March 21, 2020
By Bishop Barry C. Knestout, Diocese of Richmond
I write directly to the brothers and sisters of St. Joseph and St. Francis of Assisi as your bishop, regarding the matter of your pastor, Father Mark White, which weighs heavy on my heart. For months, you may have read his written public communications or his words within the secular media. For months, I have chosen to remain silent in the hopes of remedying the situation internally. But, relying on the Holy Spirit, I feel a pressing need to address my concerns with you as members of this diocese entrusted to my care.
St. Ignatius of Antioch, “Doctor of Unity,” wrote: “Your excellent presbyters, who are a credit to God, are as suited to the bishop as strings to a harp. So, in your harmony of mind and heart the song you sing is Jesus Christ. Every one of you should form a choir, so that, in harmony of sound through harmony of hearts, and in unity taking the note from God, you may sing with one voice through Jesus Christ to the Father.”
Harmony. Unity. St. Ignatius deliberately selects these words when touching on the hierarchy, order and structure of the Church intended to protect the unity of Christ’s flock. As such, The Code of Canon Law indicates that Clergy have a special obligation to show reverence and obedience to the Holy Father and to their own bishop. All clerics are reminded that they are “working for the same purpose, namely the building up of the Body of Christ.” They are always to do their utmost to foster among God’s people peace and harmony based on justice.
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