An Exchange Between Bishop and Priest in the Church we Live in Now

[in reverse chronological order]

 

Excellency,

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

 

Knestout Letter Sept 12

 

On Sun, Sep 9, 2018 at 2:12 PM, Mark White <moreheheard@gmail.com> wrote:

Excellency,

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.

Yours, Mark

On Sun, Sep 9, 2018 at 10:58 AM, Bishop Knestout <bishop@richmonddiocese.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,

Bishop Knestout

 

From: Mark White <moreheheard@gmail.com>
Sent: Sunday, September 9, 2018 7:20 AM
To: Bishop Knestout <bishop@richmonddiocese.org>
Cc: Michael Boehling <mboehling@richmonddiocese.org>
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 <moreheheard@gmail.com> wrote:

Your Excellency,

 

 

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

15 thoughts on “An Exchange Between Bishop and Priest in the Church we Live in Now

  1. Father Mark, if anyone’s comments helped you that is a blessing. I pray for you frequently and earnestly in this time. You really do not know how to stay out of trouble though. May the Lord grant you comfort and healing.

  2. Ecclesiastic Bullshit. Don’t back down . I will personally lead a march on Richmond if necessary. Stupid is as stupid does.

    Joe

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  3. I am only a lay person with no particular standing in the church, but for what it is worth, I will back you 100% on whatever you write and do. I wish I had your strength and courage.
    Judy R.

  4. Fr. Mark,

    I knew it was only a matter of time before the Powers that be came to silence you.
    Thank you for for expressing what many of the Faithful feel. You are not alone in your thoughts as for example,
    Fr. Gerald Murray.
    Know that you are daily in my Prayers as well as the Church during these difficult times.
    Pace e bene!
    Jerry Webber

  5. The Pharisees tried to destroy Jesus for what He spoke. Catherine of Sienna moved the Pope when nobody else could do anything. St. Francis broke away from the materialistic society and converted many souls. The Church tried to sanction Mother Angelica after all she had done in getting Catholic dogma out to the World.
    I’m not certain posting letters from your superiors is beneficial to the cause but I totally understand your frustration, Father Mark. Many of us who left the Church post Vatican II felt frustrated but being lay people we had nowhere to go – so we just left and most of us who have returned still carry that burden – the burden of guilt and the absence of receiving the Eucharist over the years. Ignoring the changes did not help us and many still have not returned. Bongo drums instead of Benediction just didn’t work as an example.
    Over the last few years, we have heard about corruption in the Vatican, orgies, homosexual priests, bishops, cardinals, the lack of response from the Pope when Cardinals ask questions related to dogma, Communion given to Lutherans, disunity from diocese to diocese, political partisanship within the church and the list goes on.
    I am not convinced all of your decisions to bring this to the forefront are completely justified but sometimes doing nothing is the worst course of action.
    I will continue to pray for you and all our parish priests who have to respond to those of us who do not like to stick their heads in the sand.
    I AM convinced that God will save our Church but there must be some sacrificial lambs offered up to
    Him – penance for wrongdoing. In the words of St. Catherine of Sienna – “..to sin is human, but to keep sinning is devilish…”
    A few more thoughts – Pope Benedict stepped down and it got worse. Father Murray has been critical of Pope Frances on International TV. Let there be more parish priests come forward in support of a timely resolution and let the laity which have helped held together the church be respected with the truth.

  6. Dear Father Mark,
    If we were in ordinary times I might not agree with your posting communications from your bishop like this. I might even say you lack discretion. But these aren’t ordinary times. We are in a spiritual battle the likes of which none of us have ever seen.

    I’m only a simple lay person, but I’ve spent considerable sums of money studying theology in college & grad school, taking classes to gain catechist certification, and making handsome donations to various appeals, charities, programs, and the like. I’m one of those people in the pew, earnestly trying to live the Faith, share it and help lead as many souls to heaven as possible.

    When I see Church resources, the Faith/Magisterium/Depost of Faith/Catechism and the souls of the faithful being scandalized, ignored, patronized & otherwise treated as optional or even unnecessary I cannot help but feel deeply grieved.

    So when I see (quite by happenstance) a priest doing the very things we simple people in the pew have been desperately longing to see—a faithful, strong, manly priest defend the Truth, champion what is right and call things as they are—I cannot help but say THANK YOU! I pledge whatever support I can offer because there are far too few of you and you need to know how much you mean to us.

    God bless you. You have my prayers.

    Sincerely,
    Heather

  7. Ahh father mark, I hope and pray that you do not get into too much trouble…. my prayers are with you and have been as well as with all those struggling during this time…. god bless… love and peace…

  8. Apparently, the “good old boys club” in Virginia is closing ranks and trying to keep others silent on the issue of sexual abuse of children for their own self preservation. Any attempt by the hierarchy to squelch this evil deed will eventually prove them to be on the loosing side of His Story. All Bishop’s needs to check out Bishop Persico of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Erie, Pennsylvania who is now proactive in this serious matter. The Bishops in Pennsylvania, let it be known, were forced into righting this wrong by law enforcement and now the Church will no longer be able to shelter the guilty. Check out the long and growing list of criminals uncovered over the years by that Diocese if you want your eyes opened to the length of time this has been perpetuated. Thank you Father White for not sweeping this under the carpet like it has been for so long. You are close to the cross.

  9. Fr. Mark! Your pen is more impressive than your stature, head and shoulders above the many! You are a warrior after King David’s Heart! This man has you in my various morning prayers and is very proud to know you. IFF you and Joe Kernan are indeed “a disgrace” please let me be counted in your number! I am very impressed by the number of women (not ‘persons’) that side you in this moment to include my wife.

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