereliction of duty which allowed and then turned a blind eye to the rape and sodomy of children seems a balanced opposite of what cardinals hear they are supposed to live up to when they kneel before a pope and receive a red hat:

“To the glory of Almighty God and the honour of the Apostolic See, receive the scarlet biretta as a sign of the dignity of the cardinalate, signifying your readiness to act with courage, even to the shedding of your blood, for the increase of the Christian faith, for the peace and tranquility of the people of God and for the freedom and growth of Holy Roman Church.”

Indeed, it must be said that for what is passed off as courage by most cardinals when juxtaposed to those in the world who daily are under the threat of the shedding of their blood, these words are betrayed by pomposity and eviscerated of the nobility of their promise.

What peace and tranquility is promoted when victims and their families are rent asunder by the savageness of the physical and psychological wounds of sexual abuse?

Who are the poor, if not the victims of sexual abuse?

Who are human trafficking victims, if not these?

Who are those whose freedom was unmercifully, selfishly, cruelly taken, if not these?

Pope Francis may say as many times as he wishes that being named a cardinal is not a promotion, but the perception of reality is reality and, make no mistake, news stories, conversation, comment and convention regarding these men will carry the words “elevated, prince, ceremony , celebration and exclusivity and privilege.”

Thirteen long years into a major revelations of the sexual abuse scandal in the United States, not to mention the revelations from Ireland, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Poland, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, and Argentina, to mention a few — and three popes on — we’ve got a papal commission peopled by only two survivors.

Surely that does not measure up to anyone’s definition of courage.

If the singular role of cardinals in the Church is the election of a pope can we really not find better people than these among more than a billion Catholics to elect the Church’s leader? Really?

This list of the un-hatted should begin with Bernard Law and Roger Mahony but certainly should not end with them — and it should not end within the ranks of cardinals. The list of bishops that should be un-hatted should begin with Robert Finn.

Isn’t it time for a real epiphany?

Think anew, St. Paul tells us.

Let the un-hatting begin.

— Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) KristineWard@hotmail.com

Finn: A Fit Leader?

EDITORIAL

Finn: A Fit Leader?

The National Catholic Reporter (NCR) broke a story this week that Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa has conducted an apostolic visitation — at the behest of the Vatican — of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri.

The Archbishop, it is reported, asked of supporters and defenders of Bishop Robert Finn: Do you think Bishop Finn is fit to be a leader?

It is possible that given all of the mounds of heart breaking evidence that’s been produced through the courage of the survivors in this crisis – evidence that has been ignored, attempted to be explained away, and pushed under massive rugs – Oriental and otherwise — and vigorously assigned – but not staying put – as history, — that the Archbishop will answer his question in the affirmative and deliver the answer to the Vatican that Finn is a fit leader.

Or he if answers no that the Vatican and Pope Francis himself may decide that Finn should remain in place.

But, while we still are that fluid zone where the decision is yet to be make – or, if made, not yet carried out – it may be possible to entertain the thought of what hell freezing over would sound and look like.

A cautionary damper is placed on this, though, by the at first hopeful news and then disclaimered news that the reason Paraguayan Bishop Rogelio Livieres Plano was removed from office was his protection of Monsignor Carolos Urritigoity against whom a federal lawsuit charging abuse was filed in the United States. The suit was followed by a bishop to bishop warning from Diocese of Scranton Bishop James Timlin not to give Utttigoity faculties in Paraguay.

Now in the case of Finn’s fitness, Archbishop Prendergast stands in the breach.

We urge any one with information regarding Bishop Finn’s and his diocese’s conduct in regard to the Shawn Ratigan child pornography case and the Diocese’s protestation of payment of $1.1 million ordered by an arbitrator for violating the 2008 settlement conditions for victims of sexual abuse by priests in the diocese to raise their voices, their pen, their texts, their email, their faxes – and any other method of preferred communication.

We mean everyone with information: survivors, family members of survivors, neighbors, friends, classmates, teammates of survivors, attorneys, advocates, people in the pews, concerned citizens, chancery officials, priests, deacons, religious, and brother bishops.

We urge them to answer Archbishop Prendergast’s question: is Finn fit to be a leader?

Here is Archbishop Prendergast’s contact information through the Archdiocese of Ottawa:

The Diocesan Centre

1247 Kilborn Place Ottawa, Ontario

K1H 6K9

Telephone number: 613-738-5025 The voicemail system, the Archdiocese says, is available 24/7  Fax number: 613-738-0130  E-mail: reception@archottawa.ca

Or send your information to us and we’ll forward it.

We know that the Catholics of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph deserve better.

We certainly know the children who live in the Diocese of Kansas City- St. Joseph- Catholic or not – deserve better.

We know that it is incredible to believe that among the 38,275 priests in the United States there is not to be found a more fit leader for this Diocese.

We know that Bishop Finn should have found it within himself to offer his resignation.

The issue parallels the director of the Secret Service resignation. The logic is the same: when the persons you and your organization are charged to protect come into and remain in harm’s way because of the action, inaction, policies, inattention or incompetence, of your organization the “leader” needs to step aside for the integrity of the organization. The realization of what’s needs doing should not be a drawn out process. .

There is sensibility in resignation. Those who believe themselves to be leaders and those who keep them in positions of leadership should be able to see this. And not only this, but the horizon of harm that it does to the Church and the society in general when this kind of “leadership” is allowed to go on.

No waiting game should be played for a polite exit for Bishop Finn. No age game, no naming of a co-adjutor auxiliary (although for a diocese so small this would be a stretch), no walking away from plain truth.

We know that one can serve a Church without being a bishop and that being named one should not come with an unexamined lifetime guarantee.

We know it should be evident to Pope Francis – as it should have been to Pope Benedict — that a bishop who has conducted himself as Bishop Finn has is not fit to be a leader.

If it is, it is a new low in the standards of what should be sought in a candidate for bishop.

We also know that silence is not an option.

What’s at stake here ultimately are children.

— Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition, (NSAC) KristineWard@hotmail.com

The Choice for Chicago

Pope Francis’ choice to replace Cardinal Francis George is Bishop Blase Cupich who will leave the Diocese of Spokane, Washington, to take over the helm at the Archdiocese of Chicago.  

Apropos of nature’s season of changing colors, Cupich’s official outerwear will undoubtedly change from magenta to red in the not too distant future, again significantly ratcheting up his influence within the Church’s internal structure.  

There will be mountains of words written about this choice now, at his installation, and at the time of the change-of-color events.     

For now, deep into this crisis of monumental proportions with a huge Vatican public relations operation underway, we think the proof still remains in the pudding. 

No matter what descriptive label is affixed to this choice, or parallel peering into the motivations of Pope Francis, or turn in the road that may be imagined or real, we think it suffices to say only these two words: we’ll see.     

* Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition, Kristineward@hotmail.com   

 

Hold the Applause, Please

EDITORIAL

Hold the Applause, Please

We considered not saying anything about the homily delivered by Pope Francis yesterday or the Vatican’s comments about the private meetings he held with six survivors from Ireland, Germany and Great Britain.

Silence for what was, in essence, another round of someday we are going to do something – just you wait – theater seemed the most appropriate match to the events.

It is possible that many of our readers will think we should have stuck with our initial reaction

As the day flowed on and news outlets including the Vatican carried the full text of the homily and characterizations of Father Frederic Lombardi’s comments, we changed our mind.

We changed it in large measure because silence practiced and nearly perfected by the Vatican is a foundational block of why sexual abuse by priests and nuns and the octopus of its cover-up still hangs like the sword of Damocles over the Roman Catholic Church today.

We changed it.   We believe every voice should be raised to rail against the missed opportunity the day presented.

We changed it because of a growing feeling that the possibility existed the real outcome of the day may be spreading of the illusion for Catholics in the pews and indeed men and women of goodwill who seek good intent from this pope that movement was taking place and accountability was happening.

We ask Catholics in the pews and men and women of goodwill to look hard, look deeper, look for the real and ask themselves what has changed in the past 24 hours in regard to sexual abuse.

First, we believe it is important to say that the survivors should not have been asked for anything by the  pope – including forgiveness – no matter how pleasant the pope, how well turned the phrase, how Scripturally linked, how beautifully spoken the ask.

This is not about the forgiveness of the survivors.

This is about what the chief authority in a worldwide institution can and should do about the rape and sodomy of children and its aftermath by the men and women whom the institution gave power to, and sustains with power, and the men and women in the institution who actively blocked aiding these children both as children and as adults and who are complicit not only in sin but in crime.

If this pope – or any pope wanted or wants an accountable Church regarding sexual abuse by priests and nuns, he can have it. He can order it. He can create it. He can make it happen. This simple fact cannot and should not be lost, swept away in lovely language, or overshadowed by gesture.

Eleven years ago, Pope John Paul II said, “ People need to know that there is no place in the priesthood and religious life for those who would harm the young.”  Yesterday, Pope Francis made nearly an  identical statement. Full text of the homily:

Full text of Pope John Paul II’s statement http://www.vatican.va/resources/resources_american- cardinals-2002_en.html

How is it that this Church cannot get to the place where these words mean something?

Francis referred to the “sins of omission” that had covered up the crisis. These were not sins of omission. The cover-up by popes, cardinals, and bishops and heads of religious orders was not and is not a passive activity. It was and is intentional and actively worked at and intently created and sustained.

Francis pledged accountability by his Church.

One need look no further than the weekend’s announcement that the Vatican would not turn over the documents requested by the Royal Commission in Australia or closer that the continued sitting of Bishop Robert Finn at the head of the Diocese of Kansas City- St. Joseph to doubt this statement.

In its simplest fashion, yesterday could have been a signal call to Catholics by the Pope to do as he does — to open their parishes that have remained in overwhelmingly large measure cold and castigating toward sexual abuse victims. But he did not do so.

We ask Catholics and men and women of goodwill to examine the events of yesterday and to hold both Pope Francis and the chief architect of the day, Cardinal Sean O’Malley to account.

— Kristine Ward, Chair National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) KristineWard@hotmail.com