Apostolic Visitation to Kansas City: Missouri spokesman confirms archbishop visited diocese for interviews

A diocesan spokesman confirmed that a Canadian archbishop conducted an apostolic visitation to the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., to conduct interviews with Bishop Robert W. Finn and others in the diocese.

Jack Smith, director of communications for Missouri diocese, told Catholic News Service in a written statement that the apostolic nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, informed Bishop Finn in advance that Archbishop Terrence Predergast of Ottawa, Ontario, would make the visitation.

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"Bishop Finn was in Kansas City when it occurred," Smith said. "He cooperated with the process and was obligated by the terms of the visitation not to speak of it to anyone, including his senior staff and communications director. The same, presumably, was conveyed to all who were interviewed."

The National Catholic Reporter reported that in late September Archbishop Prendergast interviewed "more than a dozen people" about the leadership of Bishop Finn, who was convicted in September 2012 of one misdemeanor count of failing to report suspected child abuse and acquitted on another count in a brief bench trial.

Several of the people the Ottawa archbishop interviewed spoke anonymously to NCR. They said the archbishop was making the visitation on behalf of the Vatican's Congregation for Bishops and that he asked, "Do you think (Finn) is fit to be a leader?"

Sarah Du Broy, Ottawa archdiocesan communications director, told Canadian Catholic News in an email, "The archbishop considers it a private visit, so we have no comment."

An apostolic visitor is a person, usually a bishop, who is sent by the pope to investigate a particular problem in a local church or religious order. The scope of the visitor's mandate is determined by the letter of appointment, but generally it involves investigating facts, evaluating views and reporting back to the Holy See, possibly with recommendations for a course of action.

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