Happy Mother’s Day

Elizabeth Taylor Richard Burton
Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton

In Act IV of William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, Petruchio insists that his new wife Katherina submit her mind to his.

In mid-afternoon, Petruchio proclaims that it’s actually 7:00am. He demands that Katherina concede this. “It shall be what o’clock I say it is!”

Petruchio’s friend Hortensio comments: “Why, so this gallant will command the sun.”

Let’s imagine a courtroom scene. The members of the jury file into the box, having completed their deliberations.

The judge asks the foreman, “Have you reached a verdict?”

“Yes, Your Honor. We find the defendant not guilty!”

So the judge says to the accused: “Very well. You will retain the title of ‘free man.’ Your prison uniform will read ‘free man’ across the back of the shirt. Now, bailiff, cuff him, and take him to San Quentin.”

Yesterday, locksmiths under the direction of the pastor of a neighboring parish came to Rocky Mount and Martinsville. They locked me out of both churches, and one of the two residences, in our parish cluster.

This past Wednesday I spoke with Father Kevin. I told him that I would concede to him the duties of my office. (Since I cannot perform them, having been suspended from ministry by Bishop Knestout.)

I also told Father Kevin that I intended to continue my normal routine of residing in both parishes for part of each week. If nothing else, I could at least make sure than any maintenance problems at the houses get solved, while I work on my Shakespeare book and wait for this nightmare to end.

(For instance, the basement of the house in Rocky Mount can flood very easily. The storm drain outside the basement door tends to get clogged with fallen leaves. I sweep the area out every couple weeks.)

As it happened yesterday, only good fortune kept me from getting locked out completely. I stood in the doorway when the locksmith came to the little house in Martinsville. He did not proceed with the “re-keying” for one reason. I happened to be there.

St Andrew
Church of St. Andrew, Roanoke, Va.

I asked if he would return today or tomorrow. He said he didn’t know. He was in the employ of the facilities manager of St. Andrew’s. He would follow Wayne’s orders.

So I live now with the daily fear that I will leave the premises to take care of something–like do some exercise, for example–and return to find that my key doesn’t work anymore. (Don’t fret, however, dear reader. I have a plan for that possible calamity. I’m not going to wander homeless in the streets.)

The lock changing yesterday is a crime that cries to heaven for vengeance.

As I said, if I had been in one place instead of another early yesterday afternoon, I would now be completely dependent on the kindness of individuals for the thing that Holy Mother Church owes me by Her solemn commitment: a roof over my head in the parishes where I am the lawful pastor.

May God have mercy on everyone involved in changing the locks. As we read in Scripture: The Lord’s justice will not be mocked.

Like most parish priests who have labored for years to till the soil, so to speak, I think of these parishes here as rose gardens. Yesterday the diocese showed up to turn the soil for springtime. With a bulldozer.

It does not have to be this way.

On November 21, 2019, I asked Bishop Knestout to go over with me the blog posts I had written which he did not like. So that I could understand his objections and make corrections. I made the same request at a second meeting on February 5, 2020. On neither occasion did he consent to do so.

On December 14, 2019, I wrote to His Excellency, proposing the names of five brother priests of the diocese, to whom I would submit as censors for my weblog. I never got a response to this proposal.

In February of this year, an experienced industrial mediator in one of the parishes proposed to both myself and the bishop that he serve as a local censor for my blog, reviewing all posts prior to publication. I agreed to submit to this. The bishop declined.

The gentleman made the same offer again in March. I agreed again. The bishop declined again.

As far as I am concerned, all of these offers remain on the table. I want only good communication, compromise, peace, and a return to some semblance of our normal parish life here. This is what I hope and pray for.

The bishop made this controversy a matter of public debate by writing to the parishioners on March 19. My dear canon lawyer and I only appealed to the Vatican after all our attempts at compromise got nowhere. We had written to the bishop in late March, asking for a clarification of the record. We got no response.

For my part, I am ready and willing to go back to the state of affairs as they stood on November 21 of last year. Then try to work constructively from there. I said this to the bishop in person on February 5.

I say it again now. We can start over. It doesn’t have to be this way. With heaven looking down in sorrow and disgust.

17 thoughts on “Happy Mother’s Day

  1. You are absolutely right, Fr. Mark. It does not have to be this way. The Bishop does not want reconciliation…he, in my opinion, wants only to silence your voice. May God protect you and keep you safe. May God have mercy on this Bishop for what he is doing to damage the faith, and to the people who watch all of this unfold, and by the Bishop’s actions are driven further away from God rather than brought closer. The truth at the heart of this is out there and sooner or later I believe it will emerge. And that , in my opinion, is what the Bishop fears.

  2. This Mother’s Day I am 1) very proud of Mark for speaking truth in his blog and for refusing to buckle to Knestout’s evil designs against him; 2) very proud of Ben’s work as a dad to Jacob and Rafi and proud of his sterling work as a journalist; 3) proud of myself for getting Mark’s story into the Washington Post; and 4) hugely angry at Catholics for failing PUBLICLY to speak truth to power. NO CATHOLIC has spoken out in public to criticize Knestout’s attempt to destroy my son. What is the matter with you? In God’s name, summon up the guts to speak the truth.

  3. A merciful and forgiving man would take that offer. Very good blog, Father.

  4. After reading your blog this morning, Father Mark, I am left with heavy heart. I am a parishioner of St. Andrews, yet, feel very disconnected with my Church at this moment. I cannot understand why all these forces are against you for speaking the truth. I cannot understand why the Church is trying to silence you, when they should be trying to remove pedophiles from the priesthood, instead of protecting them by shuffling them to a different parish. It’s as if we are living in an alternate universe. May God have mercy on the souls who are doing this to you! In my 52 years on this Earth, I have seen many different types of injustice, but this is definitely near the top of the list! I love God with all my heart, but I am not sure I can continue to be involved with a parish that treats you this way. I will speak up, and I hope others will as well.

  5. I can’t find a way to email you privately, so I’ll leave a more vague comment here. Thank you for showing victims that we matter. Two years ago I was sexually assaulted by my spiritual director, but because I am an adult, I have received no help at all from the church. I’ve never asked for money, only that my assailant not be able to do this to someone else.
    It’s hard to not be completely disenfranchised with the entire church after seeing how poorly they are willing to treat victims. Priests like you give me hope.

  6. Forgive me for adding another comment, but I just want to add this: Bishop Knestout’s letter regarding the suspension of Father Mark dated May 6, 2020 states “I have a responsibility to ensure all ministries within the diocese work to unify and build the Body of Christ, not cause further discord”, yet, further discord is what is happening here! How can covering up a sin unify and build the Body of Christ?
    Just as Jesus became angry and spoke out publicly about the gambling going on in the Temple, Father Mark is speaking out against the pedophilia going on inside the Church today.
    If the Bishop is so concerned about the parishioners, as his letter states, then why not let them make their own choice on whether or not to keep Mark on? He is firing Father Mark, basically, but it isn’t like Mark can just go get another job; there is only one Catholic Church!

  7. Father, Praying for you and the Bishop for a reconciliation with the intent that both of you, united, move forward and expose the truth of this scandal for the world to see.

  8. Knestout is the most scandalous cleric the Richmond diocese has experienced. His vengeful conduct and supercilious attitude are a disgrace to his office and make one question why Catholics tolerate any of it. His reign of terror will continue until better people confront him.Personally, I reject him as bishop.

  9. As a member of St. Andrew’s Parish, I am concerned that my Pastor has been brought into this fiasco that has been brought about by the Bishop. It has shaken my Faith. Father Mark, I have great respect and admiration for you as the result of my coming to know you when you were Pastor of St. Andrew’s and have followed your Blog since that time. Knowing what has been made public about the Bishop’s History, I wonder what is motivating his efforts to silence you. May God continue to give you strength and courage.

  10. Reblogged this on HAURIETIS AQUAS and commented:
    Read the letters of a good priest who has been told to “pack your bags” Read the letters of his bishop, the oppressor.. Dear Father White, you have my prayers and surely the prayers of all who read these letters. You have been a sorely needed source of grace with your articles here. May justice be yours!

  11. I wonder…when forces resist Truth their silence places a shroud of suspicion over them. It’s as simple as that. The Bishop sholuld be leading the charge on this matter since his former employer (McCarrick) is at the center of the scandal. Who should demand truth more then the Bishop? Father Mark, I cannot imagine how torn you are over this. It’s easy for fme to post a message but prayer is the most powerful weapon I have and I place you in the hands of our Blessed Mother for protection through my prayer..

  12. Me again! What is driving the Bishop’s vendetta against a good priest? Possibly fear of the release of the McCarrick Report…which Fr. Mark has repeatedly called for and the Vatican says, “Soon.” And why would he [Bishop] fear the release of that report? Think about it…. May God protect you Fr. Mark.

  13. While I don’t necessarily agree with all of Father Mark’s views, or the frankly, oftentimes sensational approach, I do 100% support his quest for the truth.

    Catholic Church hierarchy specializes in shuck and jive, bob and weave, still to this day. For Bishop Knestout to claim, like Sergeant Schultz in Hogan’s Heroes, “I know nothing” regarding McCarrick, goes beyond the pale. He should resign merely for dereliction of duty.

    I published this proposal for Catholic Church reform two years ago, and anyone has my permission to share. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/lord-have-mercy-john-seng/

  14. Leave my address. My number my location in longitude and. Latitude

    It will. Not d’s shake me to again say how obscene this is..we have. Spoken. Out. For. Our. Selves..for relatives. Who. Labored to keep. The faith. And for us. Who. Were always. An oddity. Because of Our faith. Fr Mark we. Love. You.you are. Very close to. The default line.

  15. I followed John Seng’s link to Lord Have Mercy, and from there I went to the link to BishopAccountability.org. “Documenting the Abuse Crisis in the Roman Catholic Church.” [copied] I am still relatively new at researching information, although learning more every day, and I appreciated finding this website.

  16. I read about your story in the Post today and while I’m sorry to read what you are going through I am also glad their is a a voice challenging the leadership of the church. I have not been able to bring myself to mass since the McCarrick scandal. It so rocked my faith in the institution of the church that I could no longer go. I don’t know who I can trust in the church so I don’t trust anyone. I am angry about this. I miss going to mass and participating in the sacraments. I’ve really needed it at times but I can no longer trust the men who are leading it. There should be an outcry of voices like yours so that we can clean up this mess.

    May God bless you and give you strength.

  17. I will add you to my prayer Father. This injustice be remedied and that you may continue serving as God wants.

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