Monday 26 September 2016

Pope accepts resignation of US bishop over paedophile priest

Published 21/04/2015 | 12:13

Pope Francis
Pope Francis

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of a US bishop who pleaded guilty to failing to report a priest suspected of child abuse, in the first known case of a pope cracking down on a bishop who covered up for a paedophile.

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The Vatican said Bishop Robert Finn offered his resignation under the code of canon law that allows bishops to resign early for illness or some "grave" reason that makes them unfit for office. It did not provide the reason.

Finn, who leads the diocese of Kansas City-St Joseph in Missouri, waited six months before notifying police about the Rev Shawn Ratigan, whose computer contained hundreds of lewd photos of young girls taken in and around churches where he worked.

Ratigan was sentenced to 50 years in prison after pleading guilty to child pornography charges.

Finn pleaded guilty to a misdemeanour charge of failure to report suspected abuse and was sentenced to two years' probation in 2012.

He remains the highest-ranking church official in the US to be convicted of failing to take action in response to abuse allegations.

Bishop Robert Finn, of Kansas City, Mo. Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Finn who pleaded guilty to failing to report a suspected priestly child abuser, answering demands of victims to crackdown on bishops who covered up for pedophiles. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)
Bishop Robert Finn, of Kansas City, Mo. Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Finn who pleaded guilty to failing to report a suspected priestly child abuser, answering demands of victims to crackdown on bishops who covered up for pedophiles. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

The Vatican's failure to sanction or remove him had fuelled victims' complaints that bishops were continuing to enjoy protections even under the "zero tolerance" pledge of Francis.

Even Francis's leading adviser on issues surrounding sex abuse, Cardinal Sean O'Malley, had said publicly that Francis needed to "urgently" address Finn's case.

The Vatican sent a Canadian archbishop to Finn's diocese last autumn as part of his an investigation of his leadership.

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