Update: “Remonstratio Placed Out of Time”

canon law codex canonici

On June 17, my canon lawyer received a letter from the Congregation of the Clergy in Rome. The letter said two things.

1. My lawyer never had standing to speak on my behalf.

2. I should go to my new assignment, since the time limit to appeal the bishop’s decision had passed.

This surprised both my lawyer and me. Bishop Knestout had corresponded with my lawyer, taking for granted that my lawyer spoke for me, throughout April and into May.

(In March, we had presented to the bishop a notarized document in which I authorized my lawyer to write and speak on my behalf.)

We had followed all the proper procedures. My lawyer petitioned for justice; when the bishop rejected the petition, we went to Rome, asking for redress. We did everything well within the legal time limits. (The full timeline is available here.)

That same day, June 17, when the letter came from Rome, I also received a letter from Bishop Knestout. It informed me that I could not, in fact, take up my new assignment, as the Congregation said I should do, until this weblog ceased to exist.

st-peters-sunriseThis stipulation left me in limbo. I can hardly conceive that Bishop Knestout has a right to order me simply to shut up. I long ago conceded that he has every right to supervise, edit, purloin, moderate, even perhaps suppress, statements of mine regarding Catholic faith and morals. My friends and I repeatedly proposed compromise solutions.

In his letter to me of June 17, however, the bishop expressed his position in writing for the first time: You will not criticize your betters. Period.

When I tried to reason with the bishop about the impossibility of this situation, he rebuked me harshly. So I wrote to the Congregation for the Clergy myself, begging them to decide the case that my lawyer had presented to them. Then my lawyer petitioned the bishop again, waited for a response that never came, then petitioned the Vatican again.

I never received any reply from the Congregation. A few days ago, my lawyer received an answer to his petition.

The Congregation insists that my letter to them “cannot be considered an initial request for a favorable decree, but must be treated as a remonstratio placed out of time.” [remonstratio = appeal]

This defies reality. The written record clearly shows how we filed everything with punctilious promptness, beginning on Easter Monday, when the bishop originally published his decree removing me as pastor.

Cardinal Stella goes on, in his recent letter:

The fatalia legis in this case is no mere ‘technicality,’ but exists in law to prevent the decisions of ecclesiastical authority from remaining permanently in question. [fatalia legis = time limits for filing appeals]

Two interesting things to note about this sentence.

1. This is the first time that the word ‘technicality’ has appeared in the legal correspondence in this case. Cardinal Stella put the word in quotes, as if quoting someone. But neither my lawyer nor I used the word in our letters in June and August. We made constructive legal arguments, having to do with the situation as it now stands. It seems that the Cardinal himself recognizes that the word ‘technicality’ would naturally come to mind.

2. 100% agree that: The decisions of ecclesiastical authority should indeed not remain open permanently to question. We must have time limits for appeals.

We acted well within those time limits. We promptly raised questions about the justice of the bishop’s actions against me. Those questions remain unaddressed.

My lawyer and I did our part, to offer everything the court needed to investigate the situation, establish the facts, and apply the law. No one ever said this is an easy case; it involves difficult questions about free speech in the Church. We never asked for anything other than the due process of law, and a decision based on the reality of the situation.

Neither Bishop Knestout, nor the Congregation for the Clergy, have done their part. They have not faced the facts of the matter. They have said, over and over again, for months, simply this: “Shut up, and go away.”

That’s not how you solve anything. Bishop Knestout’s decisions regarding my ministry as a priest will remain in question. The Congregation’s rejection of the case on the flimsiest technicality means that the bishop’s decisions will remain in question indefinitely.

My lawyer and I did everything we could to inform the court and contribute to a just resolution. We tried.

PS. This is not the absolute end of the road. We have the right to appeal to a court called the Apostolic Signatura, and we will do so. My lawyer says that the Signatura could remand the case to the Congregation for the Clergy, insisting that we get a hearing. Say a prayer.

PPS. From the beginning, I have always felt that time is on our side. In spite of this painful development, I still do. I miss being the pastor, to be sure. But I have a roof over my head, prayers and Masses to say, a book to finish and try to get published… In other words, I’m ok. God is good. One day at a time.


10 thoughts on “Update: “Remonstratio Placed Out of Time”

  1. My prayers remain for a more clear closure in your case Father Mark. Paperwork is often a labyrinth of contradictory information. At some point you and Bishop Knestout will finally start moving to a point with less regret and mistakes. Be careful with the book Father Mark, no matter the intention, you writing could be construed against you as well. Remember “If” by Kipling. May the Lord guard and guide His people.

  2. I also believe that time is on your side. I continue to pray for justice. I continue to pray for and believe in the miracle of you being restored as our priest.
    While none of us, no matter how much we may care about you, hurt for you, love you, and pray for you…none of us can truly experience what you have been through and continue to go through during this time.
    Your steadfastness and faith throughout set the example for all of us to follow.
    I believe God has a purpose to be fulfilled through you as a result of all of this turmoil and suffering. May God’s love and protection strengthen you and uphold you in the days ahead.

  3. To which I say BULLSHIT, not to put too fine a point on it. All the more reason to sue the Bastards.


    Sent from my iPhone


  4. Whether the readers here agree with you or not, no one can deny what is happening to you is wrong!! I pray you will have the strength to keep fighting and getting the truth out! God Bless you Father Mark.

  5. I made a decision today.

    Recently I watched Fatima, the 2020 movie. It caused me to reflect on the ever-present call to prayer depicted so well in the movie and affirmed by probably EVERY saint and apparition of Our Lady since the time our Lord walked the earth.

    A friend and I were discussing the general lack of faith or belief in miracles today. And I decided…

    It is time! Time to BELIEVE and to PRAY and to BEG and to PERSIST, because God’s reality is not ours nor are his ways our ways…

    Praying for wisdom, praying for courage, praying for a MIRACLE!

  6. I believe that the fidelity of the Martyrs is miraculous! I will pray that Fr. White will always honour his calling to Christ’s ministerial priesthood, even if this means finding another bishop. May Fr. White never seek laicization! (Even if the faithless bureaucrats and open homosexuals who infest the bureaucracy opt to maintain cover for an ally of that reprobate-scum named Theodore McCarrick).

  7. I support you Fr. Mark, but I’d be remiss not to point out that one of your correspondences does include the word “technicality.”

    “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.”

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

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

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s