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Sunday, June 12, 2011

KC bishop unlikely to resign over scandal

KANSAS CITY (AP) — Experts said the bishop of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph is unlikely to resign, despite the uproar he’s facing over how he handled concerns about a priest recently charged with possessing child pornography.
Rev. Shawn Ratigan
It is extremely rare for a Catholic bishop to resign, and only the pope can remove someone from the job, said the Rev. Thomas Reese, a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University.
“My guess is this has not risen to the level where the Vatican would want him to resign,” Reese said.
Bishop Robert Finn has apologized publicly at least three times and has said he regretted he didn’t take action earlier in the case of the Rev. Shawn Ratigan. Ratigan pleaded not guilty last month to three counts of possessing child pornography. He’s in custody on $200,000 bond. The diocese did not respond to a call seeking comment from Finn on Tuesday.
Reese said other bishops have resigned in the past decade, but those stemmed from allegations of sexual impropriety against them, not because of how they handled cases involving their priests. “The Vatican has to be convinced that what the guy did was egregious,” he said.
About 20 Catholics protested across the street from the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception last Saturday, calling on Finn to step down as an ordination ceremony for deacons was going on inside.
Twice as many, however, showed up to support Finn.
“I think he has lost a lot of his effectiveness,” said Janice Andwander, who attended a recent public session with Finn. “There is not a lot of faith in his leadership.”
Andwander said the recent problem has diminished much of the good work the church and lay leaders have done. “Things keep getting swept under the rug,” she said. “Now it is time to take away the rug.”

Finn’s supporters have been vocal as well. Jim Dougherty, a candidate for permanent diaconate in the diocese, said he supported Finn and believed the bishop would work to improve conditions within the diocese.
“He is a good man, and he is a holy man; he really wants to do the right thing,” Dougherty said. “I am inspired by his holiness and his courage, and he is the kind of man I would like to be.”

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