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Bishop Shawn

JEFFERSON CITY, Missouri, August 7, 2018, (LifeSiteNews) – A newly-minted U.S. bishop has pledged to “change the culture among clergy” and “rebuild trust” with the laity in reaction to the ex-Cardinal McCarrick sexual abuse scandal. 

Bishop of Jefferson City, Missouri, the Most Rev. W. Shawn McKnight, S.T.D., issued a statement to his diocese which in a few words expresses the strong, if not visceral, reaction experienced by many lay people, but which has been mostly absent in the trickle of statements by other more seasoned U.S. cardinals and bishops.

“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,” began Bishop McKnight.  

“It is almost unbearable,’ he said. “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,” he continued.  “This cannot continue, and I hope with God’s grace there will be a change of culture among the clergy.” 

Bishop McKnight’s predecessor had lost the trust of many faithful Catholics in the diocese by pushing the LGBT agenda into diocesan schools. Pro-family leaders have argued that the LGBT movement attacks and corrupts children with a sexual ideology contrary to God’s plan for humanity. 

Last year, former Jefferson City Bishop John Gaydos defended a proposed plan to allow transgender-identifying students to register in diocesan schools, insisting to priests in an internal memo that it promotes Catholic moral teaching. He dismissed opposition and subsequent media reporting as “public furor” coming from “outside our diocese.” He also called the pushback “falsehoods” and a “misinformation campaign.”

His policy aimed to allow students who identify as “transgender” or “LGBTQ” or who live with same-sex couples to attend its schools. 

A draft version of the policy stated that administrators in the diocese were “looking carefully and deeply at the question of human sexuality and the development of the human person in the light of students who identify as LGBTQ, students being raised by same-sex parents and those in non-traditional marriage.”

The proposed diocesan plan caused significant controversy among members of the diocese. They charged that it was covertly drafted by members of diocesan leadership, parts of it conflicted with Church teaching, and that it embraced gender ideology and immoral sexual behavior. Critics also say it would put children in diocesan schools at risk.

Catholic families in the diocese were upset as well that no parents or pastors with parish schools were consulted in crafting the “Pastoral Process of Accompaniment and Dialogue.”