Robert Finn (bishop)

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His Excellency, The Most Reverend
Robert William Finn
Bishop Emeritus of Kansas City-St. Joseph
Diocese Kansas City-St. Joseph
See Kansas City-St. Joseph
Appointed 9 March 2004 (Coadjutor)
Installed 24 May 2005
Term ended 21 April 2015
Predecessor Raymond James Boland
Successor James Vann Johnston, Jr.
Ordination 7 July 1979
Consecration 3 May 2004
by Raymond Leo Burke
Personal details
Birth name Robert William Finn
Born (1953-04-02) April 2, 1953 (age 63)
St. Louis, Missouri
Nationality American
Denomination Roman Catholic
Motto Latin: "Quaerite primum regnum dei"
English: "Seek ye first the kingdom of God"[1]
Coat of arms
Styles of
Robert W. Finn
Coat of arms of Robert William Finn.svg
Reference style The Most Reverend
Spoken style Your Excellency; Monsignor
Religious style Bishop

Robert William Finn (born April 2, 1953) is a 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 resigned on April 21, 2015. Finn is the only U.S. bishop to be convicted of the misdemeanor crime of failure to report a priest suspected of child sex abuse to government authorities.[2]

Early life and ordination[edit]

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—Mrs. Kathleen Fornwalt, Chesterfield, Missouri; Mrs. Patricia Bax, St. Charles, Missouri; and Mrs. Nancy Meyer, Maryland Heights, Missouri—and one brother, Richard Finn, of Keller, Texas. Bishop Finn completed his elementary education at All Souls Catholic School in Overland, Missouri.

Finn 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.

Bishop Finn Served as Pastor at Our Holy Redeemer Church in Webster Groves, MO prior to being appointed the coadjutor bishop of Kansas City.

Pastoral work[edit]

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 St. 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 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 to have 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. 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.[citation needed]

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]

Criminal conviction for failure to report suspected child abuse[edit]

In 2012, Finn was convicted for failing to report suspected child abuse in connection with the Fr. Shawn Ratigan child pornography case. The diocese waited five months to inform police that inappropriate pictures of children at a diocese school were found on Fr. Ratigan's computer.[4] During that time, the diocese did not inform the community of this discovery and Fr. Ratigan took more inappropriate pictures of children he knew through church contacts.[4]

The indictment charged Finn with failing to inform police about child pornography found on Fr. Shawn Ratigan's computer. According to the indictment, the diocese was made aware of the images on Ratigan's computer on December 16, 2010. However, rather than report it, Finn ordered him to undergo psychiatric evaluation and then sent him to a convent under orders to have no contact with children. Church officials reported, without Finn's approval, Ratigan's actions on May 11, 2011 after learning that he was still taking lewd pictures of children. Ratigan pleaded guilty to five counts of producing child pornography and was sentenced to 50 years in federal prison. All charges against the Diocese itself were dropped, Finn however was convicted on one charge in September 2012 and sentenced to two years of probation.[2][5]

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.[4] [6]While other bishops have been charged with directly perpetrating abuse,[7] Finn is the first U.S. bishop to be criminally charged in his role as a supervisor of priests. The case is also the first criminal case against a sitting bishop in the child sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church.[8]

Apology for lack of intervention[edit]

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 Ratigan's computer, and a week after the priest was arrested on child pornography charges.[9][10]

Independent investigation[edit]

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, a pastor who faces charges of possession of child pornography. 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.[11]

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.[12]

Investigation by Vatican and resignation[edit]

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]


Tridentine Mass[edit]

In August 2005, he 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.[16][17]

Statements on the 2008 election[edit]

In the October 24, 2008 issue of the diocesan newspaper, The Catholic Key, 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."[18]


  1. ^ Google Translate from "Quaerite primum regnum dei" (Latin)
  2. ^ a b 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 November 4, 2008. 
  4. ^ a b c Sulzberger, A. G.; Goodstein, Laurie (October 14, 2011). "Kansas City Bishop Charged With Failure to Report Abuse". The New York Times. 
  5. ^ Aegeter, Macradee; Quinn, Kathy. Father Shawn Ratigan sentenced to 50 years in federal prison. WDAF-TV, 2013-09-12.
  6. ^ Kort, Michelle (October 14, 2011). "Bishop Charged With Sheltering Abusive Priest". Retrieved 2016-07-05. 
  7. ^ Zezima, Katie (September 28, 2004). "Bishop Is Indicted in Sex Abuse Case but Won't Be Prosecuted". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-03-08. 
  8. ^ McElwee, Joshua J., "Judge orders Kansas City bishop to stand trial in abuse case", National Catholic Reporter, April 5, 2012.
  9. ^ Kansas City Star: "Bishop again says he regrets response to priest in child porn case" May 27, 2011
  10. ^ The Catholic Key: "Diocese faulted for handling of accused priest" June 8, 2011
  11. ^ "Bishop Finn appoints former US attorney to conduct independent review". Catholic News Service. June 13, 2011. 
  12. ^ Belkin, Douglas (2011-10-15). "Missouri Bishop is Charged". Wall Street Journal. 
  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 April 21, 2015. 
  16. ^ National Catholic Reporter: "An Affinity for Indulgences and Latin" May 12, 2006
  17. ^ National Catholic Reporter: "Extreme makeover: the diocese" May 12, 2006
  18. ^ Commonweal Magazine October 29, 2008

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Raymond James Boland
Bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph
2005 – 2015

Template:S-James Vann Johnston Jr.