Priests of the Knoxville diocese asked a papal representative last year for “merciful relief” from the leadership of Bishop Rick Stika. More than six months later, they have received no response to their request, and there has not been any conclusion to a Vatican investigation into Stika’s leadership.
“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.”
This isn’t normal in an episcopal type of church government, even with the mediocre quality of bishops we have these days. I wrote about Stika’s profligate ways last year, both fiscally and otherwise. At the time I noted the following:
This is a key issue for Ultramontane Roman Catholicism in general. When bad things happen, there are few places to turn because the famous Catholic penchant for subsidarity isn’t reflected in their own structure. The result is that bishops and parish priests can become “little Caesars” with limited accountability to those whom they’re supposedly serving–the people of God.
That’s certainly playing out here. Getting “redress of grievances” in a system like this is difficult at best, especially with the current Occupant of the See of Peter being the “biggest little Caesar” of them all.
Personal note: I have a friend who is active in the Knights of Columbus. His council (and a few others) still have their own council buildings. The Diocese has expressed an interest in taking this and moving them to diocesan venues, but he and his fellow knights know better. Truly “worthy knights” indeed.