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



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


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