Guest Post: Miss Kaitlyn Long

Knestout White Kaitlyn Long

Title: Guest Post: Miss Kaitlyn Long

Author: Kaitlyn A. Long

Publisher: Father Mark White blog

Date: 11MAY2020

To his Excellency Archbishop Lori of the Archdiocese of Baltimore,  his Excellency Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio of the United States, and to anyone whom it may concern,

I am a 22-year-old parishioner at Saint Francis of Assisi parish in Rocky Mount, Virginia, who was joyfully brought into full communion with the Catholic Church when I was 14 years old, on Easter Vigil in 2012. Father Mark White was the primary pastor of my church and my primary spiritual father in the majority of my formative years as a new Catholic.

In light of the recent suspension of Father Mark White from public ministry and Bishop Barry Knestout’s attempt to lock Father Mark White out of his residence (despite Can. 1333 §3.2 explicitly stating that prohibition from public ministry “never” affects the right of residence), I am deeply concerned about the abuse of power and disregard of Canon law that Bishop Barry Knestout has exhibited.

I want to express this concern to those who have authority over Bishop Knestout.

Since the Diocese announced Fr. Mark’s “effective-immediately” relocation to prison ministry during the week following Easter–which under Canon Law cannot be carried out until the case is finished being heard in Rome–Father Mark White’s public response has been nothing but gracious and respectful to both the institution of the Church, as well as to Bishop Barry Knestout himself.

Nothing has “escalated” in terms of Father Mark’s initial alleged “intemperance,” as cited by Bishop in the February 5th meeting between the two men. Instead, Father’s writings call for peace and a turn to the Lord, saying “I want only good communication, compromise, peace, and a return to some semblance of our normal parish life here. This is what I hope and pray for,” and “Let’s cling to the Lord Jesus. He came into the world as light, to dispel the darkness. He came to save the sinful world. He will lead us to better days, one little step at a time.

There has been, however, an escalation in the passionate feelings of parishioners and the surrounding community towards Bishop Barry Knestout. This passion has been in direct response to the perceived insensitivity towards the feelings of the communities in Rocky Mount and Martinsville, and the literal disregard of canon law that Bishop Barry Knestout has demonstrated in the past few weeks.

Several of my fellow parishioners and myself perceive the suspension of Father Mark White, as well as the re-keying of both parish buildings, to be a “punishment” for the discontented passion demonstrated by parishioners at both parishes. Bishop Knestout cited his concern for “the ecclesiastical communion of the faithful at the parishes of St. Joseph in Martinsville and Saint Francis of Assisi in Rocky Mount.” But love, and criticism of someone’s–even church leaders’–actions, are not mutually exclusive.

First, let me explain the hurt I have felt because of the actions of church leaders regarding the church abuse scandal. I am a teacher, and I will use an analogy to explain my uneasiness.

When a student cheats on their work twice, I am more likely to check their work going forward.  If I asked the student if I could see their work and the student started freaking out, refusing to let me see, I would become even more suspicious.

This is an analogy for what, in my personal experience, many of the average church laypeople are seeing from the outside. Did that kid, the church, cheat on their test? I do not know because they did not let me see their paper. However, one thing is for sure, I really do not trust that kid because–Guess what? He cheated twice already. Twice.

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