My Letter to the Vatican

[I wrote Bishop Knestout, asking him to revoke his decisions about my ministry. He answered promptly in the negative. I have taken recourse by writing to the Apostolic See, as follows.]


June 23, 2020

His Eminence Beniamino Cardinal Stella, Prefect, Congregation for Clergy


Dear Cardinal Stella,


Glory to Jesus Christ!

I hope that this letter finds Your Eminence well. My advocate, Mr. Michael Podhajsky, J.C.L. received Your Eminence’s correspondence, which you had written in response to my petition for hierarchical recourse. I appreciate your letter. That said, I write to you for two reasons, pertaining to the principles of truth and justice upon which we base our Gospel mission.

First, I do not think that justice has been served in this case. Your Eminence correctly noted in your letter to Mr. Podhajsky that we had neglected to use the word “procurator” in my original mandate to him. (We have since rectified this.) This was an oversight on our part, for which we apologize.

In that same mandate, however, I did “fully authorize” Mr. Podhajsky to “speak, negotiate, and correspond on my behalf in all canonical and legal matters as permitted under Church Law.” So, while the word “procurator” did not appear in the original mandate, I nonetheless gave Mr. Podhajsky the essential powers of a procurator, in plenty of time to take recourse within the preemptory deadlines.

Therefore, it seems to me that justice has not yet been served in regard to the matter of my hierarchical recourse. The fact is that I confront a manifest denial of justice to my person by my own bishop. I would hope that the salvation of souls, which is the ultimate purpose of the law (c. 1752), would suggest that my petition should be considered according to its merits, rather than left unheard, solely because of a minor technicality. Please remember the insistent widow in Luke 18.

As Mr. Podhajsky explained in his letter to you of April 23, 2020, my bishop decreed my removal as pastor without an appropriate cause, and without having followed the procedures outlined in the canons.

Secondly, I am sorry to have to alert you to this fact:  your letter to Mr. Podhajsky has not resolved the matter. I would kindly draw Your Eminence’s attention to the last sentence of your letter, in which you directed that I report to my new assignment “in obedience to [my] Ordinary.” Unfortunately, I cannot do this, given my present situation and circumstance.

On May 6, shortly after Mr. Podhajsky first wrote to you, my Ordinary suspended my priestly faculties, again without any appropriate or just cause. Therefore, your letter arrived in a situation more complicated than you understood. My Ordinary wrote to me on the same day that Mr. Podhajsky received your letter, and Bishop Knestout indicated that he will not restore my priestly faculties unless and until I remove my weblog from the internet.

Bishop Barry Knestout portraitI had previously written to, and met with, the bishop, to try to foster mutual understanding about the content of my weblog to which he objects. Instead of participating in such a dialogue, Bishop Knestout issued a “vetitum” forbidding me to communicate in any way, using any social media. I received this document in writing on June 17 (enclosed). I have petitioned the bishop to revoke this vetitum, to no avail.

As your Eminence knows, everyone enjoys the natural right to communicate with his or her fellow human beings, to engage in public discourse and debate. Only the cruellest tyrannies try to supress this right by unjust compulsion.

In your letter to Mr. Podhajsky, Your Eminence made no indication regarding this aspect of the situation. I can only assume that is because you had never examined the merits of the case that Mr. Podhajsky laid before you. Had you done so, you would have seen that my assertion of my right to communicate was, in fact, the precipitating factor behind the events that motivated my petition for hierarchical recourse. Also, as you will note from the letter I received from my ordinary on June 19 (enclosed), he appears to prefer that your Congregation settle this matter, rather than he himself.

Please forgive my presumption on your time and attention. But I must insist that your Congregation consider the merits of this case in full. This is a question of a fundamental human right, as Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights outlines it.

My Ordinary’s attempt to unilaterally extinguish my right to communicate now constitutes a serious scandal among the people of this region. Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, Bishop Knestout himself, and the provincial Archbishop, William Lori, of Baltimore, have received correspondence from many quarters on this matter. This correspondence, from Catholics and non-Catholics alike, will verify the danger of scandal that exists here, should my case not receive a fair hearing on the merits.

I thank Your Eminence for your attention to this letter. I look forward to the favor of a response.


Respectfully yours,

Reverend Mark D. White


8 thoughts on “My Letter to the Vatican

  1. Father, don’t give up! There are many of us who believe our clergy should stand up for the truth, as Jesus is the Way, the TRUTH and the Life!

    God bless you, Liz D’Aquino

  2. Father Mark, thank God for your courage as you fight this injustice and for your willingness to stand up for what is right. Like the widow also, I pray to God without ceasing for your protection, for justice, and for your return to our parishes. Your people love you and need you.

  3. May the Lord and Our Mother Mary be with you Father Mark. This journey of seeking truth and the rights of communication and education, as I see it, are critical to returning sanctity to our Church. If truth can not be spoken and rectification can not be had that deters us all from having faith in the ‘human’ aspects of our church – not the church established by our Lord which represented a communion of all of us with a blessed hierarchy to fully represent our Lords teachings. My prayers continue daily for you and I so appreciate your courage to persist in these matters no matter the cost you are personally paying.

  4. I no nothing about canon law but shouldn’t your church attorney handle all communications as you appeal the decision? Maybe this was his advised course (?)

    1. Good question. The technicality the Cardinal invoked the first time around involved the proper authorization of my canon lawyer to write on my behalf. Rather than address the case, the Congregation simply refused to recognize my lawyer’s letters as representations of my claim. So I have to re-initiate the claim myself, in the hopes I will get a reasonable, charitable response. Then, since my lawyer and I have fixed the problem the Cardinal cited, my lawyer can then write on my behalf again, and they should address the actual case, rather than just the technicality. May it please God.

  5. A prayer for Fr. White and his supporters …

    Prayer for Unity of the Church

    Heavenly Father, Your blessed Son asked that His Church be one as you and He are one, but Christians have not been united as He prayed. We have isolated ourselves from each other and failed to listen to each other. We have misunderstood and ridiculed and even gone so far as to attack each other. In doing so we have offended against You, against all our brothers and sisters in the Church, and against all who have not believed in You because of our scandalous disunity. Forgive us, Father, and make us fully one. Blot out our sins, renew our minds, enkindle our hearts, and guide us by Your Holy Spirit, into that oneness which is Your will. Amen.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s