KANSAS CITY, Missouri - As waves of controversy continue to plague the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph, one group of Catholics is remaining strong in support of Bishop Robert Finn. About a hundred people gathered outside the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception Sunday morning to make their message public.
Children and adults alike held signs that say "We Support Bishop Finn" and "We love our Priests."
Finn was inside at the time serving the Pentecost mass. He invited all Catholics in the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph to join him for the special feast day with the hope of creating unity.
There has been division in the church since mid-May when Father Shawn Ratigan was arrested on charges of child pornography. The priest had been serving the St. Patrick's Parish until December of 2010 when questionable pictures were found on his church computer. The very next day, Ratigan attempted to commit suicide. Finn reassigned Ratigan to service in a convent, away from children. Six months later, a police investigation uncovered even more alleged questionable photos.
Less than two weeks later, another priest, Father Michael Tierney, was removed from Christ the King Catholic Church in the Waldo area. He has been accused of sexual misconduct with minors. A lawsuit was filed against Tierney and the Diocese in September 21. John Doe B.P. claims Tierney tackled and groped him sometime in the early 1970's.
Bishop Finn has been highly criticized for the timeliness of how he responded to both situations.
On Sunday, however, the tone was peaceful and supportive. Many in the group believe Finn is doing the best he can right now. They also see him resigning as a step in the wrong direction for the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph.
Nathan Lewis helped organize the prayer vigil in support of Finn. He said, "I think there's a lot of people who didn't like the bishop before and this is kind of opportunity for them to vent some frustration and get some things off their chest."
Lewis continued, "We know the bishop, we love the bishop, we've seen what he's done in the diocese and the good that he's done."
Cheryl Cuccar explained there's always been division in the Catholic church, "This isn't anything new. Division in the church has been going on for centuries. We've gone through it before. We've survived it." She believes the best way to survive this controversy and move forward is to pray.
That's exactly what the group of supporters did Sunday morning outside of the Cathedral. They were seen praying the rosary, the Lord's Prayer and to the Virgin Mary.
Lewis said, "I think that supporting the bishop is going to make the diocese stronger and not worse off."