Pharos-Tribune

Online only

December 5, 2012

Slate's Explainer: A pink slip from the pope

A survey of 40 Catholic priests in the Kansas City, Mo., area indicates that Bishop Robert Finn has lost the support of his priests since he was convicted earlier this year of failing to report child abuse by a priest in his diocese. Many priests and other critics have suggested that Finn resign. If he does not, the only way for him to be removed from office is for the pope to fire him. How common is it for a bishop to be fired?

Quite uncommon. As a rule, the Vatican avoids firing bishops outright, since doing so reflects poorly on the church and implies that it was a mistake for the pope to have appointed the fired bishop in the first place. In cases of conflict between the Vatican and a bishop, the Vatican usually pressures a problematic bishop to resign before resorting to actively dismissing him.

In recent years, the most famous cases of bishops being fired by the Vatican have been cases of liberal bishops who question church doctrine. In 1995, Pope John Paul II fired Jacques Gaillot, the Bishop of Evreux in France, after Gaillot offered to bless gay couples, endorsed condom use and the abortion pill, and expressed support for the ordination of married priests. In a similar case in Australia last year, the bishop of Toowoomba, William Morris, was fired by Pope Benedict XVI five years after writing a letter to his parish suggesting that the church should consider ordaining women and married men. Pope Benedict XVI appears to have a more liberal attitude toward firing than his predecessor; he has also fired three other bishops (in Slovakia, Congo, and Italy) for financial mismanagement.

In cases like Finn's in which a bishop loses public support, the church has a history of not firing him. Cardinal Bernard Francis Law, who covered up extensive sexual abuse of children by priests, resigned as archbishop of Boston in 2002, but the Vatican continued to support him and appointed him archpriest of the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome in 2004.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Online only
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Poll

Does Indiana need a statewide water management plan and an administrator to implement it?

Yes
No
Unsure
     View Results
Featured Ads
AP Video
Japan Landslide Rescuers Struggle in Heavy Rain Raw: Severe Floods, Fire Wrecks Indiana Homes Endangered Red Wolves Face Uncertain Future Raw: Russian Aid Convoy Arrives in Ukraine Hamm Talks Emmy Chances Okla. Policeman Accused of Sex Assaults on Duty Raw: Egypt Bus Crash Kills at Least 33 Two Bodies Found in Adjacent Yards Dominican Republic Bans Miley Cyrus Concert Raw: Israeli Air Strike in Gaza Raw: Rescue Efforts Suspended at Japan Landslide Raw: Bodies of MH17 Victims Arrive in Malaysia Raw: Smaller Marches in Ferguson Attorney: Utah Eatery Had Other Chemical Burn Farm Resurgence Grows With Younger Crowd Microbrewery Chooses Special Can for Its Beer Ky. Firefighters Hurt in Ice Bucket Challenge Federal Investigation Will Look at Use of Force Community Deals With Michael Brown Aftermath US: We Do Not Pay Ransom to Terrorists
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.