Reaction to the announcement that Pope Francis had accepted Bishop Robert W. Finn’s resignation ranged across a wide spectrum Tuesday.
“There are some groups that I know are elated and overjoyed and there are some groups that are saddened by it. I think he did what he felt best for the diocese under the circumstances. I wish him the best and I will continue to pray for him.”
| Mike Murtha, a Finn supporter who has attended St. John Francis Regis Catholic Church in south Kansas City.
“Pope Francis’s removal of Bishop Robert Finn … is a good step but just a beginning. The pope must show that this decision represents a meaningful shift in papal practice — that it signals a new era in bishop accountability. But what no pope has done to date is publicly confirm that he removed a culpable bishop because of his failure to make children’s safety his first priority. We urge Pope Francis to issue such a statement immediately. That … would send a bracing message to bishops and religious superiors worldwide that a new era has begun.”
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| Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director, BishopAccountability.org, a group that tracks the abuse crisis in the Catholic church.
“I still admire him deeply. I am saddened about his resignation and I feel a great deal of sympathy for him.… In the end, he got caught up in the cross currents of Vatican II. He did things differently than what a lot of people wanted…. He wasn’t like a political bishop but he was a holy bishop and he made some mistakes I found not so easy to forgive at first but I realized that he didn’t do this intentionally, it was a mistake and I wish the community could have forgiven him.…I know from the very beginning that in his heart, he was very hurt by his mistakes and the mistakes of diocese in how they handled it. He is a really good man and I really feel for him.”
| Jim Dougherty, a former Kansas City resident who now serves as a church deacon in Hawaii.
“It’s truly a sad day for the people of the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese. But this was the right thing to do.… The Catholic Church has promised zero tolerance. And that means zero tolerance.… I think this will help the majority of the people. The sentiment pretty much is that this is a good thing.”
| Tom Caffrey, a lifelong Catholic whose two sons have received settlements in sexual abuse lawsuits against the diocese and one of its priests.
“Bishop Finn is still a bishop. God is in control and God takes us on different paths and we are sure he (Finn) is still going to serve the church dutifully in the same he has served here in Kansas City.”
| Theresa Lynn, a member of Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church and part of a group that launched the Justice for Bishop Finn website four years ago.
“It is a great day for the people of northwest Missouri. It is going to help bring some credibility back to the Catholic church.… I just hope they can find somebody who can come in … and be a strong leader and will help make sure that children are protected.”
| Jim McConnell, a parishioner at Holy Family Catholic Church in Kansas City, North who halted plans to become a deacon because he didn’t want Finn to ordain him. Initially a Finn supporter, his opinion changed because of the Rev. Shawn Ratigan matter.
“It was a long time in coming. I think he (Finn) is an ineffective leader and he has paralyzed our diocese. I think now is a time of grace and healing. I hope going forward that the diocese is able to become compassionate towards the parishioners, become more understanding and allow us to heal.”
| Carolyne Cook, a parishioner at St. James, 39th Street and Troost Avenue.
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“Hoping reforms to protect children remain in the diocese. And fresh leadership embrace new protections for society’s most vulnerable members.”
| Tweet from Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker, who prosecuted Finn for not reporting child abuse by a priest.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the clergy, religious and faithful of the Diocese of Kansas City-St Joseph at this time of transition. The Archdiocese of St. Louis stands ready to support those entrusted with the interim care of the diocese in any way.”
| Written statement from Archbishop Robert J. Carlson in St. Louis.
“The resignation of Bishop Finn … is not a moment for applause in the continuing crisis of sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church. It is a moment to ask why it took so long. It is a moment to ask when the others who protected and continue to protect abusers will be removed. It is a moment to ask why there are continuing defenders of bishops and religious superiors for predator priests and religious men and women, and diocesan staffs. May today's announcement, terse as it was from the Vatican, give a measure of peace to the survivors.”
| Kristine Ward, chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition.
Compiled by Judy L. Thomas and Glenn E. Rice, The Star