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Apr 21, 2015 6:54 AM

Pope accepts resignation of US bishop who failed to report

The Associated Press

VATICAN CITY (AP) Pope Francis on Tuesday accepted the resignation of a U.S. bishop who pleaded guilty to failing to report a suspected priestly child abuser in the first known case of a pope cracking down on a bishop who covered up for a pedophile.

The Vatican said Tuesday that Bishop Robert Finn had offered his resignation under the code of canon law that allows bishops to resign early for illness or some "grave" reason that makes them unfit for office. It didn't provide the reason.

Finn, who leads the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph in Missouri, waited six months before notifying police about the Rev. Shawn Ratigan, whose computer contained hundreds of lewd photos of young girls taken in and around churches where he worked. Ratigan was sentenced to 50 years in prison after pleading guilty to child pornography charges.

Finn pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of failure to report suspected abuse and was sentenced to two years' probation in 2012.

He remains the highest-ranking church official in the U.S. to be convicted of failing to take action in response to abuse allegations. The Vatican's failure to sanction or remove him had fueled victims' complaints that bishops were continuing to enjoy protections even under the "zero tolerance" pledge of Francis.

Even Francis' top sex abuse adviser, Cardinal Sean O'Malley, had said publicly that Francis needs to "urgently" address Finn's case.

The Vatican last fall sent a Canadian archbishop to Finn's diocese as part of his an investigation of his leadership. But until Tuesday, there had been no word about what the pope would do.


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