April 21, 2015

Not good news, exactly, but encouraging:

The Vatican on Tuesday accepted the resignation of a Missouri bishop who failed to report suspected child abuse and who became the highest-ranking American church official found guilty of a crime related to the church’s child sexual abuse scandal.

The Vatican said that Bishop Robert W. Finn, who leads the Roman Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph in northern and western Missouri, had offered his resignation under a provision in canon law that allowed bishops to resign early for an illness or if they are unfit to carry out their duties.

Bishop Finn was found guilty in September 2012 of waiting six months before notifying the police about a diocesan priest, the Rev. Shawn Ratigan, who had taken hundreds of pornographic pictures of young girls in and around churches where he worked. Father Ratigan was sentenced to 50 years in prison after pleading guilty to child pornography charges.

The bishop’s conviction was considered a watershed moment in the sexual abuse scandal that has tarnished the church since the 1980s. Bishops have been eager to turn the page on this era and have put in place extensive abuse prevention policies, which include reporting those suspected of abuse to law enforcement authorities.

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