Apparently, he’s finally gone.
I speak of former Kansas City-St. Joseph Bishop Robert W. Finn, who bathed himself in ignominy and shamed the diocese.
Some friends who are members of Visitation Catholic Church, said the Rev. Patrick Rush, Visitation’s pastor, announced recently that Finn had moved to Lincoln, NE, to serve as chaplain at a nuns’ convent.
Very fitting. After being convicted three years ago of a misdemeanor charge of child sexual-abuse cover-up, he can’t serve in a parish. And Pope Francis, who called him to Rome and demanded his immediate resignation, certainly doesn’t want him anywhere near the Vatican.
Plus, the Diocese of Lincoln has a reputation as one of the most conservative in the country. That should suit Finn, an adherent to the ultra-conservative Opus Dei association of priests.
After resigning last April 21, Finn continued living for a time in palatial quarters that had been renovated to his specifications several years ago in diocesan offices at 20 W. 9th St. That arrangement continued during the months that Joseph Naumann, leader of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, served as administrator of the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese.
I believe the move to Lincoln took place shortly before or after the new permanent bishop, James V. Johnston Jr., arrived from Springfield, MO, in November. From what my friends told me, Finn and the bishop in Lincoln are friends and the friend invited Finn to take the Nebraska post.
It sounds to me like Finn slinked out the back door when he left Kansas City….The Star apparently didn’t find out about it — no article — and I don’t think the diocesan newspaper, the Catholic Key, reported his departure. The last article I could find about Finn on the Key’s website (which is a certifiable disaster — no dates on any stories accessed on the search button) was the announcement last spring that he was resigning. The Key never wrote anything negative about Finn. Of course, Finn was in charge of the paper and kept a heavy thumb on the reporters and editors.
…Meanwhile, the nasty stew that Finn cooked up shortly before he was asked to resign is still playing out and untangling. He ordered several extremely controversial priest reassignments, including naming a problematic Northland pastor to succeed Pat Rush at Visitation.
For space reasons, I’m not gong into detail about the Northland priest (you can read all about it here, if you’d like)…but suffice it to say some Visitation parishioners created such a squall that Archbishop Naumann canceled that reassignment and a few others. As a result, Rush had to delay by a year his planned retirement.
Another priest who had to delay his retirement was Robert Rost, who was at odds with Finn and whom Finn had consigned to the boonies of northern Missouri several years ago. Rost had to put off retirement because Finn had reassigned another priest he was at odds with — Don Farnan, pastor at St. Thomas More — to replace Rost in northern Missouri. But Farnan torpedoed that plan when he dug in his heels and said he wouldn’t report until after he had taken a sabbatical.
I’ll never forget what Don Farnan told me about that conversation with Finn: “He sort of went off.”
Very telling. Perfect temperament, don’t you think, for a bishop who had hundreds of people reporting to him? In the end, Farnan remained at St. Thomas More, but he could get reassigned in the spring, the time of year priest reassignments are usually announced.
(As you know, I usually run photos of my blog subjects. In this case, I just can’t bring myself to do it. But you can picture him.)
A couple of closing thoughts:
First, I wonder what those nuns in Lincoln think about Finn. You might remember that under Pope Benedict XVI, the Vatican ordered an umbrella group for U.S. nuns to “shape up,” in so many words, after an investigation concluded the nuns’ group had taken positions that undermined Roman Catholic teaching on the priesthood and homosexuality, while promoting “radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.” I would bet anything that Finn was 100 percent in favor of hammering the nuns. Pope Francis, by the way, has pressed forward with the reformation. (It’s still a good ol’ boys club, you know.)
Second, I wonder what kind of living quarters Finn has now…I’d like to believe what my Visitation friends jokingly suggested: He’s living in an Airstream out back.
(Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa…God, please forgive me for being so mean-spirited, but I think I should get a pass on this one.)
Editor’s note: It’s Saturday morning (I posted the Finn piece Friday night), and I just read The Star’s story about special prosecutor William Seay charging Highway Patrol Officer Anthony Piercy with involuntary manslaughter in Brandon Ellingson’s May 2014 drowning at Lake of the Ozarks. “I have charged him with recklessly causing the death… It relates to an unjustifiable risk being taken,” Seay said. Seay (pronounced See) is the second special prosecutor who reviewed this awful case. The first special prosecutor, Amanda Grellner, fumbled and bumbled the case not once but twice, wasting precious months. Seay, a former prosecutor and retired Circuit Court judge in the Ozarks area, got it right. He hired an investigator, took his time compiling the evidence and then lowering the boom on a totally ill-trained water patrol officer, who also had the distinct disadvantage of lacking common sense and compassion. Congratulations Mr. Seay!