A pledge to change the culture, rebuild trust

By Most Rev. W. Shawn McKnight, S.T.D.

On the six-month anniversary of my ordination and installation as the fourth bishop of Jefferson City, my heart is full of gratitude for all the good people of central and northeast Missouri who have been most hospitable and kind to this young and brand new bishop.

I look forward to and pray for many good years of episcopal ministry with all of you in my beloved diocese, a place I am very proud to call home.

Your warm welcome of me contrasts sharply with the sting of the recent reports of scandal regarding Archbishop Theodore McCarrick and the silence of so many bishops who knew about him.

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.

May the Blessed Virgin Mary under the title of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, our Diocesan Patroness, and the Queen of the Apostles intercede for us in our time of need.

The Jefferson City diocese remains committed to combatting sexual abuse in the Church.

Nancy Hoey, victim assistance coordinator (VAC) for the diocese’s Office of Child and Youth Protection, can be reached at (573) 694-3199 or at .gro.1534305946yticf1534305946fejoi1534305946d@esu1534305946batro1534305946per1534305946

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