Friday, September 07, 2012

A Bishop Gets Probation: Just a Start, That's All

Bishop Robert Finn, head of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, was convicted this week of a misdemeanor charge of failing to report a child-abusing priest to the authorities.  (Details of the abuse from which this charge arises can be found in this previous post.)

The bishop was given probation.  That's what you would expect, I guess.  It's only a misdemeanor charge, right?  I'm being ironic, obviously.  Knowing that the priest was abusing children--multiple children, it looks like--and failing to report it was not enough to earn the bishop anything worse than probation.

Here's an idea.  Why doesn't the bishop model true repentance by resigning?  This was not the first case of child abuse to which the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese turned a blind eye.  After previous cases of abuse were publicized by the media (not the diocese), Bishop Finn promised that the diocese would shape up.  However, when the new case arose, Finn failed to notify police as well as the diocesan review board, the agency that was created in the wake of the earlier scandal:  the agency charged with unearthing accusations of abuse and forwarding those accusations in an expeditious manner to the police and prosecutors.  Now, of course, in September 2012, Bishop Finn no doubt intends to reassure his flock that he next time that which he was supposed to do this time and which he in fact failed to do.

Here's a bishop who has an opportunity to show the faithful what true repentance looks like.  He can resign.  He can make of himself an example to which other bishops would have to pay attention.  He has the power to do that...even if the judge said that nothing more than probation was warranted.  The Church has got to have higher standards than that--right?  Especially when kids' welfare is at stake.

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