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
Telephone number: 613-738-5025 The voicemail system, the Archdiocese says, is available 24/7 Fax number: 613-738-0130 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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