Hawking's atheism confirmed: 9-29-14
Can female evangelicals lead? 10-1-14

Is Finn now more vulnerable? 9-30-14

Pope Francis last week fired a bishop who has been accused of protecting a priest suspected of child abuse.

Finn-1That was the good news. The bad news for people in the Kansas City area is that the bishop in question wasn't Robert W. Finn of the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. (Finn in this photo is seen greeting visitors to the newly refurbished downtown diocesan headquarters when it opened in 2011.)

Finn, as surely most of you know, was convicted two years ago of a misdemeanor for failing to report suspected child abuse by an area priest.

The pontiff's action removing Bishop Rogelio Ricardo Livieres Plano from his position as head of the diocese of Ciudad del Este in Paraguay was an indication of what seems to be the pope's growing commitment to cleaning up the priest sexual abuse scandal. He's moving too slowly, if you ask me, and I'm not at all sure that he's recognized all of the causes of the scandal and moved to undo them. But he's moving in the right direction.

Indeed, The National Catholic Reporter published this story yesterday indicating that Bishop Finn finally is under investigation by the Vatican.

As the story to which I've linked you in the first paragraph above notes, the pope's action against the bishop in Paraguay came shortly after his approval of the arrest in the Vatican of a former archbishop who was accused of paying for sex with children while he was a papal ambassador in the Dominican Republic.

So perhaps we're beginning to see the pope giving more attention to this abuse matter. Perhaps the damage that Bishop Finn has done to the diocese here and to the idea that the church must always protect vulnerable children will come to the pontiff's attention in a way that will cause him to remove Finn from office as he did Bishop Rogelio Ricardo Livieres Plano.

As I wrote almost a year ago in this National Catholic Reporter column about this subject, "Compassion, love and justice require Finn's removal from office." I think that's still true. My hope is that we're moving toward a time when the pope also thinks it's true, though we're not there yet. And as disheartening as it sounds to say so, we may never get there. And yet yesterday's NCR news story gives me hope.

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The under-fire police chief of Ferguson, Mo., has been in almost daily contact with a group in that St. Louis suburb called "Clergy United," this RNS piece reports. Like most controversial news stories, what happened in Ferguson is much more complicated than it may first have appeared. And if we don't pay attention to the nuances and the personalities involved, we'll get it wrong.


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