Archbishop Naumann revises assignments made by Finn days before resignation

Kansas City, Mo. — Reversing course on an earlier decision to uphold 23 pastoral assignments made by Bishop Robert Finn days before his resignation, Kansas City, Kan., Archbishop Joseph Naumann has revised 14 of those assignments for the Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., diocese.

News of his decision came Friday morning in an email from Kansas City-St. Joseph spokesman Jack Smith to the diocese’s priests.

“After prayerful deliberation and consultation with his advisors, Archbishop Naumann has decided to modify some of the assignments previously made,” he wrote.

During an April 23 meeting with Naumann, current administrator of the diocese, two days after Finn resigned as head of the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese, priests asked the archbishop to reconsider the appointments. Naumann replied that he had prayed over the decisions and chose to let them stand.

The revised assignments, first announced in the diocesan newspaper April 17, leave four priests at their current parishes. Those retaining their current pastors include Visitation Parish, in Kansas City; St. Thomas More Parish, in Kansas City; Coronation of Our Lady Parish, in Grandview; and St. Andrew the Apostle Parish, in Gladstone.

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Priests in parishes affected by the revisions are to announce the changes during weekend Masses, Smith said, with the other nine assignments remaining unchanged. The changes go into effect June 17.

In a letter to his parishioners, Fr. Pat Rush of Visitation stated he met Wednesday with Naumann, who asked him to delay his retirement until a new bishop arrived and would assign pastors himself. Naumann indicated that he “had received many communications from parishioners, both pro and con, regarding the pastoral appointments made by Bishop Finn, and, in the case of Visitation, he thought the present climate could be an obstacle to the success” of the leadership of Fr. Vince Rogers, named by Finn as the parish's new pastor but who will now remain at St. Andrew the Apostle.

In addition, Fr. Gregory Lockwood, appointed by Finn as diocesan vocation director, will remain administrative director of vocations, with Fr. Richard Rocha to continue to serve as vocation director. Lockwood, administrator of Christ the King Parish, in southern Kansas City, recently drew responses from both Naumann and a local prosecutor after in a letter addressed to his parishioners he questioned the prosecutor’s motives in bringing charges against Finn in October 2011. 

The revisions also tweak the assignments of five of the seven new priests to be ordained May 23 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in downtown Kansas City.

Because of a scheduling conflict between the neighboring Kansas City dioceses, Finn will preside at their ordination. Both he and Naumann consulted with Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and the Vatican's apostolic nuncio to the U.S., Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, respectively, about how to handle the diocese’s same-day ordinations.

Another scheduling conflict initially had Finn also set to celebrate the ordination of a seminarian as a transitional deacon on Saturday at Christ the King, as Naumann had an ordination of a transitional deacon set for the same day in his home archdiocese. However, Smith told NCR the candidate has requested additional time to discern, leaving Naumann available for the Missouri-side ceremony.

[Brian Roewe is an NCR staff writer. Follow him on Twitter: @BrianRoewe.]


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