Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles Defend Bishop Finn
LifeSiteNews, by Lisa Bourne abridged
Denigration of Bishop Finn intensified in 2010 after he learned from his vicar general that a diocesan priest had inappropriate pictures of young girls on his personal computer. The diocese immediately notified a ranking Kansas City police officer, and the pictures were provided to legal counsel as well. Both opined that the photos did not constitute child pornography as they did not contain sexual conduct or contact as defined by Missouri law.
The priest was immediately called and told to appear at the chancery the next day, but he did not. He was instead found unconscious in his garage after an attempted suicide. He remained unconscious for four days, and was not expected to live.
After recovering and undergoing psychiatric care, Bishop Finn removed the priest from pastoral duties, and said he was not allowed electronic devices or any interaction with children. When the priest breached those restrictions, the diocese turned him over to civil authorities. Detectives then discovered images of a pornographic nature at the priest’s family’s home, and he was charged that same day.
Misdemeanor charges were filed against the bishop and the diocese. In order to spare the victims a drawn out jury trial and have the charges against the diocese dropped, which would have likely resulted in crippling insurance increases, Bishop Finn submitted to a one day bench trial and was indicted and found guilty of a misdemeanor for not reporting suspected child abuse.
Many see what took place as a political vendetta against the bishop for his orthodoxy and an obvious attempt to make him an example in the Church sex abuse scandal, as the specifics of his case do not involve him perpetrating or willfully facilitating abuse.
The independent investigation ordered by Bishop Finn did find fault with the diocese’s handling of some parts of the process, but the lapses do not amount to criminal conduct, according to Missouri attorney Michael Quinlan, who said the statute under which Bishop Finn was charged, in fact, doesn’t even apply to the circumstances of the case.
Here is what the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles told LifeSiteNews in an exclusive interview.
“Bishop Finn has always been a solicitous and loving spiritual father to our community since the moment he welcomed us,” she said. The prioress’ affirming and joy-filled assessment refutes the negative caricature of the bishop rendered in the public eye.”
“Bishop Finn has only striven to carry out the mandate given to him before all else by the Church – the salvation of souls,” Mother Cecilia stressed. “But many have forgotten that the Church exists primarily and fundamentally for this: to seek first the Kingdom of God.”
She praises the bishop’s gracious response in the face of attack.
“Regarding the hostility and persecution shown toward our Bishop, I must say with complete admiration, that he has never displayed or spoken in a manner showing any anger or hostility in retaliation of the heaps of it he has himself received,” said Mother Cecilia. “He has always accepted it meekly, and simply continued on faithfully and perseveringly with the commission the Church has given him to build up the mystical body of Christ in truth and charity.”
She credits his caring and committed regard for her sisters as integral to the blooming of the Benedictines.
“He has been a tremendous source of inspiration to each of the sisters,” Mother Cecilia said. “His heroic witness to the faith of the Church, and his quiet determination to reform the diocese despite tremendous opposition is like having one of the saints you read about in history right before your eyes.”
“I guarantee you that Church history will be looking back and telling a different story about this man than the newspapers are at present,” said Mother Cecilia. “There have been many saints that have not been vindicated until long after their death. I have no doubt he will be one of them.”
Bishop Finn Calls The NCR To Fidelity!
The Catholic Key
By: Bishop Robert Finn, Kansas City, MO – When I was editor of the diocesan paper in St. Louis, my office had a statue of St. Francis DeSales, Bishop of Geneva, and Doctor of the Church. Francis died in 1622. He is regarded as a patron of journalists and of the Catholic Press. His feast day is January 24, and has been observed by the Vatican for many years as World Communications Day. Again this year, the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI has used the occasion to give a message to us on Social Communications.
The Forty-Seventh World Communications Day Message is entitled “Social Networks: Portals of Truth and Faith; New Spaces for Evangelization.” Here the Pope speaks about the opportunities for evangelization made possible through social media. He also addresses the moral responsibility we have to use these media in respectful ways. For nearly a half-century these messages have affirmed the value of modern communication in the presentation of the Gospel.
The Church’s Canon law places on the local bishop a particular responsibility to use the media effectively in the work of the Gospel, and to call the media to fidelity in the use of means of social communications.
Canon 747: “It is the obligation and inherent right of the Church, … to preach the Gospel to all people, using for this purpose even its own means of social communication; for it is to the Church that Christ the Lord entrusted the deposit of faith, so that by the assistance of the Holy Spirit, it might conscientiously guard revealed truth, more intimately penetrate it, and faithfully proclaim and expound it.”
Canon 761: “While pride of place must always be given to preaching and catechetical instruction, all the available means of proclaiming Christian doctrine are to be used, … (including) the printed word and other means of social communication.”
Canon 831: “The Christian faithful are not, unless there is a just and reasonable cause, to write in newspapers, pamphlets or periodicals which clearly are accustomed to attack the Catholic religion or good morals.”
Canon 804: “The formation and education provided … through the means of social communication, is subject to the authority of the Church. It is for the Bishop’s Conference to issue general norms concerning this field of activity and for the Diocesan Bishop to regulate and watch over it.”
There is a Canon that deals with the abuse of the media, under the section of the Code – “Offences against Religion and the Unity of the Church.”
Canon 1369: “A person is to be punished with a just penalty, who, at a public event or assembly, or in a published writing, or by otherwise using the means of social communication, utters blasphemy, or gravely harms public morals, or rails at or excites hatred of or contempt for religion or the Church.”
I am very proud of the work of our diocesan Catholic paper, The Catholic Key, our writers, and all involved with its production for the conscientious manner in which they use the paper to teach Catholic doctrine, to provide trustworthy reflections on issues that take place in our culture, and to provide stories of apostolic life and work – particularly from our local diocese – that inspire us to live our Catholic faith more fully.
Similarly, the apostolate of Catholic Radio has blossomed locally. KEXS, 1090 AM, Catholic radio has helped Catholics to know and live their faith. Catholic radio is enjoyed by non-Catholics and has been the cause of many coming to the Faith and entering the Church.
In a different way, I am sorry to say, my attention has been drawn once again to the National Catholic Reporter, a newspaper with headquarters in this Diocese. I have received letters and other complaints aboutNCR from the beginning of my time here. In the last months I have been deluged with emails and other correspondence from Catholics concerned about the editorial stances of the Reporter: officially condemning Church teaching on the ordination of women, insistent undermining of Church teaching on artificial contraception and sexual morality in general, lionizing dissident theologies while rejecting established Magisterial teaching, and a litany of other issues.
My predecessor bishops have taken different approaches to the challenge. Bishop Charles Helmsing in October of 1968 issued a condemnation of the National Catholic Reporter and asked the publishers to remove the name “Catholic” from their title – to no avail. From my perspective, NCR’s positions against authentic Church teaching and leadership have not changed trajectory in the intervening decades.
When early in my tenure I requested that the paper submit their bona fides as a Catholic media outlet in accord with the expectations of Church law, they declined to participate indicating that they considered themselves an “independent newspaper which commented on ‘things Catholic.’” At other times, correspondence has seemed to reach a dead end.
In light of the number of recent expressions of concern, I have a responsibility as the local bishop to instruct the Faithful about the problematic nature of this media source which bears the name “Catholic.” While I remain open to substantive and respectful discussion with the legitimate representatives of NCR, I find that my ability to influence the National Catholic Reporter toward fidelity to the Church seems limited to the supernatural level. For this we pray: St. Francis DeSales, intercede for us.
Most Rev. Robert W. Finn, “We Must Not
Stop Working . . . To End Abortion.”
This is from Fr. Z – On the The Catholic Key, blog of the newspaper of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph comes this, which will also be in print.
The great Bp. Robert Finn… with Fr. Z’s emphases in bold.
March for Life: Culmination of Many Efforts to Support and Protect Human Life
By Most Rev. Robert W. Finn
Bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph
Most Rev. Robert W. Finn
Throughout the past year the realities of the world around us have caused us to look long and hard at a many issues that endanger the well being of God’s people. In these columns I have shared with you the principles that help to insure the respect for human life and the dignity of the human person.
Here we have reflected on health care, capital punishment, the legitimate human needs of migrants, and the proliferation of nuclear weapons. All of these issues and many more have a “common denominator”: the life and dignity of the human person, given to us irrevocably by God. Man-made law does not, of itself, establish right and wrong. God grants His graces, including the inestimable gift of human life. Law must work to safeguard and protect this life, and to establish norms for the good order of society. If law does not honor the primacy of human life, we as citizens must work to change and improve these structures in a manner that secures man’s most basic protections.
January 22, 2011, marks a particularly destructive moment in our nation’s history: the 38th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decisions: Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, which legalized abortion in almost any circumstance and at any moment in a pregnancy. Almost 60 million surgical abortions have been recorded in the United States since then – the most horrendous taking of human life in history. The numbers of abortions worldwide are certainly greater as other nations have “followed our lead.”
Washington D.C. will again be the site of the “March for Life” which commemorates this sad anniversary. Because of some other important commitments this weekend in our Diocese, this is the first time in quite a few years that I will not be able to go to the March. I am very gratified that four buses of faithful from our diocese will make the trip this year. Bill Francis, Director of our Diocesan Respect Life Office, with the help of our parish coordinators, has organized a pilgrimage which is devotional and educational for the participants. The age-range of those traveling is between 8 and 80 years. I have made the trip more times than I can recall, and the bus ride is long and cramped; the D.C. weather is often snowy. But the crowds in the hundreds of thousands are inspiring. We mustn’t stop working peacefully, prayerfully, and within the legal structures of law to end abortion in our country. It is too monumental a disgrace to neglect or forget.
Critics will sometimes suggest that “Pro-Lifers” only care for people before they are born. The record shows that this is not true. Our own Catholic agencies – and so many of our parishes – care for people at every moment, “from the womb to the tomb.” There is, in fact, no other private institution that does as much to aid people in need than the Catholic Church; Period. As Catholics we also support with our taxes the many governmental interventions that assist people. No one has more soup kitchens and food banks; no private organization provides more counseling, or has more senior housing, or has more adoption centers; None. We train people for worthy employment; we aid released prisoners in getting a new start; we serve the urban core and the furthest rural communities. We look to the legal, physical and spiritual needs of migrants. In our Catholic hospitals we have never stopped caring for the sick and the dying. In our schools we form young people, in faith, for service and authentic leadership. And yes, we are among the most persistent champions of human life from its first moment until natural death.
I know you will join me in prayerfully supporting those who March in Washington this Monday, and all who speak and act, peacefully and prayerfully, in defense of the unborn. No elected official or appointed judge is worthy of our support, if among their many acts of just advocacy they will not support the most vulnerable of our human race.
We commend our efforts to our two most powerful patrons: Mary, Mother of Life and St. Joseph, Protector of the Family. Holy Mary our Hope; St. Joseph: Pray for us!
Bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Robert Finn has reminded the faithful that their salvation is at stake in the battle for holiness. Decrying the “casual manner” in which many Christians live within the “culture of death,” he urged Catholics to “stand up fearlessly against the agents of death.”
“The ultimate goal of everything we do is to get ourselves to heaven and bring with us as many as we can,” he continued, focusing his remarks on the “Church militant,” the Church on earth.
The Church militant’s purpose, the bishop explained, is to “‘fight’ against the enemies of Christ’s justice and truth and light and life.” This fight requires our attentions in a “peaceable but serious manner.”
Lamenting the “casual manner” of some Christians, he said St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians reminds us that we are in a battle “not with flesh and blood, but with the principalities and powers, with the rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in heaven.”
“What is at stake in this battle is our immortal soul, our salvation,” Bishop Finn insisted. “My responsibility as bishop is with the eternal destiny of those entrusted to my care. My total energies must be directed to the well being of those who otherwise may come under the spell of a radically flawed and fundamentally distorted moral sense, at odds with what our Mother the Church teaches.”
“The direct willful destruction of human life can never be justified; it can never be supported. Do you believe this firm teaching of the Church?” he asked.
Bishop Finn noted that priests and ministers in Canada had been brought before government tribunals for preaching and teaching in support of marriage, being charged with “hate speech” against homosexuality.
“In light of the tyranny of choice growing each day in our own beloved country, we ought to be ready for similar attacks on religious freedom,” he warned.
“We must not fail to preach the Gospel. We can not withhold the truth of our faith. That is why I will never be silent about human life,” Bishop Finn insisted.
“What about you?” he asked.
Noting that Christ told the apostles they would be hated by the world, just as He was, the bishop said Christians must never resort to violence but “we must stand up fearlessly against the agents of death, the enemies of human life.”
People can come under Satan’s spell, the bishop warned, describing such people as “willing agents of death, numbed and poisoned in this culture of death.”
“What about you?” he asked again.
He concluded his column with an exhortation, saying “let us call upon the Saints to inspire us, befriend us, and pray for us,” and adding counsel to pray for those in Purgatory.
“And let us resolve to be warriors of the Church militant; warriors with our eyes fixed on heaven,” Bishop Finn closed. “Let us ask God’s mercy and strength to persevere in our call – individual and collective – to holiness. Mary, Mother of the Church, Pray for us!”
Bishop Robert Finn
Edited by Jeffrey David