Bishop Finn takes flight, but is the summer of Pope Francis upon us?

National Catholic Reporter

Peter Isely | Apr. 29, 2015 Examining the Crisis

Mindful of Aristotle’s caution that one swallow does not a summer make, there is still good reason to celebrate that after years of intense activism, advocacy and grass-roots organizing from abuse survivors, advocates, Catholic clergy and parishioners, the Vatican has finally, formally and unceremoniously removed Bishop Robert Finn from the beleaguered diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo.

This is a kind of move the Vatican is always loath to make since it raises serious questions about the divine hand in episcopal promotions. Thus, there was only one paltry sentence in the statement about it from the Vatican. So much for a teaching moment.

That Finn was convicted of child endangerment and was publicly exposed for breaking signed promises to victims of clergy sex crimes negotiated in civil settlements certainly helped, proving once again that when criminal and civil courts intervene in church cover-ups, it becomes increasingly difficult for the Vatican to feign neutrality.

Backing the efforts of the law in Kansas City: parishioners who spoke up, organized and signed petitions (it’s easy to be cynical, but thousands of signatures made a difference); dedicated journalists who investigated and reported stories of priest sex abuse and institutional complicity; and innovative insiders/outsiders to the church system itself, like Milwaukee canon lawyer Fr. Jim Connell, co-founder of The Survivors and Clergy Leadership Alliance, who found ways to use the church’s legal system to represent survivors and press for the rights of aggrieved parishioners.

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