June 21, 2020
My Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Lord, [Spanish]
I hope this finds you well, enjoying a happy Fathers’ Day. I have missed seeing you regularly these past months. The virus has separated us, and continues to separate us.
As you know, Bishop Knestout issued a decree removing me as pastor of our parishes and then suspended my priestly ministry completely. With the help of a Church lawyer, I lodged appeals against both of these unjust decisions.
The Vatican has responded to the first appeal. Beniamino Cardinal Stella wrote to my lawyer. [see below] The Cardinal noted that my lawyer’s first submission in the case omitted one word, a word I myself had never heard before: “procurator.” According to the Cardinal, that omission of one word has nullified our entire case. I think it’s safe to say: someone invented the term “technicality” for situations just like this.
Bishop Knestout wrote to urge me to resign as pastor of St. Francis of Assisi and St. Joseph. And the bishop insists that I cannot minister as a priest, in any capacity, if I continue to communicate via social media, or if I criticize the hierarchy in any way.
I respect the bishop. I have offered proposals for ways to resolve our conflict. But I am not ready to give up fighting for a reasonable outcome to this case. I don’t think I should resign as pastor here. I’m far from perfect, of course. But I think we do well together, you and I. And I can hardly submit to the bishop’s silencing order. No society can survive without respect for the fundamental human right to communicate. I have asked the bishop to reconsider his actions. If he chooses not to do so, I will re-submit all of my arguments to the Vatican, insisting that my case be judged on the merits, rather than a technicality.
It pains me to have reached this point. The hierarchy has acted with contempt towards us. This sadly proves true the criticisms I made in my blog. No one laments this sad fact more than I do. I love the Church with all my heart.
Let’s keep in touch, through the “Justice for Father Mark” facebook group, or my blog. We find ourselves in a pitched spiritual battle together. Our faith is being sorely tried. Let’s keep loving and supporting each other, and hoping for better days.
Love, Father Mark
[I append the correspondence involved, except for Bishop Knestout’s letters to me. A couple months ago, he asked that I not publish his letters, and I honor that request.]
[More on my appeals tomorrow.]
The above letter to parishioners, read aloud in Spanish:
6 thoughts on “Letter to Parishioners”
Dear Father, You have fought the fight and won the race. There is no more to do. You need to go back to your parishioners and lead them to heaven. They need you. Dump the pride. You are too good a priest to keep this up. You made your point. Thank you. love, Georgene
It is with great sorrow in my heart that Rome responded as it did. I pray you and your cannon lawyer much success on your appeal! If I can be of any help please let me know!!
Father Mark, Much as I would love to see you return as our Priest, I know you must follow your conscience because that is your moral compass. I know some would say to please do as the bishop says, but then you would be going against what you dearly believe. May God be with you and know that our prayers are with you always. In the end, we must in God. You have done nothing to deserve the persecution you have endured at the hands of our Catholic hierarchy. Shame on them!..
With Christian love,
Dear Fr. Mark, I agree with Ann Gunter, that you must “follow your conscience because that is your moral compass.” I believe there is a very strong chance the Bishop would turn on you no matter what you do and would take you away from these parishes. He has done nothing to cause any of us to trust him. All of this is proving to the world just how sick the situation is with the Catholic hierarchy. We do not want to lose you as our priest, but you are that special priest to us because of who you are…not who the Bishop is trying to make you into. The Bishop’s recent letter re praying for me (and others, with our special “numbers” designating who we are) on certain days almost caused me to gag. It is about the money (the Diocese isn’t getting enough), nothing else. May God be with you as you go through this time of trial, give you strength and wisdom, and keep you safe. Amen.
Keep fighting, Father. I will stand with you.
You are an amazing person and priest! I am continually praying for you! God has a plan for you!