(LifeSiteNews) — The Diocese of Knoxville, Tennessee is about to undergo a Vatican-ordered apostolic visitation following multiple complaints from diocesan priests and laypersons about Bishop Rick Stika’s leadership.
Bishops Barry Knestout of Richmond, Virginia and Michael Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia will conduct the visitation, according to a report by The Pillar
The wide-ranging list of allegations leveled against Stika includes impeding an investigation of a diocesan sexual abuse case, exposing high school students to an alleged homosexual predator, the use of intimidation and bullying tactics against priests and laity, financial improprieties, and attempting to implement the abortion-tainted OSHA COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all diocesan employees.
Cover-up of same-sex rape by seminarian
Earlier this year, a lawsuit was launched against Stika and the Knoxville diocese accusing the prelate of scheming to conceal “sexual misconduct and sexual abuse” allegedly perpetrated by former seminarian Wojciech Sobczuk, which “was meant to quiet and subdue complaints of sexual abuse and prevent valid legal filings.”
The organist, who filed under “John Doe” to protect his identity owing to the sensitive nature of the allegations, claims that Sobczuk raped him at his home in 2019 and “sexually harassed” him “on numerous occasions at the Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus in Knoxville, [Tennessee].”
Stika has been accused of turning the accusations of rape against the supposed victim in the case, having allegedly told “numerous individuals” that it was Doe who raped Sobczuk and not the other way around.
The lawsuit claims that Stika’s characterization of Doe as the assailant and Sobczuk as the victim of rape was “defamatory” and “exposed him to wrath, public hatred, contempt, and ridicule, and deprived him of the benefits of public confidence and social interaction.”
The Knoxville bishop raised suspicions when he abruptly fired an outside investigator appointed by the diocesan review board to look into the abuse scandal, replacing him with a new investigator who interviewed Sobczuk but did not speak to other credible witnesses.
Before coming to Knoxville, Sobczuk had been dismissed from a Jesuit novitiate program for sexual misconduct and later was dismissed from Ss. Cyril & Methodius Seminary in Orchard Lake, Michigan for the same reason.
Catholic high school students chaperoned seminarian accused of sexual misconduct
Despite the dismissals based on sexual misconduct, Sobczuk was allowed to chaperone Knoxville Catholic High School students as they traveled for several days and nights from Knoxville to Washington D.C. to participate in the national March for Life in January 2019.
Sobczuk was also allowed to teach music at Sacred Heart Cathedral School.
In July, a group of concerned lay members of the diocese produced a 175-page record of the scandal including supporting documents. Copies were sent to Louisville Archbishop Shelton J. Fabre, Apostolic Delegate to the United States Archbishop Christophe Pierre, and Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, Cardinal Marc Ouellet. The group also hand-delivered a copy to the chancery for Bishop Stika.
The group’s extensive report can be viewed here
A ‘depressed presbyterate’ under Stika’s leadership
In September 2021, 11 priests of the diocese wrote to Archbishop Pierre, saying that the issues with Sobczuk and Stika were part of a larger pattern of problematic leadership, according to The Pillar.
The letter painted a picture of priests suffering under Stika’s management of the diocese:
Our experience of our appointed bishop varies among us, but the undersigned do share a common awareness that the past twelve years of service under Bishop Stika have been, on the whole, detrimental to priestly fraternity and even to our personal well-being.
While we acknowledge the reality of suffering that comes with bearing our daily crosses, our appointed bishop seems determined to increase that suffering for his own purposes, purposes which seem unrelated to the demands of the Gospel.
“It seems to us that ours is a depressed presbyterate, and has been developing as such for 12 years, due to the leadership of Bishop Stika,” the priests said.
Liberal bishops around the world continue promoting heterodox views on homosexuality, female priests, divorce, contraception, and more — advancing anti-Catholic positions that jeopardize the salvation of souls.
Such bishops often sideline, ignore and even persecute traditional Catholics who simply ask that the Faith be preserved and passed on to their children.
But traditional Catholics cannot be silenced any longer, which is why we are uniting in this international boycott of modernist bishops and dioceses until the deposit of Faith is upheld by the hierarchy again.
SIGN: We will not fund modernist bishops or priests who undermine the Catholic Faith, but rather direct our contributions towards faithful clergy and orders that work for the salvation of souls.
There are countless examples of bishops working against Christ's Church in calling for divine law to be ignored in favor of sexual, doctrinal and liturgical deviancy, even trying to clamp down on Catholics who practise the Faith.
Just last year, Cardinal Cupich banned traditional prayers after Mass, and more recently has curtailed the Traditional Latin Mass in his diocese.
Cardinal Cupich has banned the Hail Mary and St Michael Prayer after Mass— Nick Donnelly (@ProtecttheFaith) August 27, 2021
Who but a devil would ban these prayers after Mass
The attack on the Faith is out in the open, with modernist bishops causing scandal in countless ways:
- Shutting down the Latin Mass in numerous parishes
- Rejecting the Church's teaching on sodomy
- Ignoring Vatican cover-ups of abuse by fellow bishops
- Celebrating LGBT Masses
- And so much more!
We have seen enough. Now is the time to show true Catholic unity against those who undermine the Faith - do not be bullied into submission by these men who would disfigure Christ's Church.
JOIN THE BOYCOTT & SHARE! Tell everyone you know to STOP giving money to bishops who attack the Catholic Faith.
"We therefore commit to a financial boycott of modernist bishops until the hierarchy resolves to uphold the entire deposit of Faith."
If the bishops refuse to uphold and protect the teaching of Christ's Bride, the Catholic Church, then we must refuse to support them until they repent.
P.S. — Demanding that liberal bishops be held to account through financial boycott will help save the Church from doctrinal and pastoral ruin. This is the first step in restoring the Faith for future generations. Our time is now, so please join us by signing today!
Photos: Pope Francis. Flickr. Long Thiên; Cardinal Cupich. Flickr. Goat_Girl; Collection Plate: Lisa F. Young/Shutterstock
Coercive diocesan COVID-19 vaccine mandate: a tipping point
In January, Stika sought to implement the OSHA COVID-vaccine mandate on all diocesan employees.
Employees were told that they “must be fully vaccinated no later than January 31, 2022 or submit proof of a negative COVID-19 test every seven days from a medical professional and wear a cloth face mask over his/her face and nose while at work.” Those who do not comply “will be subject to discipline up to and including termination.”
Jenny Hay, a member of the Knoxville diocese, said the issue of what amounts to a coercive vaccine mandate is important, since it violates conscience objections to abortion-tainted shots, infringes upon bodily autonomy, and is an affront to the freedom of diocesan employees.
“If I were somehow persuaded tomorrow that this was somehow ethical and safe, I wouldn’t take it now for the threat to freedom,” Hay told LifeSiteNews at the time. In this way, Hay said, the mandate “is a clear violation of Catholic doctrine, because it will have the effect of coercing some diocesan employees to receive a vaccination which they do not want.”
In the end, the diocese relented after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the OSHA vaccine mandate.
“I think this was a tipping point for many conservative Catholics in the diocese,” Hay told LifeSiteNews. “At least it was for me.”
“Prior to that point, I didn’t give much credence to rumors of impropriety. Along with many others, I thought Stika was a pretty good bishop,” she explained. “But when I saw that he was capable of forcing all employees to receive the COVID vaccine … that made me open to finding out the credibility of other accusations.”