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Pope accepts American bishop's resignation following child porn row

An American bishop has resigned after he failed to report a priest who was found in possession of child pornography. However, child abuse victims see the Vatican's lack of action as too little, too late.

Pope Francis on Tuesday accepted the resignation of an American bishop convicted of failing to report a priest who in 2012 was found possession of child pornography.

Bishop Robert Finn, who led the diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph in Missouri, waited six months before reporting Shawn Ratigan, a former priest under Finn's authority, to the police. Ratigan was sentenced to 50 years in prison after pleading guilty to child pornography charges while Finn received two years of probation.

Finn was the subject of an investigation launched by the Vatican in September as part of

Francis' crackdown on child abuse and pedophilia

in the Roman Catholic Church.

A statement from the Vatican noted that the bishop resigned under the code of canon which allows bishops to resign early due to "grave" circumstances or illness. However, a reason was not provided for the resignation. Once appointed, bishops generally hold their office for life.

'Zero tolerance' policy?

Meanwhile, victims of child abuse in the church criticized the Vatican's failure to remove Finn from office prior to his resignation, a lack of action that cast doubts on the pope's "zero tolerance" policy.

In lieu of the Vatican's inaction, more than half a million people signed an online petition demanding Finn's removal from office. Abuse victims also called on the Vatican to hold bishops suspected of hiding abuse accountable along with perpetrators. The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child

slammed the Vatican's child abuse record

in a 2014 report, saying they were "gravely concerned."

Cardinal Sean O'Malley, one of the pope's top advisers on sexual abuse, also decried Finn's case, publically calling on Francis to "urgently" address the situation. The Vatican sent a Canadian archbishop to investigate Finn's diocese last fall, however, the pope did not issue a statement on the case until Tuesday.

ls/rc (AP, Reuters)

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