I had the privilege of breaking bread with Jefferson City’s Bishop Shawn McKnight during our visit to New Orleans last month; he’s a great friend of deacons and loves the vocation. So I was heartened and moved to read this column tonight—a cri de coeur from a young bishop who has just been on the job for six months and is still trying to comprehend the incomprehensible:
It is almost unbearable. How could a brother bishop disrespect with such callousness the dignity of young boys, seminarians and priests over decades and no one called him on the carpet?
It is inexplicable to me. This cannot continue, and I hope with God’s grace there will be a change of culture among the clergy.
In November, the U.S. Catholic bishops will gather in Baltimore and will consider ways to embrace spiritual renewal and to rebuild trust. I pledge to do everything I can to make the process of handling the accusations of bishops more transparent and effective.
Bishops need the support of the laity, religious, deacons and priests in order to exercise the quality of leadership that Jesus, our Lord and Master, modeled for His Apostles.
Jesus placed the good of others over Himself. Mission over selfish desires.
As successors to the Apostles, we bishops are called to be priests, prophets and shepherds who practice in action what we preach in words.
May God help us to be faithful to Jesus in fulfilling our obligations as bishops.
During my hour of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament each morning this month, I will lift up in prayer all victims of abuse by bishops, priests, deacons, religious, lay ministers or volunteers in our Church.
I encourage any victim who has not already come forward to do so now so that justice may be served and healing can take place. We are in this together.
As we accompany each other in this dark moment of the Church’s history, let us lift up in prayer those who bear responsibility for fixing what is broken, to heal the wounds of the Church.
Our tradition as Roman Catholics is to mention by name the Pope and the diocesan bishop in the most supreme prayer we offer, the Eucharistic Prayer. When you hear the priest say at Mass, “Francis, our Pope, and Shawn our Bishop,” know that the both of us truly rely on and appreciate your prayerful support.
Under the careful watch of the Shepherd of our souls, Jesus Christ, we shall be led from darkness into light.
Read it all. And pray for more shepherds like this one.