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Pope: 4 bishops investigated for child sex abuse scandals

Pope Francis speaking to reporters about bishops under investigation for child sex abuse scandals (AP) Pope Francis speaking to reporters about bishops under investigation for child sex abuse scandals (AP)
Kansas City bishop Robert Finn Kansas City bishop Robert Finn

Pope Francis said this week that a bishop has been found guilty for his role in child sex abuse scandals that have haunted the Catholic Church, and three bishops are under investigation.

Francis did not say whether the bishops are accused of committing abuse or covering it up. He also did not say whether any of the priests are in the United States.

Kansas City Bishop Robert Finn was found guilty of failing to report to state authorities a priest who took pornographic pictures of little girls. Finn apologized in 2012 and was placed on two years probation for the misdemeanor conviction.

"The diocese does not have any indication of an investigation related to Bishop Finn," Jack Smith, spokesman for the diocese, said in an email to KCTV5.

A group that is outspoken on behalf of those abused by priests said the Vatican should investigate Finn.

"We believe and hope one of them is Bishop Robert Finn," according to a statement from Barbara Dorris of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. "We in SNAP don't know of another bishop who has been convicted of endangering kids who is still on the job, so we are fairly confident Francis is talking about Finn."

The group said Finn should be fired or demoted for his role of covering up wrongdoing by priest Shawn Ratigan who was sentenced to 50 years in prison for taking the pornographic children of parishioners.

Ratigan was able to have contact with children even after diocese officials knew of a flash drive from his computer contained hundreds of images of children, most of them clothed, with the focus on their crotch areas.

After his conviction, the Vatican defrocked Ratigan.

During an interview with reporters while traveling from the Holy Land back to Rome, Francis said there would be "zero tolerance even with bishops" when it comes to child abuse.

"At the moment, there are three bishops under investigation. One has already been convicted and the punishment needs to be decided," Francis said. "There will be no preferential treatment when it comes to child abuse."

He said child abuse involving the clergy "is a very serious problem," and he plans to meet with some U.S. abuse victims at the Vatican.

"In Argentina, we call those who receive preferential treatment 'spoilt children.' There will be no 'spoilt children' in this case. It is a very serious problem. When a priest commits abuse, he betrays the Lord's body. A priest must guide children toward sainthood. And the child trusts him. But instead, he abuses him or her. This is very serious. It's like celebrating a black mass, instead of steering him or her towards the sainthood you create a problem that will stay with him or her for all of his or her life."

Dorris scoffed at the comments from Francis.

"For decades, Catholic officials have excelled at saying the right things about abuse and cover up. They make grand speeches about how they are going to tackle the ongoing crisis. And time and time again, they refuse to take real action to stop those who are committing or concealing child sex crimes," Dorris said. "This must end if kids are to become safer in the church."

SNAP said they are unaware of any bishop ever being disciplined, including Finn.

"We're convinced that this is why the cover ups continue because of those who enable this horror by stonewalling prosecutors, stiff-arming police, shredding documents and transferring predators are promoted, not punished, in the church," Dorris said.

Francis has failed to do anything since becoming pope more than a year ago to make any real changes to protect children, the SNAP statement said.

"Almost two years ago, Bishop Finn was criminally convicted in a court of law for not reporting suspected child abuse sex crimes, but he remains on the job today with as much power as before. Not one of the world's 4,000 Catholic bishops and not even one of the Vatican's hundreds of staffers have denounced Finn. Neither of the last two popes have done or said anything to hold Finn responsible for his egregious and deliberate wrongdoing," Dorris said. "For the sake of innocent kids, we hope Francis will demote or defrock Finn so that kids will be protected and so that bishops won't keep concealing crimes."

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