Catholic Activist Wants Bishop Finn Removed
By Matt C. Abbott
Renew America [Missouri]
March 28, 2007
The following article is from the latest newsletter (not yet available online) of Roman Catholic Faithful, headed by lay Catholic activist Stephen Brady. (Portions of the article have been slightly edited.)
Bishop Robert Finn, 53, a priest of the St. Louis archdiocese, is looked upon by some orthodox Catholics as a good bishop. This view exists in part because of his involvement in Opus Dei, as well as actions he took once installed (on May 24, 2005) as bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph in Missouri.
According to a May 12, 2006 article in the National Catholic Reporter:
Within a week of [Finn's] appointment he:
• Dismissed the chancellor, a layman with 21 years of experience in the diocese, and the vice chancellor, a religious woman stationed in the diocese for nearly 40 years and the chief of pastoral planning for the diocese since 1990, and replaced them with a priest chancellor.
• Cancelled the diocese's nationally renowned lay formation programs and a master's degree program in pastoral ministry.
• Cut in half the budget of the Center for Pastoral Life and Ministry, effectively forcing the almost immediate resignation of half the seven-member team. Within 10 months all seven would be gone and the center shuttered.
• Ordered a 'zero-based study' of adult catechesis in the diocese and appointed as vice chancellor to oversee adult catechesis, lay formation and the catechesis study a layman with no formal training in theology or religious studies.
• Ordered the editor of the diocesan newspaper to immediately cease publishing columns by Notre Dame theologian Fr. Richard McBrien.
• Announced that he would review all front page stories, opinion pieces, columns and editorials before publication.
Finn has also expressed support for a pastoral letter written by 'Bishop Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs, Colo., also a former St. Louis priest and friend of Finn,...that said Catholic politicians who advocate abortion, illicit stem-cell research or euthanasia or promote same-sex marriage and Catholics who vote for these candidates 'may not receive Communion until they have recanted their positions and been reconciled with God and the church in the sacrament of reconciliation.'
While Finn's actions mentioned above are a good sign, they do not necessarily prove the bishop is orthodox. The last two popes have appointed so many faithless, pervert bishops in the past 30 years that any orthodox action taken by a bishop suddenly makes him a hero in the eyes of many starving Catholics. Praising a bishop for being pro-life or defending canon law is equivalent to praising a mother for feeding her newborn. Finn may be a wolf in sheep's clothing. Read on to find out why.
It was the summer of 2006 when I received my first phone call from a parishioner at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Nevada, Missouri. I was told of a situation involving the pastor, Fr. Anthony Pileggi, but was not given many details. The caller assured me that the 'good' bishop had promised to remove Pileggi and RCF was contacted for information only. This individual wanted to keep the scandal quiet. 'The bishop will take care of it.'
It was October 2006 when I received a second call from St. Mary's in Nevada. This time the parishioner wanted RCF's help. They felt betrayed by their bishop. Finn had removed Pileggi, only to appoint him pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Raytown, Missouri. The parish in Raytown has a school, K — 8th grade. Parishioners at both parishes were puzzled as to why their pastors were swapped. No one knew the secret and Finn apparently wanted it that way.
Later that month, Ron (an RCF member who works in our office) and I made the eight hour drive to Raytown to gather additional information before RCF took any action.
The trouble at St. Mary's in Nevada began approximately nine months earlier. A parishioner who had access to one of the priest's computers found that he, Fr. Pileggi, had been visiting homosexually pornographic Web sites. One of the sites, titled 'Boys First Time,' alarmed the parishioner. He felt it might be child pornography, so he contacted several law enforcement agencies.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol began an investigation of Pileggi. RCF obtained a copy of the Police Report, # 06 058 003 001 Dated: 06/20/2006. While no child pornography was found and Pileggi was cleared of any criminal charges, some very disturbing information regarding the priest's habits emerged.
According to the police report:
2-a. Father Pileggi is attracted to same sex and has viewed numerous pornographic images of the same sex. He is sexually attracted to the same sex and preferred younger men. He gave the example that a heterosexual male of his same age would be attracted to a younger female the same way a homosexual male would be attracted to a younger male of legal age. He preferred to view younger male subjects because they look better. He considered himself homosexual or gay and understood it was not right in the eyes of the Catholic Church and that he would have to deal with the church. He added that he hasn't had a same sex sexual relationship for several years. He has visited many male pornographic websites in the past to include... (four sites were listed which featured young males, possibly teenagers, engaging in sodomy).
2-b. ...He [Pileggi] does communicate with [name edited by RCF], a personal friend in Rich Hill, Missouri, and has made sexual comments to him regarding the same sex. They often communicate via the Internet.
3. I asked Father Pileggi if I could view the pornographic tapes that he had in his possession. He recovered the tapes from a bedroom near the rear of the residence. I asked him if I could search the residence for evidence of child pornography and he agreed. While searching the residence, I located a box on the top shelf of the closet in the bedroom that he identified as his primary bedroom. In the box were additional video tapes. All of the tapes were pornographic and all except one were male pornography. He stated that he had forgotten they were in the closet.
...Forensic Laboratory Report of Examination of Father's computers. No child pornography was located. Large amounts of adult pornography was present, most of which was male homosexual in nature.
As you can see from the police report, Pileggi admitted to past homosexual activity, was attracted to younger adult males, owned a large collection of homosexually pornographic videos, and spent a lot of time on the Internet viewing homosexually pornographic Web sites.
Knowing this information, Finn did remove Pileggi as pastor of St. Mary's in Nevada, and shortly thereafter made him pastor of Our lady of Lourdes in Raytown, Missouri.
RCF felt that the parishioners in Raytown had a right to know the background of the priest who may be hearing their children's confessions and tending to their spiritual needs.
In November 2006, RCF sent one page of the police report to parishioners at both parishes and included a cover letter, which stated (in part):
Once you read the enclosed information, I am sure you will understand the need to write. RCF believes, as the Church teaches, in the infinite value of each and every soul. As a father of seven children, I am especially concerned about damage that can be done by a priest who does not accept Church teaching and/or lives a life of filth. Any bishop who would place such a priest in a position of authority at a parish or school is not fit to be a bishop. He shows a complete disregard for the souls of the unsuspecting faithful.
One week after RCF's letter was received at both parishes, Finn removed Pileggi and sent his own letter to parishioners which stated (in part):
It is with great sadness that I write to you today. As many of you know from letters sent by an Illinois based group [Roman Catholic Faithful], Fr. Anthony Pileggi cooperated fully with an inquiry conducted by the Missouri Highway Patrol last spring. ...Law enforcement found no evidence of criminal activity and doctors report that he has no sexual attraction to children or inclination to child pornography.
...As bishop, I take seriously any allegation of improper behavior by people serving in the name of the Church. In consultation with my advisors and Fr. Pileggi's doctors, I came to believe that he could serve the faithful of Our Lady of Lourdes. ...Now, with the release of the internal documents of the Highway Patrol, the controversy has been magnified. Because of my care and concern for everyone involved, Fr. Pileggi will no longer be your pastor and will leave the parish.
According to the bishop's letter, it seems there was nothing wrong with appointing Pileggi as pastor of a parish and school as long as the parents did not know of his past. Would a 'good' bishop do such a thing?
If your neighbor was an active homosexual who was sexually attracted to younger males and spent hours a day viewing pornography, would you allow your child to spend time there? Of course not. But the 'good' Bishop Finn believes that type of person is good enough to care for the souls of your loved ones as long as you don't know of his past.
Any bishop who would betray the unsuspecting faithful in such a manner is not fit to be a bishop. Pileggi needs our prayers — Finn needs to be removed from office.
It is very difficult for me to understand why or how so many Catholics came to tolerate and accept such immoral behavior from their bishops and priests. Would they accept that kind of behavior from their children or their spouse? They have lost all concept of the meaning of charity and do not realize that they perpetuate the problem with their tolerance. If they are victimized at gunpoint, they want the perpetrator in jail, but if he uses a Roman collar, they embrace him. Can they not see the example that is set before our children and the damage that has been done? Where are the Catholic men?
Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic columnist with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication, Media and Theatre from Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago, and an Associate in Applied Science degree in Business Management from Triton College in River Grove, Ill. He is the former director of public affairs for the Chicago-based Pro-Life Action League and the former executive director of the Illinois Right to Life Committee. He was a contributor to The Wanderer Catholic newspaper and had numerous letters to the editor published in major newspapers, including the New York Times, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, and the Chicago Sun-Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Any original material on these pages is copyright © BishopAccountability.org 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.