The long-anticipated move out of Rome — the move that I had nearly given up hope on — has come to pass.
Kansas City Bishop Robert Finn — reviled by thousands of area Catholics since being convicted of failing to report priest sexual abuse in the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese — is out.
Hallelujah! Hosanna in the Highest!
Break out all the cliches. And, more important, break out the hats and hooters (the party variety): Those dispirited Catholics, as well as the rest of us who have watched this sorry spectacle drag out for three years, are in a mood to party.
A good friend of ours who has worked at the Catholic chancery for 20 years texted me and Patty the thrilling news at 6:36 a.m. The message:
“And Finn is out of here! And the crowds roar!”
That last sentence was figurative, of course, but so fitting.
Archbishop Joseph Naumann of the Diocese of Kansas City in Kansas will serve as “Apostolic Administrator” until Pope Francis appoints a new bishop.
Naumann met with employees at 10:15 a.m at the chancery, 20 W. 9th Street. His first words, our friend at the chancery said, were: “How about those Royals?”
For the record The Kansas City Star does not have a story in today’s printed edition. Early this morning it posted an Associated Press story on its website. Shortly after 7 a.m., The Star posted a local story under the lead byline of the very able and knowledgeable Judy L. Thomas. Here’s that link…http://www.kansascity.com/news/local/article19121754.html
The New York Times also has a story…http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/22/us/missouri-bishop-convicted-of-shielding-pedophile-priest-resigns.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=first-column-region®ion=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0
The National Catholic Reporter has been leading the way on the story. Here’s the link to today’s report…http://ncronline.org/news/accountability/us-bishop-finn-symbol-churchs-failure-sexual-abuse-resigns
Yesterday, NCR had the “scoop,” with a speculative story that ran under the headline “Kansas City swamped with unsubstantiated rumors of Finn’s resignation.” http://ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/kansas-city-swamped-unsubstantiated-rumors-finns-resignation
Another journalistic note here: Based on yesterday’s NCR story, The Star should have had a story in today’s paper. It dropped the ball, in my opinion.
In addition, it’s my opinion that if Mark Morris, The Star’s brilliant former courts reporter, had not retired last month, The Star would have had a story yesterday. (See his disclaiming comment below.)
Morris not only covered the bench trial in which Finn was convicted of a misdemeanor in the Shawn Ratigan case, but he also tracked diocesan developments closely, reading NCR and other Catholic-related publications regularly. (Mark’s byline appears on today’s web story by Judy Thomas because before leaving the paper he wrote extensive background copy to help the paper be ready for today’s turn of events.)
I have not had a chance to fully read either NCR story, but I’m going to tell you what the chancery employee told me about the lead-up to Finn’s ouster.
A week ago Tuesday night, chancery employees got an e-mail saying Finn was canceling a confirmation (one of Catholicism’s “seven sacraments”) the next day, apparently because he was going out of town.
“He would never cancel a confirmation,” the insider said. “It (the e-mail) didn’t say where he was going or why.”
Suddenly, the atmosphere in the chancery, where morale had been lower than low, began to lift. A feeling that change could be imminent was in the air.
In about 24 hours, Finn was back. And word began to spread in the chancery that the bishop had been summoned to Rome for a meeting. That was big; it might not have signaled a change at the top, but what else could have precipitated such an urgent meeting at the Vatican?
I had heard elsewhere that after returning from Rome, Finn was glum. He’s basically a sourpuss, but apparently he was more glum than usual.
The chancery employee said that since Finn’s return, “I’ve had a steady stream of priests in my office, talking.”
And what was the employee’s overall reaction to the upheaval?
“I want to go to work today…It’s a good day; it’s going to be a good day.”