Wednesday, September 19, 2012

This is Asinine

As many are away, on September 6th Bishop Robert Finn of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph was convicted of a misdemeanor for failing to report one of his priests for suspected child abuse. This conviction sets a precedent, it seems, for Bishop Finn is the first bishop criminally charged in connection with the clergy sex abuse scandal that has, for better or worse, largely defined the Catholic Church this last decade.

I find it wholly mind-numbing that Bishop Finn has not resigned his position. If you read the Dallas Charter, Article 4:

Dioceses/eparchies are to report an allegation of sexual abuse of a person who is a
minor to the public authorities
. Dioceses/eparchies are to comply with all applicable civil laws with respect to the reporting of allegations of sexual abuse of minors to civil authorities and cooperate in their investigation in accord with the law of the jurisdiction in question.
Dioceses/eparchies are to cooperate with public authorities about reporting cases even
when the person is no longer a minor.
In every instance, dioceses/eparchies are to advise victims of their right to make a report
to public authorities and support this right.
This text was revised in 2011 and this draft was approved by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Bishop Finn, elevated to the episcopacy in 2004, is a member of the USCCB. He voted on this. He failed to live up to its norms.

I think this is completely asinine and the fact that countless women and men continue to lose faith in the Church is no surprise. It boggles my mind that a priest in Illinois was suspended from public ministry for deviating from liturgical prayers but a bishop who failed to report for child abuse retains his post.

It is most reassuring to know that the abuse of the wording of a liturgical prayer merits harsher punishment than the failure to report a child molester.

Bishop Daniel Conlon is undoubtedly right when he says that the credibility of the Church is "shredded" when it comes to the issue of sexual abuse. How can we possibly preach the Good News when there is a fundamental mistrust of those doing the preaching, a lack of confidence in the institution?

Whenever we pray the Confiteor, there is a line, "in what I have done and it what I have failed to do." Sadly, Bishop Finn's omission - what he failed to do - will mark him forever and each day that he remains in office, the credibility of the Church's episcopacy is called further into question. For the good of the faithful, I would think it best for him to say loudly mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa and leave office to dedicate himself to prayer and penance not only on his own behalf, but on behalf of all of us - clergy and lay - who have failed to live up to our baptismal call.

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