Pope Francis on Tuesday appointed Springfield-Cape Girardeau Bishop James V. Johnston, Jr. as the new bishop for the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.
Johnston, 55, replaces Archbishop Joseph Naumann, who had been leading the diocese on an interim basis since the resignation of Bishop Robert Finn in April.
Archbishop Naumann introduced Bishop Johnston to Chancery staff at the Catholic Center in downtown Kansas City Tuesday morning.
Dennis Coday, editor of the National Catholic Reporter says the incoming bishop has served on the U.S. Bishop's Committee for Child and Youth Protection. Coday says observers will be paying close attention to how he deals with the sex scandal that's plagued the Catholic church.
"One of the questions we're looking at is to see how he has evolved, how he's come to understand his role of Bishop in these sex abuse cases, because that's going to be real important for the people of Kansas City," Coday told KCUR's Steve Kraske on Up To Date.
According to a release from the diocese, the new bishop was born in Knoxville, Tennesee. He has served the Springfield-Cape Girardeau diocese since 2008. Prior to entering the seminary, Johnston had a short career as an electrical engineer.
The National Catholic Reporter says Johnston's appointment comes relatively quickly for the Vatican in the wake of the resignation of Bishop Robert Finn. Finn resigned following his 2012 misdemeanor conviction for failing to report suspected child abuse by a now-former diocesan priest who was producing child pornography. Finn had come under sustained criticism prior to his resignation.
The National Catholic Reporter says Finn has yet to be placed in another position. Johnston will be installed as bishop of the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese on Nov. 4.