Pope Accepts Resignation of Bishop Robert Finn for Failing to Report Abuse

Photo via Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph / RNS

Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo. Photo via Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph / RNS

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of an American bishop who was found guilty of failing to tell police about a suspected pedophile priest.

The Vatican on April 21 said the pope accepted the resignation of Bishop Robert Finn, who led the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo.

The resignation was offered under the code of canon law that allows a bishop “who has become less able to fulfill his office because of ill health or some other grave cause” to resign.

In 2012, Finn pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge for failing to report suspected abuse after the Rev. Shawn Ratigan took hundreds of lewd images of children in Catholic schools and parishes.

Finn became the first U.S. bishop to be convicted in a criminal court of failing to report a suspected abuser and was sentenced to two years’ probation.

Ratigan pleaded guilty to child pornography charges and was sentenced to 50 years in prison.

A Complicated World Intrudes Upon an Ideologically Driven Congress

Photo via f11photo /

Photo via f11photo /

While a new Congress relentlessly pursued its ideological agenda to trim government and reward its big-money patrons, a vastly more complicated world intruded:

  • In Maryland, a bishop reportedly driving drunk struck a bicyclist, fled the scene while he lay dying and, according to some reports, returned only after a church official told her she had to do so.
  • In Paris, a handful of religious terrorists defended the Prophet Muhammad by slaughtering the staff of a satirical magazine.
  • In Nigeria, the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram intensified its systematic massacring of Nigerian citizens.
  • In New York City, police officers wanting more respect from the new mayor waged a childish campaign of disrespect against the mayor and against the people of New York.
  • In Washington, the latest jobs report showed more jobs being created but no gains in pay. That means the lower and middle classes continue to be dragged down by up-with-wealth political actions.

All this in a week’s time, all while Congress was pursuing a stale ideological agenda dating back to the 1930s. In that agenda, legislators would gut Social Security (take that, FDR), reward big oil with a new pipeline (thanks for the patronage, Koch brothers), chip away at Affordable Care (gotcha, Barack) and appease social conservatives.

They would treat the world as a simple place where government must shrink, people must suffer and the precious few must get richer.

Sicily Bishop Forbids Church Funerals for Mobsters

Photo courtesy RNS/Flickr.

Image of The Godfather-like stencil reading “The Church.” Photo courtesy RNS/Flickr.

A bishop in Sicily has issued an unprecedented decree that says convicted mobsters will be denied a church funeral.

The measure was announced on Saturday by Bishop Antonino Raspanti, during a meeting with Italy’s justice minister, Anna Maria Cancellieri.

Churches in the Diocese of Acireale will refuse to celebrate funerals for mobsters who have been convicted with a final sentence in Italy’s three-tier court system, and who have shown no sign of repentance before death, according to the decree.

Vatican Lifts Suspension of Priest who Altered Prayers at Mass

An Illinois priest who was forced out of his parish by his bishop for improvising prayers during Mass has had his suspension reversed by the Vatican.

The Vatican decided in favor of the Rev. William Rowe on one of three counts, saying Bishop Edward Braxton of Belleville, Ill., had not followed the proper procedure.

The Vatican's reversal means he can celebrate Mass in another diocese, Rowe said, as long as he has the local bishop's approval. Others, however, disputed that interpretation of the decree. 

In a letter that accompanied the document, Monsignor Antonio Neri, an undersecretary of the Vatican's Congregation for the Clergy, said Rowe could only return to celebrating Mass “when you shall have acknowledged your error and formally promise to dispose yourself to adhere to the rights and rubrics of the sacred liturgy set down by the lawful ecclesiastical authorities.”

The Vatican sided with the bishop on two counts: upholding his removal from the parish, and agreeing with the bishop's withdrawal of the priest's "faculties" — or his license to practice ministry under church law.

What’s Next for the First Catholic Bishop Convicted in Sex Abuse Cover-Up?

RNS photo courtesy Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph

Finn is charged with failing to report suspected child abuse. RNS photo courtesy Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph

Finn, leader of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph and an outspoken conservative in the American hierarchy, was convicted of a single misdemeanor count for not telling police that one of his priests, the Rev. Shawn Ratigan, had taken hundreds of lewd images of children in Catholic schools and parishes.

But even as he became the first U.S. bishop ever convicted in criminal court for shielding an abusive priest, Finn’s standing inside the church appears uncertain, and the subject of intense debate.

Should he stay or should he go? Finn has indicated that he wants to tough it out.

Father Benedict Groeschel Leaves Catholic Cable Show After Abuse Remarks

 RNS photo courtesy Franciscan Friars of the Renewal

The Rev. Benedict Groeschel (seated). RNS photo courtesy Franciscan Friars of the Renewal

The Rev. Benedict Groeschel, a well-known Catholic author and television personality, has given up his longtime spot on the conservative cable network EWTN following comments in which he appeared to defend clergy who abuse children while blaming some victims.

“Father Benedict has led a life of tremendous compassion and service to others and his spiritual insights have been a great gift to the EWTN family for many years. We are profoundly grateful to him and assure him of our prayers,” Michael P. Warsaw, head of EWTN Global Catholic Network said in announcing Groeschel’s decision to step down.

In his statement on Monday Warsaw also asked EWTN viewers “to pray for all those who have been affected by this painful situation and in particular those who have been victims of sexual abuse.”

Episcopal Bishop on Gay Weddings: Yes, But No

Episcopal Bishop Kee Sloan of Alabama. Photo from the Episcopal Diocese of Ala.

Episcopal Bishop Kee Sloan of Alabama. Photo from the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Episcopal Bishop Kee Sloan of Alabama voted in favor of his church's new ritual for blessing same-sex unions — but he won't allow priests in his diocese to perform it.

“For the time being, I will not give permission,” Sloan said.

The blessing of same-gender unions is still too divisive an issue for Alabama, he said.

“It’s not good at this time in this place,” Sloan said. “I’m trying to avoid any further division.”

Episcopalians overwhelmingly approved the new rite for same-sex couples July 10 at the denomination's General Convention. Bishops do not have to allow them, however, and about 10 active bishops have said they will not. The denomination has 110 dioceses in all.

Leontine T.C. Kelly, Pioneering African-American Woman Bishop, Dies At 92

RNS photo by Mike DuBose / United Methodist Church Service

RNS photo by Mike DuBose / United Methodist Church Service

Retired United Methodist Bishop Leontine T.C. Kelly, the first African-American woman elected to the episcopacy by a major religious denomination, died Thursday (June 28). The teacher, pastoral leader and activist was considered a pioneer for her ministry of more than two decades. She was 92.

Her death was reported by United Methodist News Service.

Bishop Judith Craig, who was elected a Methodist bishop just hours after Kelly in 1984, recalled the pioneer’s “audacious” life.

“She never ran from challenge or controversy, and she also stood fast in her convictions,” Craig told the denominational news service.

Woman Fights Her Bishop on Church Closures and Wins

RNS photo by Lisa DeJong/The Plain Dealer

Patricia Schulte-Singleton, 53, never gave up the fight to save St. Patrick church. RNS photo by Lisa DeJong/The Plain Dealer

When Bishop Richard Lennon began closing 50 Catholic churches in and around Cleveland three years ago, the bulk of the faithful quietly moved on.

Some drifted to other parishes. Some didn't go to church at all. Others elected to fight for their lost sanctuaries, taking up protest signs, joining prayer vigils, signing petitions and filing appeals to the Vatican.

Many who resisted the closings worked quietly, too timid to publicly confront ecclesiastical authority, which, since childhood, they had been taught to respect.

But Patricia Schulte-Singleton was not intimidated by a Roman collar, a bishop's edict or the raised eyebrows of the obedient.

Before Politics, Mitt Romney Was a Mormon Bishop

Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney addresses supporters as he campaigns in Maryland. Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The Mitt Romney whom many Americans see today is often depicted as wealthy, wooden and out of touch with the working class. To some, he seems gaffe prone, detached, even distant.

But that's not the man Boston Mormons knew in the late 1980s and early '90s, when many saw him as an eloquent speaker, a compassionate counselor and a creative problem-solver, generous with his money and quick to help any in need.

Are the two guys related?