I leave very early tomorrow morning for Chicago to attend the farewell events for Cardinal Francis George, a very good friend of mine, as you known from these pages. I doubt I’ll be able to post tomorrow but always check in – you never know! I will do my best to post something while I am in Chicago. I’ll be downtown for three nights and then wil spend two nights with a cousin in Glenview before I return to Rome.
There’s always something big happening in Rome and today, April 21 is often the biggest day of the year for Romans and visitors. You see, April 21 is Rome’s birthday. The Eternal City is 2,768 years old – born in 753 BC! There are endless events – cultural, musical, etc. – celebrated both on this day and during the weekend closest to this date. It is also a day of free entrance to monuments such as the Colosseum, etc.
Read on for two important stories: The first is dated today and concerns Bishop Finn’s resignation as shepherd of Kansas City-St. Joseph, and the second story is the papal message sent yesterday to the Patriarch of the Ethiopian Tewahedo Orthodox Church when the Holy Father learned of the killing of 28 Ethiopian Christians kidnapped in Libya by ISIS.
POPE FRANCIS ACCEPTS RESIGNATION OF U.S. BISHOP ROBERT FINN
(CNA/EWTN News).- Bishop Robert W. Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph has resigned, nearly two and a half years after being the first U.S. bishop convicted of a misdemeanor in failing to report suspected child abuse by a priest in his diocese.
The Vatican confirmed Pope Francis’ acceptance of Bishop Finn’s resignation according to Canon 104 Article 2 in the Code of Canon Law in an April 21 statement, released at noon local time. Article 2 of Canon 104, according to the Vatican’s website, refers to a situation when “a diocesan bishop who has become less able to fulfill his office because of ill health or some other grave cause is earnestly requested to present his resignation from office.”
Finn’s resignation will take effect immediately, and although he will still be a bishop, he will no longer lead a diocese. It is up to Pope Francis to choose his successor.
The brief Vatican statement gave no word as to what Bishop Finn will do following his resignation. Last September, two years after Bishop Finn’s trial and guilty verdict, an archbishop held a visitation on behalf of the Vatican and met with Bishop Finn. The reasons for the visitation were not revealed, however some reports indicate that the visitation was intended to evaluate the bishop’s leadership of his diocese.
In September 2012, Bishop Finn, now 62, was convicted on a misdemeanor count of failure to report suspected child abuse after he and his diocese failed to report that lewd images of children had been found on a laptop belonging to Fr. Shawn Ratigan, a priest of the diocese, in December 2010. The diocese’s vicar general had told Bishop Finn about one of the images, but the bishop did not see them himself.
Fr. Ratigan attempted suicide after the images were discovered and initially had not been expected to live. Diocesan officials told law enforcement officials about the images in May 2011, months after their discovery. A diocese-commissioned independent investigation said diocesan officials conducted “a limited and improperly conceived investigation” into whether a single image, which the vicar general did not see, constituted child pornography. The diocese’s legal counsel also said that that single image did not constitute child pornography.
Further investigation revealed that the photos had been taken in and around churches where the priest had worked. In 2012, Fr. Ratigan was sentenced to 50 years in federal prison on child pornography charges. Bishop Finn was sentenced to two years’ probation for failing to report suspected abuse.
The diocese settled two lawsuits from the parents of two girls photographed by Fr. Ratigan for a total of $1.8 million in February 2014. The Fr. Ratigan case has also triggered further legal action from an arbitrator who levied a $1.1 million penalty against the diocese, on the grounds that the diocese violated the terms of a 2008 abuse lawsuit settlement in which Bishop Finn and the diocese agreed to report suspected child abusers to law enforcement. The diocese objected to the arbitrator’s penalty, but it was upheld in court and the diocese paid the fine.
POPE SPEAKS OF “SHOCKING VIOLENCE AGAINST INNOCENT CHRISTIANS IN LIBYA”
(VIS) – Yesterday afternoon Pope Francis sent a message to the Patriarch of the Ethiopian Tewahedo Orthodox Church, His Holiness Abuna Matthias, upon hearing of the slaughter of 28 Ethiopian Christians kidnapped in Libya by the group ISIS. (photo from news.va)
“With great distress and sadness I learn of the further shocking violence perpetrated against innocent Christians in Libya. I know that Your Holiness is suffering deeply in heart and mind at the sight of your faithful children being killed for the sole reason that they are followers of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. I reach out to you in heartfelt spiritual solidarity to assure you of my closeness in prayer at the continuing martyrdom being so cruelly inflicted on Christians in Africa, the Middle East and some parts of Asia.
“It makes no difference whether the victims are Catholic, Copt, Orthodox or Protestant. Their blood is one and the same in their confession of Christ! The blood of our Christian brothers and sisters is a testimony which cries out to be heard by everyone who can still distinguish between good and evil. All the more this cry must be heard by those who have the destiny of peoples in their hands.
“At this time we are filled with the Easter joy of the disciples to whom the women had brought the news that ‘Christ has risen from the dead’. This year, that joy – which never fades – is tinged with profound sorrow. Yet we know that the life we live in God’s merciful love is stronger than the pain all Christians feel, a pain shared by men and women of good will in all religious traditions.
“With heartfelt condolences I exchange with Your Holiness the embrace of peace in Christ Our Lord.”