Outgoing pope's legacy debated by Kansas City area experts

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Pope Benedict XVI's legacy is the subject of much debate.

Dennis Coday, managing editor of the National Catholic Reporter, has covered Benedict since he first became pope in 2005.

Coday said the high point of the pope's career was his push to encourage faith.

"He declared this the year of faith and wanted to increase Christianity in society," Coday explained.

But Coday said he was disappointed the pope wasn't more transparent about priests accused of sex crimes. Many of those priests were often reassigned to other churches to avoid prosecution and embarrassment for the church.

"The Pope apologized, but he could have done more," he added.

Jeff Weis is a Kansas City, Mo., resident and member of the St. Peter's Parish. He's hoping the pope's resignation will convince Bishop Robert Finn to stop down.

"It shows that if the pope stepped down, other church leaders can do the same," Weis explained.

Finn was convicted of a misdemeanor for failing to report suspected child abuse. Prosecutors alleged Finn knew that Father Shawn Ratigan was taking pornographic pictures of children and did not report it to police.

Weis said it will be hard for the Catholic community in the greater Kansas City area to find peace until Finn steps down.

Weis's online petition to remove Bishop Finn has more than 150,000 signatures. To find out more about the petition drive, visit http://chn.ge/TAa7e2

Finn said he was "surprised and saddened" by Benedict's decision in a statement Monday.

"He has been a wonderful Holy Father: Brilliant, joyful and holy. His whole ministry as a professor, priest, bishop, cardinal and pope has had historic and lasting implications," Finn said. "I ask all people of good will, especially our Catholic community, to pray for Pope Benedict and for the Church. We should begin even now to pray for the next pope."

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