Friday, November 09, 2012

Why the Bishops Should Call Upon Biship Finn to Resign

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops will soon be meeting in Baltimore. As the P-D and other venues explain, the bishops are not at all inclined to deal openly with the conviction that Bishop Robert Finn incurred on a charge of failing to report suspected sexual abuse of a child. (See this previous blog entry on Bishop Finn's trial and guilty verdict.)

Photo from library site at University of St. Thomas 
Here are a few simple reasons his fellow bishops should sponsor, and then pass, a resolution calling for Bishop Finn to resign:

  • The bishops want and need to demonstrate that they stand behind their Dallas Charter from 2002, which created a zero tolerance policy for child abusers in the priesthood. That same policy should be applied to members of the hierarchy who cover up child abuse.
  • The bishops know they will never be taken seriously on child abuse--by those outside of the church or those within--if they allow Bishop Finn to remain in their ranks.
  • The bishops should be personally disgusted by the fact that Bishop Finn personally handed over to the  abuser's family a computer on which the abuser had child pornography--content that Bishop Finn was well aware of at the time he gave them this evidence. The family took the computer home and destroyed it. No doubt that's exactly what Bishop Finn expected when he handed it to them.
  • The bishops need to stop whining about how no one (the White House, the media, etc.) pays any attention to their complaints on the HHS mandate, discrimination against undocumented workers, etc. If the bishops cannot call upon one of their own to resign after that man has been convicted of child endangerment, why should anyone take them seriously when they speak in the public sphere? Their credibility is on the line here in a very fundamental way.
Please note that I'm not calling on the bishops to send Finn to a dungeon or to kick out of membership in the church, nor am I suggesting that only those without sin should serve as bishops, archbishops, or cardinals. But they have to set the standard higher than the behavior Finn engaged in.  In fact, if the bishops call upon Finn to resign and he fails to do so, they should approach the Vatican and ask that the Holy Father request Finn's resignation.

Yes, I would like to believe that my church  takes child abuse that seriously--finally, after all these years, after all those decades of criminal negligence.  But I guess we'll all see whether that's the case or not.

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