Clergy Unrest in Kansas City

The NYT surfaces the concerns of Kansas City priests, several conceding that their bishop’s resignation would be a good idea. Fr Michael Clary:

I think it would be easier for us to move forward without Bishop Finn as our bishop.

Bishop Finn is not without defenders, like Fr Vince Rogers:

Yes, there is a divide in the presbyterate, but in my opinion it’s the same old tired divide that has existed from the day he arrived. In a word, some of the priests wish that we had a more liberal bishop, and they are willing to use any means to achieve that end.

On the other hand, some people might posit that having a discredited conservative bishop is better than having an effective conservative. Robert Finn continues to serve as an example that serious sin can be blind, and that committed Catholics who style themselves “faithful” or “orthodox” or “obedient” are no more inclined to be virtuous than those who pose questions, or who are unorthodox, or who otherwise think the Church is going in a bad direction with poor leadership and ministry priorities.

Bishop Finn’s more vocal defenders contribute nothing to the diocese’s practical unity as long as a significant portion of the community think the man should go. And there are concerns that the bishop’s apology seems ambivalent. Fr Matthew Brumleve:

Some say he has made that apology, he has said he’s sorry, but he hasn’t told us what he’s sorry for. Is he sorry he got caught? Is he sorry we don’t see things the way he sees them? Or is he truly sorry for letting down the children of this diocese?

Others think Bishop Finn has satisfied. Fr Angelo Bartulica:

I believe he’s accepted responsibility for what happened and he’s paying the price for it. I don’t understand what more people want.

Let me start a list: sincerity, contrition for specific offenses and the acknowledgement that children were harmed, and that faith has been damaged by scandal, a concession that this is a serious scandal, a disavowal of defenders who perpetrate myths about pornography, an open discussion about what his resignation would accomplish. Bishop Finn will need to symbolic leadership in the range of the witness given by many of his brother bishops of the previous, discredited generation: lifestyle choices and liturgical choices, plus a public ritual not unlike the one given by Archbishop Martin in Dublin.

Otherwise, I suppose I’m content to see him remain in office for what should be sixteen years with a far less effective ministry than it could have been. And if his agenda was more ideological than spiritual, maybe that’s not a bad situation. Too bad that a new Kansas City high school is looking at cutting fundraising expectations 62%. Too bad that sins of exploitation and sex have become a snicker and comedy material. In 2007, I think the bishop was right to focus on the scourge of pornography in the lives of men. I don’t find that effort at all sneer-worthy. Too bad it was limited to the sins of lay people in their homes. Maybe if it included a look at the burdens and temptations within Holy Orders, this episcopacy would have turned out far differently.

Another object lesson in speck, plank, eye. Something we all need to keep in mind. Does Kansas City have a bishop who can lead that mindfulness? And if you think Bishop Finn is the man, why would that be?

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
This entry was posted in bishops, Commentary, sex abuse. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Clergy Unrest in Kansas City

  1. Some public gesture, anything… but it seems like so little. And as usual, only because of who got “caught.”

    A little humility, a modicum of honesty, a hint of remorse… no, it seems not.

    And to Fr. Bartulica… what do people want? I don’t know, maybe if you had the heart to understand what it means to have your child (or yourself) sexually compromised by a priest, you might pose a different question. Or at least begin with an apology that you are sorry that people had to go through what they did.

    What do people want? A church that is lead by someone who is like Jesus in some way. Frankly, I do not see that present in the KC at all.

    God have mercy on all of us.

  2. Darrel Cook says:

    I often wonder what was Finn’s plans for Ratigan. If Ratigan had behaved himself, for just a few months. Would he now be a pastor for some unsuspecting parents/children? Hard to believe that Ratigan was the 1st abusive priest that Finn failed to report.

    A heartfelt thanks to Fr Clary and Fr Brumleve for speaking out. It’s nice to know that not all clergy agree with the leadership of our diocese. It’s embarrassing to be a member of the Catholic church. You have given me some hope for the future.

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