Amidst criminal charges, KC diocese appoints chief of staff

by Joshua J. McElwee

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- In what may be a sign the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese is trying to address concerns it will have a difficult time managing its ministerial duties as Bishop Robert Finn and the diocese fight separate criminal charges, the diocese announced today the appointment of a new chief of staff.

Jude Huntz, currently the director of the diocesan human rights office, will assume the newly-created role Nov. 1.

He takes on the position as Finn and the diocese are planning separate defenses against criminal charges, announced Oct. 14 by a county prosecutor, that allege that their handling of a diocesan priest suspected of child pornography amounted to failure to report suspected sex abuse. The charges are the first of their kind in the twenty-five year clergy sex abuse scandal.

For more on the indictments, see: After indictment, KC Catholics wonder what's next.

Announcement of today's appointment came in an e-mail memorandum from Finn, which was obtained by NCR.

In the memo, Finn writes that Huntz will have responsibility for "overseeing and coordinating" inter-departmental operations at the diocesan chancery.

"To ensure that we realize the full potential of our mission and ministries, Jude will be invaluable in helping me select, prioritize, implement and evaluate key initiatives of the Diocese," writes Finn.

"I will be relying upon him to function as an ambassador within our Chancery and to the community."

Huntz, the email states, will also continue in his role at the human rights office. In his new role he will report directly to Finn.

Calls to Huntz and the diocesan spokesperson for comment were not immediately returned this morning.

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