Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City, Who Failed to Report Abuse, Resigns

Big news via John Allen at Crux:

In what is likely to be hailed as major step toward accountability for Catholic bishops who mishandle sexual abuse allegations, the Vatican has announced the resignation of Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph.

The announcement came Tuesday in a brief statement in the Vatican’s daily news bulletin, released at noon Rome time. Finn, whose resignation is effective immediately, will remain a bishop, but no longer lead a diocese. Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City-Kansas has been appointed as the apostolic administrator of Finn’s diocese until Pope Francis names Finn’s successor.

Finn, 62, is the lone American bishop ever to be found guilty of a criminal charge for failure to report an accusation of child abuse. His September 2012 conviction on a misdemeanor charge stemmed from Finn waiting several months before telling police that explicit images of young girls had been discovered on the computer of the Rev. Shawn Ratigan, one of his priests.

Finn was sentenced to two years of probation, and the diocese received a fine of $1.1 million when an arbitrator ruled that it had violated the terms of an earlier settlement.

MSW analyzes the announcement:

The long nightmare that has engulfed the diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph is over. The people of that diocese, whose numbers have shrunk by one quarter since Bishop Finn took the reins of the diocese in 2005, can now begin healing the wounds his leadership caused and, by the grace of God, rebuilding the once vibrant local church.

This is no time for popping champagne. Everything about the situation – from Bishop Finn’s authoritarian manner to his conviction for failing to report child sex abuse to the years of inaction by the Holy See – all of it is the stuff of tragedy. But, it is tragedy of a specific kind. We say that a hurricane or a tornado, a force of nature or act of God that causes great harm and suffering, is a tragedy. But, this is more of a Shakespearean tragedy in which the central character has a fatal flaw that, as the plot unfolds, brings about his ruin. In this case, the fatal flaw was hubris.