CONTROVERSIAL MISSOURI BISHOP RESIGNS

Controversial Missouri Bishop Resigns

Bp. John Gaydos pushed LGBT agenda in Jefferson City diocese

by Anita Carey • ChurchMilitant • November 22, 2017

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – After a passionate battle over Bp. John Gaydos’ commitment to a pro-gay policy, Catholics are hopeful for the diocese’s vitality with the appointment of a new bishop.

Announced Tuesday by Abp. Christophe Pierre, the apostolic nuncio to the United States, Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Bp. John Gaydos — one year earlier than the mandatory retirement age of 75.

“Many of you may be surprised by the timing of the appointment of our new bishop,” Bp. Gaydos said at a press conference on Tuesday. “I am extremely grateful and relieved and I would like to take a moment to assure you that this announcement comes at the end of several months of prayer, reflection and consultation.”

During Tuesday’s press conference, Bp. Gaydos spoke of several “health challenges that seem to be attributable to aging and genetic traits” and will be facing a major surgery to repair a leaky aortic valve.

Bishop Gaydos said, “In prayer, I brought to God the fact that I was turning 74 this past August and that I simply did not have the strength and stamina of even a few years ago,” adding, “I also thought that our diocese would benefit greatly from a new bishop.”

Archbishop Pierre announced that Fr. Shawn McKnight, pastor of the Church of the Magdalen, in the diocese of Witchita would be elevated to bishop and will be installed as the fifth bishop of the diocese and the first to be appointed from outside Missouri.

Church Militant spoke with a source close to the diocese about the announcement, who said, “It’s a welcome thing. Bishop Gaydos has been fairly liberal.”

In May, Bp. Gaydos spearheaded A Pastoral Process of Accompaniment and Dialogue, a new policy that pushes administrators to admit students from same-sex parenting homes into Catholic schools, without the parents having to sign a statement promising to respect Catholic teachings.

The backlash from priests, parents and teachers was immediate. A source very close to the events shared with Church Militant that Bp. Gaydos had been abandoned by his diocese, saying, “The only person left defending this policy is the bishop himself. Everyone who was involved in its development has sought to distance themselves from it.”

Just before the start of the school year, the diocese’s flagship school, St. Joseph Cathedral School, updated their handbook to reject the policy, stating, “Students may not advocate, celebrate or express same-sex attraction.”

In October, a number of faithful Catholics rallied outside St. Joseph Cathedral where Bp. Gaydos was celebrating the closing Mass for the Missouri Catholic Conference. The Rosary vigil was organized as an appeal to the bishop to “Stop the Process” and to end the push to accommodate active homosexuality. During the rally, a diocesan staff member, Jay Nies, lashed out at the protesters saying, “He doesn’t hear you!”

When asked about the hopes for the new bishop, the source replied, “I hope he will be responsive. The Witchita diocese has orthodox leadership, and they have lots of vocations.”

Church Militant reached out to Jesse Barton, a teacher and parent in the diocese, who spoke to us in May when the pro-gay policy was announced. Barton noted that Bp.-elect McKnight “has worked in the Vatican and specializes in vocations,” adding, “Bishop Gaydos has presided over the largest collapse in vocations, maybe, in the history of the conciliar Church,” Barton said. “In the next five years, our diocese will lose 33 percent of its priests.”

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