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Pope OKs resignation of US bishop for not reporting abuse

Published:Wednesday | April 22, 2015 | 4:00 AM
Bishop Robert Finn, of Kansas City.

VATICAN CITY, (AP)

Pope Francis yesterday accepted the resignation of a US bishop who pleaded guilty to failing to report a suspected priestly child abuser in the first known case of a pope sanctioning bishops for covering up for paedophiles.

The Vatican said yesterday that Bishop Robert Finn had offered his resignation under the code of canon law that allows bishops to resign early for illness or some "grave" reason that makes them unfit for office. It didn't provide a reason.

Finn, who leads the Diocese of Kansas City-St Joseph in Missouri, waited six months before notifying police about Reverend Shawn Ratigan, whose computer contained hundreds of lewd photos of young girls taken in and around churches where he worked. Ratigan was sentenced to 50 years in prison after pleading guilty to child pornography charges.

Finn pleaded guilty to a misdemeanour charge of failure to report suspected abuse and was sentenced to two years' probation in 2012. Ever since, he has faced pressure from local Roman Catholics to step down, with some parishioners petitioning Francis to remove him from the diocese.

No US bishop has been removed for covering up for guilty clergy.