Young Bishops: Laity Must Investigate Bad Bishops

News: Commentary
by Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th.  •  •  June 11, 2019   

Bp. McKnight: 'Laity are the only ones who can keep the hierarchy accountable'

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As bishops meet this week in Baltimore, younger bishops are fighting for greater lay involvement in conducting truly independent investigations of bad bishops like Theodore McCarrick.

Laity and younger bishops like Bp. Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas and Bp. Shawn McKnight of Jefferson City, Missouri view lay involvement as a crucial aspect of carrying out truly transparent investigations that hold complicit bishops accountable for their roles in perpetrating or covering up clerical sex abuse.

"As we approach the Baltimore meeting of bishops I share what I have heard from my flock," Bp. Strickland tweeted on Friday. "'Bishop please do all you can to ensure that a strong lay voice is part of the norms and that laity have a significant role in the investigation & cleanup of this scandal' I will do so!"


Younger bishops during their general assembly last November were pushing for laity to be assigned leading roles in redressing the crisis of homoclericalism. As compromised prelates like Cdl. Donald Wuerl, former archbishop of Washington, have been pushing for bishops to investigate themselves, Bp. McKnight was speaking up for greater lay involvement in the investigative process.

"The one overarching thing I want all of us to remember is, of course, the necessity of the laity in helping us get out of this mess," said McKnight. "I think we all believe that. We all talk about it. But unfortunately, in concrete structures, we don't actually do it."

Shortly after the U.S. bishops' fall assembly, McKnight came out even stronger on this same point in a letter he penned Nov. 16.
"The laity are the only ones who can keep the hierarchy accountable and get us out of the mess we bishops got ourselves into," emphasized McKnight. "My singular focus throughout the Baltimore meeting was to advocate and push for greater public involvement of the laity at all levels of the Church."
Watch the panel discuss the need for independent and transparent investigations of bad bishops in The Download—Bishops in Baltimore.


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