Catholics Urge Pope to Remove Bishop Who Ignored Child Sex Abuser

Less than two weeks after the Vatican complained that it wasn’t its handling of child sex abuse cases that was problematic but a UN report that dared to dive into matters of Catholic doctrine, a group of Catholics from Kansas City, MO, has petitioned Pope Francis to remove a bishop found guilty of concealing pedophilia, the New York Times reports.

The request was made by 13 parishioners, a nun who coordinated victims’ assistance for the Kansas City diocese, and a priest, the Rev. James Connell. It was backed by an online petition signed by 113,000 Catholics. They asked Pope Francis to remove Bishop Robert Finn, who was convicted in 2012 of a misdemeanor charge of failing to report a priest who had pornographic images of children on his computer. The priest is currently serving 50 years for taking the pictures but Finn remains in place as the head of the diocese.

The UN report said that the Vatican’s failure to remove bishops who facilitated pedophilia by failing to report it or moving abusers from parish to parish was one of the major unresolved problems of the church’s handling of the child sex abuse scandal.

Father Connell, a canon lawyer who is part of Catholic Whistleblowers, said in the letter to Pope Francis that canon law requires a “just penalty” for someone who allows harm to befall another by failing to exercise their ecclesiastical power. Catholic Whistleblowers, a group of nuns and priests working to hold the Vatican accountable on sexual abuse, made many of the same recommendations outlined in the UN report, including removing bishops who allowed abuse to occur on their watch, the lifting of all pledges of secrecy extracted by church authorities, and public access to all documentation related to abuse cases.

Patricia Miller is the author of Good Catholics: The Battle over Abortion in the Catholic Church. Her work on the intersection of sex, religion, and politics has appeared in The Nation, Ms., and Huffington Post. She was the editor of Conscience magazine and the editor-in-chief of the National Journal’s health care briefings.

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