A shepherd’s sad voice

Over at his blog, Achilles and his gold, Fr. Mark White posts a series of communications with his bishop, Barry Knestout, in the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia. (A quick caveat: I attended seminary with Fr. White and have the utmost respect and admiration for him. He is a speaker of truth and desires the same clarity and accountability that we are all requesting from the hierarchy.)

The exchange between this bishop and priest is, I fear, the all-too-common response of prelates today: take words and manipulate them to your own end. But for what? To conceal? To prevent discovery of the truth? To silence?

Some history–Bishop Knestout was ordained as a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington and grew up in the pre-McCarrick Washington milieu. He was Cardinal Hickey’s secretary for 10 years. Once McCarrick came on the scene, Knestout (whose brother is also a priest of the Archdiocese) became his secretary as well, serving McCarrick off and on from 2001 to 2004. In 2008, Knestout was ordained as an auxiliary bishop by Cardinal Wuerl.

All of that is to say that if you are looking for someone with an insider’s view into any issues in Washington regarding McCarrick, Bishop Bransfield, Msgr. Rossi, or others reported on recently (see @george_neumayr), Bishop Knestout would be a logical person to ask.

So why is it that one of the people I’d put at the top of any witness list to ask about any of these cases seems so standoffish, if not intentionally obstructionist. I don’t know the inside details of the stories, and I have no idea what Bishop Knestout might know, but he’s been close to the action for years. In this current environment that is calling for investigation and justice, he should be raising his hand to volunteer to lead an investigation, not covering anything up.

We need leaders who are willing to respond not only to their priests–who are suffering just like the laity–but also the lay people under their care. We cannot operate on Vatican time to deal with this crisis. The people need to see swift action and the results of investigations.

Please pray for our bishops: “Yet there are shepherds who want to have the title of shepherd without wanting to fulfill a pastor’s duties.” (St. Augustine, On the Shepherds)

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