KANSAS CITY, Missouri - For the first time in more than 20 years, two sitting Catholic priests have been removed from the Kansas City – St. Joseph Diocese. Father Michael Tierney is accused of sex abuse against minors and Father Shawn Ratigan faces charges of possessing child pornography.
Friday night, more than 300 people packed St. Thomas More Parish to tell Bishop Robert Finn how they were feeling.
For Patricia Binder who has been a Catholic for 77 years, she said she is fed up.
“It has been tough for me because I used to believe everything I was taught through the Catholic school and Catholic church and I can't say I believe that anymore," said Binder.
So she wrote a letter to the diocese.
"I told him I was no longer considering myself a Catholic. I can’t support how this is been handled. That's the only way I know how to protest," said Binder.
We were told the first person who spoke at the meeting asked that Bishop Finn step down and he got a standing ovation.
You could only see the bishop through the glass doors because it was a closed meeting, but hundreds packed inside the church.
Moms like Cindy Hafenstine who have children who go to St. Thomas More said they are worried about kids.
“They know what's going on and it had counseling at the school and are aware of the situation,“ said Hafenstine.
She said she believes in her priest and has no doubt about his leadership, but the other allegations make her sick.
Ratigan served at St. Thomas More in the 90s before he moved to St. Joseph. Friday night as people left the two hour meeting, they said they are just sad and want to see some action.
The bishop posted the following message to everyone in the diocese on his blog Friday.
"These past few weeks all of us have endured the consequences of our human failure. The destructive sins of a few and the serious lapses in communication have caused us shame, anger, and confusion.
There are victims that are hurting, and others who have been left vulnerable by our processes. As you know, in the past two weeks one priest was arrested and we removed another from ministry. They are the first sitting pastors to be removed in our Diocese in more than 20 years.
These are sobering realities, particularly for those who knew and trusted them. We are assessing what went wrong and applying our analysis as we move forward. This past week, I met with our Independent Review Board chairman and discussed the objectivity of our decision processes. I have also met with parishioners, our priests and Chancery staff, as well as the media. These meetings and discussions will continue.
As bishop, I take full responsibility for these failures and sincerely apologize to you for them. Clearly, we have to do more. Please know that we have --- and will continue to cooperate with all local authorities regarding these matters.
While we must deal with these difficult and trying issues we also must give thanks for the daily accomplishments of our lay faithful, priests and others for the many good works that continue on behalf of neighbors, sick or poor, young or old.
You generously responded to the need of people devastated by recent storms. Our food pantries and advocacy for the disadvantaged are second to none in our community.
These difficult days have also been marked with celebrations of our faith: First Communions and Confirmations, school graduations, weddings, anniversaries and Ordinations and other ceremonies. These blessings are noticed and counted, not lost.
On Pentecost Sunday, June 12, I will offer the 9:00 a.m. Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Please join me. At the same time I ask our pastors to offer the Pentecost Mass in your parishes – for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon this local Church, that God may give us whatever gifts and graces we need to carry forward His commission."
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