Bishop Finn Removed: Response by Anne Barrett Doyle, Co-Director, BishopAccountability.org (781-439-5208 cell)
Pope Francis’s removal of Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph is a good step but just a beginning. The pope must show that this decision represents a meaningful shift in papal practice – that it signals a new era in bishop accountability. This action alone is not unprecedented: both of Francis’s predecessors fired bishops whose handling of abusive priests caused scandal. (See BishopAccountability.org’s list of complicit bishops who resigned or were removed: http://www.bishop-accountability.org/bishops/removed/)
But what no pope has done to date is publicly confirm that he removed a culpable bishop because of his failure to make children’s safety his first priority. We urge Pope Francis to issue such a statement immediately. That would be unprecedented, and it would send a bracing message to bishops and religious superiors worldwide that a new era has begun.
It should be noted too that Pope Francis’s decision on Finn will add fuel to the fire in Chile; calls for the removal of Chilean bishop Juan de la Cruz Barros Madrid will intensify. We hope Francis will honor the pleas of Karadima’s victims, of his own Commission members, and of the priests and parishioners of the Osorno diocese, and rescind this disastrous appointment immediately. If Francis means business, he must be consistent.
Background on canon 401, paragraph 2, and removal of complicit bishops:
Today’s terse Vatican press bulletin states only that Finn was removed in accordance with canon 401, paragraph 2, which states: "A diocesan bishop who has become less able to fulfill his office because of ill health or some other grave cause is earnestly requested to present his resignation from office." This is the same notice the Vatican has issued in the firing of other complicit bishops who have caused scandal – such as Irish bishop Brendan Comiskey, removed by Pope John Paul II in 2002, and Irish bishop Seamus Hegarty, removed by Pope Benedict XVI in 2011.
Founded in 2003 and based near Boston, Massachusetts, USA, BishopAccountability.org is a large online archive of documents, reports, and news articles documenting the global abuse crisis in the Roman Catholic Church. An independent non-profit, it is not a victims' advocacy group and is not affiliated with any church, reform, or victims' organization. In 2014, its website hosted 1.5 million unique visitors.
Contact for BishopAccountability.org
Anne Barrett Doyle, Co-Director, firstname.lastname@example.org, 781-439-5208 cell
Terence McKiernan, President and Co-Director, email@example.com, 508-479-9304