[in reverse chronological order]
Today I received your letter dated September 12th. It disturbs me in a number of ways. We seem to have a couple serious misunderstandings.
First, you write, “As you requested, I would certainly like to meet with you.” In fact, I never requested a meeting with you. When Mike called me, I tried to do him the courtesy of keeping him out of the middle of an interchange between you and me. But I never requested a meeting with you; I do not want to drive to Richmond for such a meeting.
Second, you write that, in my open letter, I “demanded” that the Holy Father resign. That is not true. I begged him to resign. I explicitly acknowledged that he alone has a right to make such a decision. You could easily check what I wrote on my weblog–except you censored the post. I never demanded anything. I humbly begged. “Beg” was my exact word.
So when you write that I failed in courtesy to you, disrespected you, and damaged my ecclesial communion with you, by “demanding” the resignation of your immediate ecclesiastical superior, I am left at a loss. Did I disrespect you, or Pope Francis, by begging? Did I act with anything less than courtesy towards you, or Pope Francis, by begging? Did I damage ecclesial communion by begging?
You asked me to apologize to Pope Francis. For what? For loving him enough to point out that we have reached a dangerous impasse? If the full truth about McCarrick does not come out, then how will any of us who have been touched by his ministry recover? But, at the same time, how can any of us have confidence that the Holy Father will see to the full disclosure of all the facts? He has had ample time and opportunity to disclose them. But he studiously has refused to do so.
You write that I have done you wrong by “addressing issues that directly affect” you. Have you yourself suffered reprisals from the Holy See because of what I, one of your priests, has written? If so, I am sorry. But you can hardly identify me as the villain in that scenario.
You ask me to “withhold judgment until such time that more clarity of the facts has occurred.” When will that be? I have carefully and patiently used my own little weblog to collect facts about this case. I have done so for the good of my own soul, and the good of the souls entrusted to my care. All of us are deeply scandalized, and we yearn for a public reckoning with the truth. How else can we move forward with trust, and in communion with each other? My weblog actually has a fairly extensive collection of facts, as we know them. It has a far more extensive collection of the facts than any public disclosure from the episcopal level of the Church.
For this work on my part, do you thank me? No. You mischaracterize what I have written. You call me discourteous and disrespectful. And you accuse me of damaging ecclesial communion with you.
Excellency, I cannot regard this as fatherly solicitude on your part. I see only an attempt to browbeat me into silence. That attempt is now one of the sordid facts of the McCarrick case. You write that you look forward to our “frank and open discussion.” Me, too. I believe that such a discussion should now be a matter of public record, so I will post all our correspondence on my blog.
Yours in Christ, Mark
On Sun, Sep 9, 2018 at 2:12 PM, Mark White <email@example.com> wrote:
Thank you for writing back to me so promptly. And I appreciate your mentioning having reasons for censoring my weblog. I did not hear a reason that I could understand during the phone call that I had with Mike on Friday.
For me to make the trip to Richmond this week would pose something of a hardship on the parishes here, and would be difficult for me to manage. As I mentioned to Mike on the phone, I was peacefully minding my own business when he called me. This is not an encounter that I requested.
If you have an opportunity to write back expressing your reasons for censoring my weblog, I would be grateful. Understanding your reason(s) would certainly make this business easier for me.
As things stand, Mike’s phone call strikes me as just the kind of heavy-handed silencing of honest communication that got us into this huge mess in the first place. I very much wish, and pray, that the Holy Father would do what I begged him to do. I think it would give us a chance for a fresh start. As it is, the Church looks to outsiders like an institution stuck in a recurring nightmare.
Also, Mike referred to anonymous “complaints” about the letter. This misses a fundamental point. A weblog is a forum for communication and debate. I do not censor comments that people submit. To the contrary, I rejoice when others express themselves in disagreement with me. Anyone who complained to you has the perfect freedom to comment on any of my posts. That seems to me like a far more constructive way of dealing with disagreements, preferable to censorship by order of ecclesiastical authority.
For these reasons, I did not appreciate Mike’s phone call. But, as you know, I nonetheless did what you asked me to do.
On Sun, Sep 9, 2018 at 10:58 AM, Bishop Knestout <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
Dear Fr. White,
Thank you for the e-mail and your response to my request, extended through Fr. Boehling, that the blog post in question be removed.
I very much want to meet with you in person to discuss this issue and my reasons for the request. After a conversation together, I would be happy to follow up with a communication in writing, if that is helpful.
I am able to meet with you at one of the following times this week: at 2 pm on Tuesday, September 11th, or at 10 am on Wednesday, September 12th, or anytime between 11 am and 5 pm on Thursday, September 13th. If none of these work, I am sure that another mutually convenient time can be arranged.
I ask that you work with Anne Edwards at 804-622-5251 to finalize a time, since she assists in managing my calendar.
Thanks again for your kind attention to this matter, and for your generous service in this Church of Richmond.
Sincerely in Christ,
From: Mark White <email@example.com>
Sent: Sunday, September 9, 2018 7:20 AM
To: Bishop Knestout <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Cc: Michael Boehling <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: blog post
PS. If you have any further directives for me, Excellency, I would appreciate it if you would communicate them to me directly, rather than through an intermediary, and in writing.
On Fri, Sep 7, 2018 at 2:16 PM, Mark White <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
Mike Boehling called me to tell me you were asking me to remove one of my blog posts. I have done as you asked.
Love, Mark White