Bishop James Johnston
Bishop James Johnston

KANSAS CITY, MO — Pope Francis has appointed a new leader of the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese, permanently replacing a bishop convicted of failing to report child sex abuse.

The Vatican named Bishop James V. Johnston, Jr. as the new bishop of diocese. Johnston has been been leader of the Springfield - Cape Girardeau Diocese since 2008. He will be installed in his new post on Nov. 4.

This comes five months after former Bishop Robert Finn resigned after he was found guilty in 2012 of failure to report suspected abuse and was sentenced to two years of probation. He is the highest-ranking church official in the United States to be convicted of not taking action in response to abuse allegations.

The temporary caretaker of the church, Archbishop Joseph Naumann, will introduce Johnston to the chancery staff at 10 a.m. Tuesday.

The announcement also comes days before Francis arrives in the United States on Sept. 22 for a five-day visit.

Johnston was born on Oct. 16, 1959, in Knoxville, TN. He attended Catholic elementary and secondary school and in 1982 earned a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

He left a career in engineering in 1985 in order to pursue a call to the priesthood. He attended St. Meinrad School of Theology in Indiana, obtained his Master of Divinity Degree there in 1990 and was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Knoxville on in June 1990. He earned a Licentiate in Canon Law from the Catholic University of America in 1996.

In Knoxville, he served in parish ministry and as Chancellor and Moderator of the Curia. In 2005, Johnston and two other priests were awarded the Citizens Award for Bravery by the U.S. Department of the Interior for helping save a family in danger of plunging over a waterfall in Glacier National Park.

As bishop of Springfield-Cape Girardeau he has successfully encouraged vocations to the priesthood, helped establish Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri and supported the Catholic Worker movement.

Among his national commitments, Bishop Johnston served on the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Child and Youth Protection and is currently Episcopal Liaison to the National Council of Catholic Women.

He also served on the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Child and Youth Protection.