Member of Vatican sex-abuse panel publicly calls for removal of Bishop Robert Finn
Three months ago, Pope Francis established the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, a review panel to address the problem of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. Among the nine appointees was one layperson: Peter Saunders, who was abused by Jesuit priests in London and who later founded the National Association for People Abused in Childhood. The move was seen as an acknowledgment by the Catholic Church that it needs outside perspective on the issue.
Recently, Pope Francis appointed a bishop in Chile who is alleged to have helped cover up sexual abuse committed by his mentor, also a priest.
The situation in Chile has sparked outrage in the country and abroad at the Catholic Church. Saunders was interviewed about the situation with the Chilean bishop in a recent Guardian article. He said:
“If we don’t see real change, if we don’t see the likes of Bishop Finn removed immediately and this case in Chile being resolved, then the committee will be a pointless exercise,” Saunders told The Guardian.
Saunders’ statement is part of a growing chorus of voices with close ties to the Vatican calling for Finn’s removal. On a 60 Minutes segment last year, Cardinal Sean O’Malley said addressing issues related to Finn was “urgent.”
But in noting Saunders’ words in a release today, Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests (SNAP) also lamented that Rome doesn’t seem to view the Finn situation urgently enough:
There are two travesties here. First, it’s a travesty that Francis has done nothing to discipline or even denounce Finn. Second, it’s a travesty that – in a world with thousands of Catholic bishops – no one in the Catholic hierarchy except Saunders, a lay person, has found the courage to publicly denounce Finn.
Let’s put this as simply and clearly as we can: With lightening speed, Francis ousted a German bishop who mismanaged church money.
But with glacial speed, Francis ignores a bishop who was convicted of endangering children.
Full SNAP release here.