Robert Finn (bishop)
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Robert Finn Bishop

Robert William Finn
Bishop Emeritus of Kansas City-St. Joseph
ArchdioceseSt. Louis
DioceseKansas City-St. Joseph
AppointedMarch 9, 2004 (Coadjutor)
InstalledMay 24, 2005
Term endedApril 21, 2015
PredecessorRaymond James Boland
SuccessorJames Vann Johnston, Jr.
OrdinationJuly 7, 1979
ConsecrationMay 3, 2004
by Raymond Leo Burke, Raymond James Boland, and Joseph Fred Naumann
Personal details
Birth nameRobert William Finn
Born (1953-04-02) April 2, 1953 (age 66)
St. Louis, Missouri
DenominationRoman Catholic
MottoLatin: "Quaerite primum regnum dei"
English: "Seek ye first the kingdom of God"[1]
Styles of
Robert William Finn
Coat of arms of Robert William Finn.svg
Reference style
Spoken styleYour Excellency
Religious styleBishop

Robert William Finn (born April 2, 1953) is an American bishop of the Roman Catholic Church. He was formerly bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-Saint Joseph, where he served from May 24, 2005, until he was compelled to resign on April 21, 2015. Finn is the only U.S. bishop to be convicted of the crime of failure to report a priest suspected of child sex abuse to government authorities.[2]

Early life and ordination

Finn was born in St. Louis, Missouri, on April 2, 1953, the second of five children of Theodore (Pat) and Betty Schneider Finn. His family includes three sisters-- Kathleen Fornwalt, Chesterfield, Missouri; Patricia Bax, St. Charles, Missouri; and Nancy Meyer, Maryland Heights, Missouri--and one brother, Richard Finn, of Keller, Texas.

Finn completed his elementary education at All Souls Catholic School in Overland, Missouri. He studied for the priesthood at archdiocesan seminaries and in Rome. He is a 1971 graduate of St. Louis Preparatory Seminary North, and received a B.A. in Philosophy at Cardinal Glennon College in 1975. While a seminarian at the Pontifical North American College in Rome, he earned a Master's in Theology in 1979 from the Angelicum University. He served as a deacon in 1978-79 at Saint Charles Borromeo Parish, in the Archdiocese of Westminster. He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Saint Louis at All Souls Parish Church on July 7, 1979.

Finn Served as pastor of Our Holy Redeemer Church in Webster Groves, Missouri, prior to being appointed the coadjutor bishop of Kansas City.

Pastoral work

Finn's first assignments were as associate pastor of two parishes in the Archdiocese of Saint Louis. He later was appointed to the faculty of Saint Francis Borgia Regional High School in Washington, Missouri, where he taught from 1983 to 1989. During those years, he lived in residence and served as part-time pastoral associate in area parishes.

In 1989, Finn received a Master's in Education Administration from Saint Louis University and was appointed administrator of St. Dominic High School in O'Fallon, Missouri. During his tenure at St. Dominic's, he assisted the pastors of area parishes. He served the St. Dominic High School community until 1996.

In 1996, he was appointed Director of Continuing Formation of Priests and, in 1999, while continuing as CFP Director, he was named editor of the St. Louis Review, the weekly newspaper of the Archdiocese of Saint Louis.

Finn was named by Pope John Paul II a chaplain to His Holiness in August 2003, upon the recommendation of the Archbishop of St. Louis, Justin Francis Rigali, who had named him to the posts he was then exercising (the honor was bestowed while he was still serving as CFP Director and editor of the St. Louis Review; Finn received the title of Reverend Monsignor). Finn served in several other capacities including chairman of the Archdiocesan Committee on the Diaconate.


Finn was named coadjutor bishop (with right of succession) of the diocese of Kansas City-Saint Joseph and was consecrated on May 3, 2004, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Kansas City. He is also now a Fourth Degree member of the Knights of Columbus. On May 24, 2005, the Vatican accepted Bishop Boland's request for retirement. As Coadjutor, Bishop Finn automatically succeeded him as sixth bishop of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.

Finn became a member of the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross, which is linked to the Catholic personal prelature Opus Dei. In an interview with the Catholic Key, Finn told of how Opus Dei had helped open his heart to the work of the Holy Spirit.

Upon his arrival in the diocese of Kansas City-Saint Joseph in 2005, Finn said that vocations to the priesthood and religious life would be seen as a 'super-priority' for his diocese. Under his guidance, the diocese continued to pour considerable spiritual, human, and financial resources into efforts to encourage vocations. Before Finn's arrival, in the 2003/2004 seminary school year, the diocese reported having nine seminarians. For 2007/2008, the diocese reported that there were 24 men studying for diocesan priesthood. In March 2006, Finn invited to his diocese a small order of Benedictine nuns, now titled Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles. The entire order moved from its place of founding, Scranton, PA. With a contemplative charism of praying and sacrificing for the sanctification of priests, in addition to operating a vestment design company called "House of Ephesus", these nuns saw their numbers rise quickly in recent years.[]

As of December 2011, Finn served on the Administrative and the Priorities and Plans Committees for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and had been chairman of the Bishop's "Task Force on the Life and Dignity of the Human Person".[3]

Apology for lack of intervention

In May 2011, Finn apologized for his failure to act in a more timely manner in the case of a priest accused of engaging in inappropriate behavior with children. Finn told reporters that he failed to read a letter sent to the diocese a year earlier (May 2010) by a Catholic elementary school principal who was reporting numerous instances of inappropriate behavior. Finn's admission came five months after the diocese discovered questionable pictures of children on the Reverend Shawn Francis Ratigan's computer, and a week after the priest was arrested on child pornography charges.[4][5]

Independent investigation

On June 9, 2011, Finn appointed former U.S. Attorney Todd P. Graves to conduct an independent investigation of diocesan policies and procedures used to address sexual misconduct by church personnel including the case of Shawn Ratigan. Graves was the national co-chairman of the U.S. Justice Department's Child Exploitation Working Group. Finn also announced the appointment of an independent public liaison and ombudsman.[6]

In the report issued in September 2011, Graves said the key finding of the investigation was "that Diocesan leaders failed to follow their own policies and procedures for responding to reports" of sexual abuse by clergy.[7]

Criminal conviction for failure to report suspected child abuse

The Kansas City diocese waited five months to inform police that inappropriate pictures of children at a diocesan school were found on the Reverend Shawn Francis Ratigan's computer.[8] During that time, the diocese did not inform the community of this discovery and Ratigan took more inappropriate pictures of children he knew through church contacts.[8]

The indictment charged Finn with failing to inform police about child pornography found on Ratigan's computer. According to the indictment, the diocese was made aware of those images on December 16, 2010. Rather than reporting it, Finn ordered Ratigan to undergo psychiatric evaluation, then sent him to a convent under orders to have no contact with children. Without Finn's approval to do so, church officials reported Ratigan's actions on May 11, 2011 after learning that he had continued to take lewd pictures of children. Ratigan eventually pleaded guilty to five counts of producing child pornography and was sentenced to 50 years in federal prison.[2][9]

On October 14, 2011, a county grand jury indicted both the Diocese and Finn personally for failure to report suspected child abuse, a criminal misdemeanor.[8][10] While other bishops had been charged with directly perpetrating abuse,[11] Finn was the first U.S. bishop to be charged in his role as a supervisor of priests, the first criminal case against a sitting bishop in the child sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church. Finn was convicted on one charge in September 2012 and sentenced to two years of probation.[2] All charges against the Diocese itself were dropped.[12]

Investigation by Vatican and resignation

In September 2014, the Vatican initiated an investigation into Finn's tenure as bishop, conducted by Canadian archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa at the request of Pope Francis. The director of SNAP called the investigation "overdue".[13]

Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley, the leader of a church commission on child abuse cases, made critical remarks regarding Bishop Finn's actions. In an interview with the television news program 60 Minutes, O'Malley said that Bishop Finn's conviction for failing to report suspected child abuse would disqualify him from teaching Sunday school in the Boston archdiocese. "It's a question that the Holy See needs to address urgently," O'Malley said.[14]

The Vatican announced that Finn had resigned from the Diocese of Kansas City on April 21, 2015.[15]

Subsequent activities

In 2016, Finn became chaplain of the School Sisters of Christ the King Convent in Lincoln, Nebraska. He offers Mass, hears confessions, and serves as a spiritual advisor for over 30 nuns.[16] He has remained in this role as of July 2018, despite making occasional public appearances.[17]


Tridentine Mass

In August 2005, Finn encouraged use of the Tridentine Mass in his diocese in accord with indult provisions established during Pope John Paul II's tenure, and welcomed the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest to the diocese to celebrate Mass at St. Patrick's Oratory, the city's oldest church.[18][19]

Statement on the 2008 presidential election

In a pastoral letter published in the October 24, 2008, issue of the diocesan newspaper, The Catholic Key, referencing the upcoming presidential election, Finn wrote: "Our Catholic moral principles teach that a candidate's promise of economic prosperity is insufficient to justify their constant support of abortion laws, including partial-birth abortion, and infanticide for born-alive infants. Promotion of the Freedom of Choice Act is a pledge to eliminate every single limit on abortions achieved over the last thirty-five years. The real freedom that is ours in Jesus Christ compels us, not to take life, but to defend it."[20]

See also


  1. ^ Google Translate from "Quaerite primum regnum dei" (Latin)
  2. ^ a b c Eligon, John, and Laurie Goodstein, "Kansas City Bishop Convicted of Shielding Pedophile ", New York Times, 7 September 2012
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on October 13, 2008. Retrieved 2008.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ Kansas City Star: "Bishop again says he regrets response to priest in child porn case" May 27, 2011
  5. ^ The Catholic Key: "Diocese faulted for handling of accused priest" June 8, 2011
  6. ^ "Bishop Finn appoints former US attorney to conduct independent review". Catholic News Service. June 13, 2011. Archived from the original on 19 January 2013.
  7. ^ Belkin, Douglas (2011-10-15). "Missouri Bishop is Charged". Wall Street Journal.
  8. ^ a b c Sulzberger, A. G.; Goodstein, Laurie (October 14, 2011). "Kansas City Bishop Charged With Failure to Report Abuse". The New York Times.
  9. ^ Aegeter, Macradee; Quinn, Kathy. Father Shawn Ratigan sentenced to 50 years in federal prison. WDAF-TV, 2013-09-12.
  10. ^ Kort, Michelle (October 14, 2011). "Bishop Charged With Sheltering Abusive Priest". Retrieved .
  11. ^ Zezima, Katie (September 28, 2004). "Bishop Is Indicted in Sex Abuse Case but Won't Be Prosecuted". The New York Times. Retrieved .
  12. ^ McElwee, Joshua J., "Judge orders Kansas City bishop to stand trial in abuse case", National Catholic Reporter, April 5, 2012.
  13. ^ Paulson, Michael, "Vatican Investigates Missouri Bishop Who Shielded Pedophile Priest", New York Times, September 29, 2014. Retrieved 2014-09-30.
  14. ^ "Cardinal O'Malley: Vatican must address Kansas City bishop", AP via, November 15, 2014. Citation details retrieved 2015-04-25.
  15. ^ McElwee, Joshua J.; Roewe, Brian; Coday, Dennis (April 21, 2015). "US Bishop Finn, symbol of church's failure on sexual abuse, resigns". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 2015.
  16. ^ Anderson, Erin (January 15, 2016). "Embattled K.C. bishop starts anew in Lincoln convent". Lincoln Journal Star. Retrieved 2018.
  17. ^ Flynn, JD (July 23, 2018). "McCarrick, the bishops, and unanswered questions". Catholic News Agency. Retrieved 2018.
  18. ^ National Catholic Reporter: "An Affinity for Indulgences and Latin" May 12, 2006
  19. ^ National Catholic Reporter: "Extreme makeover: the diocese" May 12, 2006
  20. ^ Bishop Finn Asks Parishes to Pray for Life, Catholic Key blog, Bishop Robert Finn, October 21, 2008. Retrieved November 2, 2017.

External links

Episcopal succession

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