Bishop W. Shawn McKnight directed that the following letter be read from the pulpit at all Sunday Masses Aug. 18-19 in the Diocese of Jefferson City:
Dear Faithful and Clergy of the Diocese,
“Watch carefully how you live, not as foolish persons but as wise, making the most of the opportunity, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15)
With the Grand Jury Report from Pennsylvania this past week, I feel it is necessary to follow up with you as soon as possible on my statement of the previous week regarding the continuing revelations about the abuse of power by Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, the former Cardinal Archbishop of Washington, D.C.
What we are witnessing is not simply the sexual immorality of certain deacons, priests and bishops, but more egregiously their abuse of power. The sexual abuse of a minor or the sexual abuse of a vulnerable adult are not only sins against the Sixth Commandment, but in fact fall under the Fifth Commandment of “Thou shalt not kill.”
What is clear from the McCarrick scandal and the tragedy of the Pennsylvania grand jury reports is that some of my brother bishops, going all the way to the Vatican, failed in their obligation to protect the people of God.
In shuttling an abuser cleric from one parish to another (or in the case of former Cardinal McCarrick, a series of inexplicable promotions up the hierarchical ladder), bishops continued a pattern of abuse. Seeing an abusive cleric promoted in the public eye further victimizes the abused.
The Church is not just the hierarchy. I want to work with you on this most important issue facing the Church now. Please know I am committed to transparency, the promotion of greater healing of the whole Church, and to revising how we address the sin of abuse.
I will keep you apprised of our situation as a local Church as we move forward together.
One thing for sure: we will be a different Church. We are in this together. Let us entrust our diocese and the Universal Church to the protection of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. I am
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Shawn McKnight
Bishop of Jefferson City