George Orwell Comes Knocking?

People miss e-mails sometimes; signals get crossed in an office. It happens. Also, people play games sometimes. To manipulate and bully those with less power.

You can be the judge in this case, dear reader. Click HERE for the status quo ante. Thank you for praying.


Richmond-diocese Vicar for Clergy (bishop’s right-hand man for our affairs), yesterday evening at 5:15pm:

Fr. White,

I hope that you are feeling better. I want to thank you ahead of time for coming to meet with Bishop Knestout tomorrow afternoon at the Pastoral Center. If you have not been able to cover your Mass please let me know and I will reach out to provide coverage for you. 

Please know my prayers for you and for safe travels.



My response, yesterday at 6:00pm:

T—, I refer you to my email of last Wed, below, which was cc’d to you. Maybe you missed it.

I did not commit to any meeting time. I asked (twice) for clarification regarding the rationale for the proposed meeting. Having received none, I have made no plans to travel tomorrow. Trying to make such plans at this late moment would pose considerable problems.

So please make sure that His Excellency does not waste any time waiting on my arrival tomorrow afternoon.

In his letter to me, bishop expressed the desire to discuss a blog post. I don’t know which one he had in mind. (There are quite a few.) As I wrote last week, I welcome any written correspondence about my weblog. The blog is, of its very nature, a forum for the free exchange of ideas–as I noted to His Excellency in an email to him in September of 2018.

Fraternally, Mark

Pius x tomb
Pope St. Pius X, in St. Peter’s Basilica

…In 1907, Pope St. Pius X wrote:

It is the duty of the bishops to prevent writings infected with Modernism, or favorable to it, from being read when they have been published, and to hinder their publication when they have not. (Pascendi, paragraph 50)

What is “Modernism?” Click HERE to read my summary of the problem, which continues to plague the world. Here’s another paragraph from Pius X’s encyclical, touching on ecclesiastical authority.

[The Modernist teaches that] We are living in an age when the sense of liberty has reached its fullest development, and when the public conscience has in the civil order introduced popular government… It is for the ecclesiastical authority, therefore, to shape itself to democratic forms, unless it wishes to provoke and foment an intestine conflict in the consciences of mankind…

Such is the situation for the Modernists, and their one great anxiety is, in consequence, to find a way of conciliation between the authority of the Church and the liberty of believers. (para. 23)

Now, I certainly do not propose to solve this problem–that is, the potential conflict between the free exchange of ideas and the legitimate exercise of ecclesiastical authority. Far greater minds than mine spent a lot of the 20th century trying to work that out.

But just for the record, I would like to state clearly:

I do not believe that free speech in the Church has no limits. Bishops have to censor heresy. They should discipline priests who spread lies, or any untruths. And they should call to heel even a priest who would indiscretely spread true information beyond the circle of those who need to know it.

(Though I would also clearly state that I believe Church authority has erred over the last half century in considering it discrete to keep secret the crimes of priests and bishops.)

If I have fallen into heresy, factual error, or genuine indiscretion, I beg to be corrected. Let the admonishment come in writing, with a specific citation of the offending words.

In the absence of such a clear admonishment, I ask ecclesiastical authority to leave me in peace to do the pastoral work assigned to me.

18 thoughts on “George Orwell Comes Knocking?

  1. Still they ignore you. Their treatment of you is disgraceful and childish. No open dialogue, master slave TERROR. or should I say INTIMIDATION . Stay strong and wait for a real response not a mechanical one.

  2. You know i saw a shirt not all that long ago that said along the lines of 1984… make george orwell fiction again. While i am sure many of your readers will get it (though they may or may not agree).. I wondered at the time how many of the general population who saw the shirt would get it. To me having to wonder that is almost as sad as the games that people can play in your opening sentences.

    Bishop Malone just spoke of how understanding and kind pope francis was after his ad limina visit. I have no doubt the pope was kind, but im not sure that his statement was what was needed. He seemed to turn it onto poor pitiful me…. and i dont know his heart or true intentions its why i say seemed. That reaction however was i believe not the one that should have been said. I say all this to say, that speaking the truth and all of the truth is really important… you are and always have been good about that…. so I personally havent seen where you have erred in anything except maybe that you are passionate for what you believe…. oh if only more of had that problem especially when it comes to holy mother church… god bless…

  3. Although I am unable leave comments on your blog-site,  I do however continue to follow your blogs with interest. I get the sense that the proverbial s..t is about to hit the proverbial fan. Best to be on the inlet side of the fan as opposed to the outlet side. Stay strong! Joe

  4. I pray for you. People who are passionate in their beliefs are often persecuted. Perhaps the Bishop would like to visit one of your parishes and talk to you there. God bless you Fr. Mark.

  5. How stupid. Sounds like the Bishop and his
    right-hand- man are not communicating. I wish they would turn their attention to the problems with the bad priests instead of wasting their time persecuting the good ones. They should work in a combined effort to bring the molesters to justice.
    I think I will write another letter to the Bishop even though I didn’t get a satisfactory response the last time I wrote.
    Praying for you daily.

  6. Fr. Mark, I love you and I love our church . Please consider meeting with the Bishop, this could lead to greater understanding for you both . Tell him everything in person you share on your Blog and have a dialogue. You each have different points of view on how to address our scandal . Shutting the door on dialogue won’t further any understanding . You make excellent points , and do so in an often provocative way that is bound to have the Bishop wanting to discuss your posts . Please discuss ! You may not believe it will do any good to chat , but we are all a work in progress. Maybe there is something you can learn from the Bishop about why he is not taking the steps you believe he should . Maybe he can learn from you by discussing your views vs simply reading them. I pray that you both can further the healing of our church . With my prayers for peace and discernment .

    1. Cathy, thank you for writing. The chat you envision is perfectly lovely–with two human beings treating each other with respect. I just wish I had some reason to think such a discussion could occur. I proposed to meet and talk with bishop as you describe, in October of 2018. I never received a reply.

      For you to suggest that I have “shut the door on dialogue” seems unfair, especially considering the fact that my weblog provides an on-going forum for discussion.

      It also seems to me that, if bishop had the intention of having a respectful conversation with me, he could have indicated which blog post he wanted to discuss, before insisting that I drive 360 miles. In my experience, conversations that happen because someone bullies someone else into having the conversation–they pretty much never go well.

  7. Fr. Mark,
    The Story of David and Goliath comes to mind in this modern day version. In today’s version,however, David serves at the pleasure of Goliath and I am afraid will have a different ending. I admire you for your willingness to stand up for what you believe and hope the Diocese will not loose a good and holy Priest over this stand off.
    Blessings and prayers.

  8. I will saythis father mark…. i am very glad you are standing up for what you believe and like you in this i dont see the open dialogue that some are pushing for…. i do agree it would be nice…. buti dont see it….i hope that if the time ever comes we are all willing to stand up for what is truly important….for our church no matter what the cost might be from friends or higher ups…i believe you are defending not only your right to speak but also the church…. may we all be willing to do as much..

  9. Fr. Mark, maybe I am being unfair in viewing your response to the Bishop as shutting down dialogue. I can’t know the whole picture, really none of us can . God alone can see the entirety of this situation. . We can hope to broaden our understanding and that is one of many prayers I have for this situation. I know you and I know that in your presence, it is impossible not to feel your love for the church. That may lead to a willingness to have a dialogue, and may help advance what you are so passionately advocating for. Because I truly believe God is never done with any of us, when we make the move towards advancing understanding, peace and love for our neighbor, he acts. He does not leave it up to us alone. He will provide the grace. With my love and prayers.

  10. His Excellency believes the college of bishops can manage the “death of a thousand cuts” by slogging through scandal after scandal until the faithful and others are completely exhausted into indifference. The reality is otherwise. Very soon the horror of the ritual abuse and murder of children will throttle the souls of all the world. And when some of those who did it are found cowering in the secret closets of Vatican City, Rome might burn again. And may God help all of us Mass-going schlubs through the scorn that rightfully follows behind.

  11. Cathy, what you write is completely divorced from the reality of today’s power-obsessed bishops and the reality of Mark’s situation. Think about it: outside the Catholic church, what decent person would demand that an employee drive four hours in the middle of a working day without giving a reason? You seem to want to preach to Mark without having understood either his situation or the way he is dealing with it.

  12. How ‘bout this for dramatic irony. The overwhelming majority of citizens in this magnificent republic are good. But the men WE elected to represent us used their limited (limitless) power to rob us blind and rape and murder children in tribute to Satan. “Oh, but I didn’t rape and murder children….” Maybe so. But what’s the difference between committing evil and letting it happen in complicit silence?

  13. How wonderful when a man MANS UP against evil as is a man;s job to do. Adam stood by quietly and received the apple. To many men eat apples rather than draw his Christ Given Weapons of Light! Women in general get real nervous at this ‘sword play’, as evidenced above. You can’t dialog with a hungry hyena. Your Bishop came from the inner fold of McCarick. What do you expect, St Francis?
    At the recent gathering o US Bishops, among other outrages, in addressing what “the most pressing problem is” in this country, SIXTYNINE bishops outright forbade any mention of ABORTION! And two of the ringleaders of the Predatory elected Pres’ & VP of the USCCB!
    The Church approved apparition of Our Lady of Good Success, in late 16th century Ecuador,spoke of these very days! Check Her out! Now if i could but learn Fr Marks calm delivery rather than jump in punching, because when all seems utterly lost, Our Lady will step in profoundly! Good Blade-work Fr Mark!

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