Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of the only American bishop to have been convicted of failing to report suspected child abuse, the Vatican announced today.
The resignation of Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City–St Joseph “because of ill health or some other grave cause” took effect from Tuesday.
Bishop Finn, 62, was given a sentence of two years’ court-supervised probation for failing to report an instance of clergy sex abuse to the authorities.
Bishop Finn failed to inform the authorities when a computer technician discovered hundreds of indecent photos of underage minors on the laptop of a priest, Fr Shawn Ratigan. Finn sent him for therapy and ordered him to not be near children. But he continued to attend church events and take inappropriate photos of girls for five more months. Church officials reported him in May 2011, without Bishop Finn’s approval.
Although the bishop avoided jail, campaigners called for the Pope to discipline and remove him. And since the establishment of the Vatican’s Commission for the Protection of Minors a year ago, Bishop Finn’s situation has been seen as a test case for Pope Francis.
Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley, head of the commission, told CBS News 60 Minutes last November that the Vatican must “urgently” address the case of Bishop Finn, and said that Francis recognised the urgency.