(AP) – Pope Francis has appointed a bishop to the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph in Missouri, permanently replacing a cleric who was convicted of failing to report a suspected child abuser.
The diocese announced on its website Tuesday that Bishop James V. Johnston Jr. will take over from Archbishop Joseph Naumann, who has been overseeing the diocese since Bishop Robert Finn resigned in April.
In 2012, Finn was found guilty of one misdemeanor count of failure to report suspected abuse and was sentenced to two years of probation, making him the highest-ranking church official in the U.S. to be convicted of not taking action in response to abuse allegations.
After the convictions, Finn faced pressure to resign, including local and national petition drives asking the pope to remove him. He ultimately left under canon law that allows bishops to resign early for illness or some “grave” reason that makes them unfit for office. He didn’t provide a specific reason for his resignation.
Prosecutors say the diocese didn’t notify police until six months after concerns were raised in 2011 about the Rev. Shawn Ratigan, whose computers were found to contain hundreds of lewd photos of young girls. Ratigan was sentenced to 50 years in federal prison and 21 years in state prison after pleading guilty to child pornography charges.
Finn, who apologized for Ratigan’s abuse and took measures to make the diocese safer for children, urged followers to pray for his successor when he departed.
Johnston will be installed in his new post Nov. 4. He currently leads the Springfield-Cape Girardeau Diocese, also in Missouri.