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Archbishop Terrence Prendergast was sent by the Vatican to investigate a U.S. bishop. Catholic Register file photo.

Ottawa archbishop investigates U.S. bishop

  • October 1, 2014

OTTAWA - Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast was sent by the Vatican to investigate the bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph, according to published reports. 

A report in the National Catholic Reporter (NCR) said that Prendergast interviewed several people in the Missouri diocese regarding the leadership of Bishop Robert Finn. Finn had previously been found criminally guilty of shielding a priest in a case involving child pornography. 

The Ottawa archdiocese said Prendergast would have no comment on the matter. 

“The archbishop considers it a private visit, so we have no comment,” said Ottawa archdiocesan communications director Sarah Du Broy in an email. 

NCR reported Prendergast interviewed “more than a dozen people” about the leadership of Finn. In 2012 Finn was found guilty of a misdemeanour for failing to report former priest Shawn Ratigan, who pleaded guilty to child pornography charges earlier that year. 

Several of the people the Ottawa archbishop interviewed spoke anonymously to the newspaper, possibly violating the confidential nature of the inquiry. They said the archbishop was making the visitation on behalf of the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops and that he asked, “Do you think [Finn] is fit to be a leader?” 

NCR quotes the diocese’s former chancellor Jude Huntz as saying he had advised several area Catholics to complain to the Apostolic Nuncio about Finn. 

“I hope that there is a leadership change in the diocese of Kansas City St-Joseph,” Huntz told NCR. 

Prendergast is an experienced Visitator, having previously been among those North American bishops, including Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins, now a cardinal, and Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley, who made visitations to Irish dioceses in 2010 following the Irish sexual abuse crisis. 

Pope Benedict XVI appointed Finn to Kansas City in 2005. He has not had a good relationship with the NCR, which is based in his diocese. In 2013, the bishop challenged the use of the word “Catholic” in the newspaper’s name in an article in the diocese’s newspaper, the Catholic Key, 

Finn wrote he had been “deluged” with correspondence raising concerns about NCR editorial stances “officially condemning Church teaching on the ordination of women, insistent undermining of Church teaching on artificial contraception and sexual morality in general, lionizing dissident theologies while rejecting established Magisterial teaching, and a litany of other issues.” 

Finn has retained the support of widely read priest-blogger Fr. John Zuhsdorf, who recently reported how popular the bishop is with young priests and seminarians and has consistently supported the bishop as orthodox Catholic. The Catholic League has also publicly supported Finn. 

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