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Bishop Robert Finn:

From his enemies' perspective and his own words

Jane S. Elliot POSTED: 10/21/11

( You learn a lot about a person by what his enemies have to say. The National Catholic Reporter wrote a piece one year after Bishop Finn took over the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese. If you can endure the article's whininess, you discover quite a bit. This is a shepherd who wanted orthodoxy in his diocese. Here's a portion of the Distorter's own rant, which goes by the honest title, "Extreme Makeover: the Diocese":

"Finn, 53, a priest of the St. Louis archdiocese and a member of the conservative Opus Dei movement, was named coadjutor of the Kansas City-St.Joseph diocese in March 2004. The diocese comprises 130,000 Catholics in 27 countries of northwest Missouri. He succeeded Bishop Raymond Boland as ordinary on May 24, 2005. Within a week of his appointment [emphasis mine] he:

  • Dismissed the chancellor, a layman with 21 years of experience in the diocese, and the vice chancellor, a religious woman stationed in the diocese for nearly 40 years and the chief of pastoral planning for the diocese since 1990, and replaced them with a priest chancellor.
  • Cancelled the diocese’s nationally renowned lay formation programs and a master’s degree program in pastoral ministry.
  • Cut in half the budget of the Center for Pastoral Life and Ministry, effectively forcing the almost immediate resignation of half the seven-member team. Within 10 months all seven would be gone and the center shuttered.
  • Ordered a “zero-based study” of adult catechesis in the diocese and appointed as vice chancellor to oversee adult catechesis, lay formation and the catechesis study a layman with no formal training in theology or religious studies.
  • Ordered the editor of the diocesan newspaper to immediately cease publishing columns by Notre Dame theologian Fr. Richard McBrien.
  • Announced that he would review all front page stories, opinion pieces, columns and editorials before publication."

What's the matter with that? Nothing. If you are a true and faithful Catholic, you'd welcome the swiftness of change for the good and consider it an answer to fervent prayer. However, it seems that the good bishop stepped into a pit of very poisonous and biting serpents. Apparently, there are enough NCR-type Catholics in KS-SJ, who want no one, especially orthodox Church hierarchy, telling them they can't do things like: have laity, especially women running parishes or liturgies; contracept; abort; use fetal-line stem cells; promote sodomy, and the like. The Bishop also insisted on final say in the diocesan paper in order to ensure everything in print was in line with Catholic teaching. He brought in Eucharistic Adoration and started a Traditional parish.  And many priests, nuns, and laity there fought him every step of the way.

Goodness! where is their tolerance?

In other words, these "Catholics" want none of the guidance or restrictions placed by the Commandments of God or the Catholic Church. They want an institution made in man's own sinful image and likeness: a Church of Man.

Honestly, after reading NCR's telling article, I have no idea how Bishop Finn has survived this long. I don't know how anyone could withstand what he has without an extraordinary infusion of grace.

Next, let's take a look at Bishop Finn's own words, taken from a speech given in 2009, entitled, aptly, "We are at War."

You won't find any whiny, hand-wringing here. These are the words of a valiant general, calling his soldiers-in-Christ to arms. He recognizes how high the stakes are: nothing less than the battle for immortal souls.

Here's are some admirable excerpts. Some, rather prophetic [underlining is my emphasis]:

We are at war.

"Harsh as this may sound it is true – but it is not new. This war to which I refer did not begin in just the last several months, although new battles are underway – and they bring an intensity and urgency to our efforts that may rival any time in the past.

"But it is correct to acknowledge that you and I are warriors - members of the Church on earth – often called the Church Militant. Those who have gone ahead of us have already completed their earthly battles. Some make up the Church Triumphant – Saints in heaven who surround and support us still – tremendous allies in the battle for our eternal salvation; and the Church Suffering (souls in purgatory who depend on our prayers and meritorious works and suffrages).

"But we are the Church on Earth – The Church Militant. We are engaged in a constant warfare with Satan, with the glamour of evil, and the lure of false truths and empty promises. If we fail to realize how constantly these forces work against us, we are more likely to fall, and even chance forfeiting God’s gift of eternal life.

"As bishop I have a weighty responsibility to tell you this over and over again. This obligation is not always easy, and constantly I am tempted to say and do less, rather than more. Almost everyday I am confronted with the persuasion of other people who want me to be silent. But – with God’s grace – you and I will not be silent.

What can we say about this constant warfare?

"Our battle is ultimately a spiritual battle for the eternal salvation of souls – our own and those of other people. We are not engaged in physical battles in the same way military soldiers defend with material weapons. We need not – we must not – initiate violence against other persons to accomplish something good, even something as significant as the protection of human life.

"But it is true that we might have to endure physical suffering to prosper the victory of Jesus Christ. He carried the Cross. He promised us that – if we were to follow Him – we also would share the Cross. We must not expect anything less. When you stand up for what is right – you will be opposed. The temptation will be to avoid these attacks. But through our responses we must see what kind of soldiers we are.

Who is our enemy in this battle of the Church Militant?

"Our enemy is the deceiver, the liar, Satan. Because of his spiritual powers he can turn the minds and hearts of men. He is our spiritual or supernatural enemy when he works to tempt us, and he becomes a kind of natural enemy as he works in the hearts of other people to twist and confound God’s will. In our human experience people deceived by Satan’s distortions and lies may appear as our “human enemies.”

See this link for the entire talk:

What conclusion can a good soul draw after reading the above? One particular thought comes to mind, right from the Bishop's final line: "In our human experience people deceived by Satan's distortions and lies may appear as our "human enemies."

Please don't misunderstand; what happened with that priest and the children is truly despicable. But let's not go after the wrong person.

Frankly, the more I read, the more I am concerned, and not only for Bishop Finn, but for all of us Catholics. NCR's latest article by John Allen alarms me, not so much because of what he wrote, but because of what is posted in the comments. There is a hatred and call for Catholic blood that is worrisome. See for yourself:

Make no mistake. Children MUST be protected from such unspeakable violation. However, this case is not about "protecting children"; this is about going after the Catholic Church. The posts I've seen in the NCR and the KC Star want the Holy Father to get the same treatment as Bishop Finn. They want both of them, and more of the hierarchy and priests and religious--especially the good ones--to rot in prison...and worse.

If you have any doubt, then perhaps you've not seen the video of the attack on the statue of the Blessed Mother in Rome. The desecration of that image is done with a rage that can only be described as satanic. The fury and evil are palpable and frightening. And I don't hear any cries of "Anti-Catholicism!" Judge for yourself:

One final point. While there are websites and posts that admit that Bishop Finn is a good man, they say he has failed with regard to the Father Ratigan case. Most accusations are critical of Bishop Finn for hiding the photos from the police. This is a serious misconception that continues to be repeated and must be corrected. Read The report. Bishop Finn NEVER saw the photos; he relied on the word of his Vicar General, who DID see them.

I ask you all to pray that the truth of the matter come out swiftly and completely.

St. John Fisher, pray for Bishop Finn.
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