Bishop Barry Knestout, an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Washington, has been chosen by Pope Francis to succeed Bishop Francis DiLorenzo as Bishop of Richmond. The latter died this past August. The online version of the Catholic Standard already has a write-up of this appointment. In it is a congratulatory statement by Cardinal Wuerl, who talks of "our close association in ministry". Well there certainly was close association.
Again I call to memory what happened in my own parish within the Archdiocese of Washington in Lent of 2012. Father Marcel Guarnizo denied Holy Communion to an avowed lesbian and was promptly ejected from the Archdiocese of Washington. There is no doubt that Cardinal Wuerl ordered that expulsion, with Bishop Knestout functioning as the proverbial hatchet man. Of course I and many others raised an outcry against this blatant miscarriage of justice and lack of fidelity to Church teaching that was evinced by the chancery. Four years later, when the pastor of a neighboring pastor fired his parish's sodomite music minister, Bishop Knestout supported that pastor. Had he not had reason to anticipate our vigilance, who knows how he would have acted?
This appointment is no surprise. Cardinal Wuerl is a member of the Vatican's Congregation for Bishops. He most likely is assisting the pope in selection of progressive bishops to "stack the deck" as it were. He certainly had an ideal candidate in Knestout; plus, what better way to reward an obviously loyal underling?
While such a move was inevitable, it still is lamentable. The only silver lining to this cloud is that he is no longer here. Pray for him, though, that he might realize his calling and be a faithful bishop. While I regret his promotion, I'm not sorry to see him go.
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