PopeWatch: Bishops




Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City has resigned:

Bishop Robert W. Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph has resigned, nearly two and a half years after being the first U.S. bishop convicted of a misdemeanor in failing to report suspected child abuse by a priest in his diocese. 

The Vatican confirmed Pope Francis’ acceptance of Bishop Finn’s resignation according to Canon 104 Article 2 in the Code of Canon Law in an April 21 statement, released at noon local time.

Go here to read the rest.  This could be interpreted as a symbol of the zero tolerance policy of the pope if it were not for the case of another Bishop:


The outcry against Pope Francis’s appointment of Chilean Bishop Juan Barros—who has long been associated with a child–abusing priest—to the Diocese of Osorno, has placed the Pope’s “zero tolerance” policy against sexual abuse into question.

As Pope, Francis has taken many decisive actions against sexual abuse. He created a special Vatican Commission to combat it, and soon thereafter met with a group of victims, expressing his pain over their suffering:

I feel the gaze of Jesus, and I ask for the grace to weep, the grace for the Church to weep and make reparation for her sons and daughters who betrayed their mission, who abused innocent persons.

Francis has defrocked abusive clergymen, disciplined Catholic prelates who were believed to have covered up for them, and stripped an abusive Cardinal of all his authority. The Pope has also personally intervened in other abuse cases, ordering investigations and encouraging the public authorities to take strong action against evildoers.

Given these actions, the Pope’s decision to appoint Barros as bishop of Osorno—even as Barros has been accused of covering up sexual abuse, and of being an eyewitness to the abuse—has been a source of consternation, not least among members of Francis’s own anti-abuse Commission.

Barros was a long-time colleague and supporter of Rev. Fernando Karadima, a notorious abuser in Chile. After Karadima was first accused of sexual abuse, Barros publicly defended his friend and mentor, and reportedly “tried to discredit the victims—even after the Vatican ruled against him [Karadima]” in 2011. The Chilean Bishops Conference subsequently ordered Barros, and three other bishops who had defended Karadima, to apologize.

Go here to read the rest.

Daniel Webster, the great Senator of the 19th century, was one time defending a patent in a case.  His opponent at the conclusion of the case took several hours in an oration to the jury to convince them that the two machines before them were as different as night and day and that there was no patent infringement.  At the end of this closing argument, Webster got up, looked at the devices, then looked at the jury and said, “Well, if you can see any difference between them that is more than I can see.”  Webster sat down and won his case with that brief appeal to the obvious.  Popewatch can see no difference between the two bishops when it comes to the issue of predatory priests.  The only difference that PopeWatch can discern is that Finn has been an outspoken defender of orthodoxy, and that is about as popular among the current powers that be at the Vatican as an outbreak of the bubonic plague.

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  1. There is a huge difference between them. Unlike Bishop Finn, the allegations published against Barros are that he was , quite literally, in the room with Karadima when Karadima commited certain of his atrocities. Karadima and Barros are alleged to have had more than just a mentor/mentee relationship. Coupled with his promotion of Wuerl and resuscitating the career of Daneels, I don’t think zero tolerance means what we all think it means. I think Donald is spot on about Finn’s conservative views being the difference.

  2. Barros is called an eyewitness, but the question arises as to whether or not, say a witness to a car accident, can be one of the involved–however passively.

  3. Yep, it does seem that if the accused has the right connections, or is on the liberal side, his chances of escaping punishment for sexual abuse are pretty good.

  4. Don Lond wrote, “[T]he question arises as to whether or not, say a witness to a car accident, can be one of the involved–however passively.”
    In the ordinary case, a person being present at, and witnessing the perpetration of an offence would not, in the absence of any proof of previous concert or of concurrence displayed at the time, make him guilty art and part. However, there is some authority that “a person who stands by and witnesses, without a remonstrance, or even a sign of dissent, the protracted efforts of one individual to drown another, or to throw him over a precipice” might be held to be lending at least tacit support. The strongest case would be that of someone in authority standing by and not doing that which his office made it his duty to do.
    Of course, even without prior concert, “If there was privity, even by so slight a communication as by a nod or a wink, that would make the party so privy guilty art and part.” Any signification of approval or encouragement suffices.

  5. I return to thinking that Bishop Finn was either a victim of very, very bad personal legal counsel, or (perhaps more likely) he decided not to consult his probably excellent personal legal counsel that was available to him.
    It is essential to have in this day and age for anyone. Many laws, many ways to screw up.

  6. Let’s shed no tears for Finn–he screwed up, badly. Shawn Ratigan was a horrific pervert, and his bishop did not act to stop him.

    As to the Pope’s bias, well, of course. Try to find the silver lining, though: if you have a bishop with conservative leanings, your kids will be much safer than they will be in a diocese whose ordinary is shaking the pom-pons for this pontificate.

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