Catholic Church

St. Teresa's Academy is still going strong, 150 years after the school's founding on Quality Hill. Though a lot has changed since then, the staff's belief in the benefits of single-gender learning has not. 


While Mother Teresa certainly had her critics, she did spread a lot of hope to a lot of people. Her expedited canonization highlights the role saints play in the modern Catholic Church, and a process that's happening with unprecedented frequency.


Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Around a year ago, Bishop James Johnston came to Kansas City to lead the Catholics of northwest Missouri at a challenging time. He came in with an agenda not of his choosing: to clean up the mess of the sexual abuse scandal that engulfed his predecessor. But he also has hopes and priorities of his own.

Bishop Johnston spoke with guest host Brian Ellison on KCUR’s Central Standard about what his job entails, and about his journey from electrical engineer to getting the call from the Vatican to come to Kansas City.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Bishop James Johnston came to town to lead KC's Catholics at a challenging time — and he started with an apology on behalf of the church. We check in on what's being done to address the sexual abuse scandal that engulfed his predecessor, and we'll hear his journey from electrical engineering to shepherding a flock of some 130,000 Catholic faithful here.


Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

Black Bob Elementary is one of Olathe’s flagship schools. It’s in the middle of the city, surrounded by neighborhoods, and just a few blocks away, there's a big shopping center with  a Starbucks and Walgreens.

But it didn’t always look that way. Dr. Alison Banikowski, deputy superintendent of Olathe Schools, remembers what the city looked like when she first arrived in 1982. 

“I served for the first year I was here with Blackbob Elementary, and it was really literally out in a field,”

Hannah Copeland / KCUR 89.3

About 100 priests and 200 parishioners filed into the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Kansas City, Missouri, Sunday afternoon in search of closure and the chance to publicly grieve. The priests draped purple sashes over their white robes to symbolize the theme of the service: lament. 

Rebecca Smith / KBIA

During Pope Francis’ visit to the U.S. last month, he praised the late Thomas Merton as one of four great Americans. Merton was one of the most influential Catholic writers of the 20th century. He spent the last twenty years of his life as a Trappist Monk in a monastery called the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky.

After his death, his writings remained in the public sphere, but it seemed that little else was left from the man who inspired so many. But this summer, hundreds of his items reappeared in Missouri.

WATCH: Pope Francis' Speech To The United Nations

Sep 24, 2015
Catholic Church England / Flickr--CC

Pope Francis is expected to address the United Nations at 9 a.m. Friday.

Alex Smith / KCUR

For many Catholics, Pope Francis' visit to the United States provides a thrilling chance to see the church’s highest leader in the flesh. 

But in Kansas City, Kansas, the Strawberry Hill Museum and Cultural Center still celebrates and remembers a previous pope’s trip to the United States — specifically how he rested during the trip.

On display is the former air travel bed of Pope John Paul II, which is now classified as a relic.

Caroline Kull / KCUR

A final Kansas City Council decision regarding a proposed Catholic student housing project located at 53rd and Troost Avenue was expected last week.

But instead, the council deferred the decision, suggesting the groups work more to resolve the conflict through mediation.

The proposed 237-bedroom dorm pits members of the surrounding neighborhoods and St. Francis Xavier Parish against the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. The building would be built just next to the church on the site of a former elementary school that is now vacant, which is owned by the diocese. 

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

By midday Tuesday, there were still many among the flock of Catholics in Kansas City who didn’t yet know that Pope Francis had accepted the resignation of their Bishop — Robert William Finn.

Finn has been at the center of controversy for years. He became the highest ranking official of the church to be convicted of a crime when he was found guilty of failing to report allegations of child abuse in 2012.

Kansas City-area Catholics reacting to the news revealed a wide range of opinions.

The Catholic Church is located in Vatican City, an ocean away and then some. But what happens in Rome affects the lives of Catholics living in Kansas City, and what happens here reverberates all the way up to the top. This conversation explores whether a perceived shift in the Catholic Church affects the priorities and attitudes of Catholics in our region. 


Catholic Priest Sentenced To 50 Years For Child Pornography

Sep 12, 2013

Shawn Ratigan, a 47-year-old Catholic priest convicted of making child pornography, was sentenced to 50 years by a Kansas City federal judge Thursday afternoon. 

Judge Gary Fenner labeled Ratigan a pedophile in serial fashion.

Minutes before, Ratigan choked back emotion as he told the judge, "Fifteen years is a lot of time, but fifty, come on."

Parents of the two-year-old girl photographed by Ratigan said they never want their child to see him again. The mother of the child said her daughter considered the priest her "best friend."

DeMonfort Music

Christmas 2012 has come and gone, and for a lot of people, it’s been another round of traditions and family reunions. But for a convent of nuns outside of St. Joseph, this year was a little different.

Bishop Finn: 'Boys Will Be Boys'

Aug 30, 2012

The Kansas City Star reported Thursday afternoon on comments made by Bishop Robert Finn regarding pornographic images of children on a priest's computer.

Diocese Releases Abuse Report

Aug 9, 2012
The Catholic Key

The ombudsman for the people of the Kansas City-St. Joseph Catholic diocese to look into accusations of sexual abuse by clergy has released her first annual report.

Alex Smith / KCUR

In mid-April, the Vatican issued strong criticism of its largest organization for American Catholic nuns, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.

In a Mass today at St. Peter's Basilica, Pope Benedict XVI delivered a scathing homily that reiterated the Catholic Church's ban on female priests.

He also criticized a group of priests who have called on their colleagues to ignore Rome. NPR's Barbara Bradley Hagerty filed this report for our Newscast unit:

National Catholic Reporter editor-at-large Tom Roberts has witnessed a lot over his career: a Catholic Church still reacting to Vatican II, a dramatic demographic shift, and more recently, a sex abuse scandal that has revealed a growing inadequacy of the hierarchical culture. 

Recent events in Kansas City have raised a new public furor about abuse by Catholic priests, but no one really knows how long the problem has been going on. According to the Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests, nearly 16,000 abuse victims have spoken out nationwide since 1950.

Click above for the entire show.  See below for individual stories.

Debunking the End of the World

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

The Catholic church is still reeling from news that Bishop Robert Finn and the Diocese of Kansas City-St Joseph have been indicted on criminal charges related to the sex abuse scandal.

Historic Abuse Case Filed: Bishop Named

Oct 14, 2011
photo: Dan Verbeck/KCUR

Kansas City, Mo. – A state court grand jury empanelled in Kansas City has indicted the Bishop and the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph on charges of failing to report child abuse. It is the first criminal indictment of a Catholic Bishop in the history of child abuse cases in the United States.

Suit Claims Church Hid Priest's Child

Sep 26, 2011

Harrisonville, Mo. – A lawsuit was filed today alleging the Catholic Kansas City- St. Joseph Diocese covered up purported sexual transgressions of a priest, but this time the allegations do not center on child abuse. In this case, the issue is a priest fathering a child by a married woman in a parish he served.

The man making the allegations against the priest is the husband of the woman who had the child.

Kansas City, MO – Earlier this summer, about 25 Cuban families gathered to honor Father Patrick Tobin, a Catholic Priest who helped them settle in Kansas City almost 50 years ago. As a board member of Catholic Relief Services, Tobin was given the job of helping refugees fleeing the Cuban Revolution. Tobin organized parishes in Kansas City to provide housing, jobs and basic services for the Cubans. Alex Smith spoke with Father Patrick Tobin as well as one of the Cubans who arrived in the early 60s, Maria Rovarosa.