Bishop Stika of Knoxville says he wants to "tell the whole story;" SNAP responds
The leader of the Catholic Diocese of Knoxville recently told a reporter he wanted to "tell the whole story" behind a possible Vatican investigation into his conduct. We are skeptical that the prelate really wants the "whole story" to become public and are particularly troubled by the continued secrecy around the identity of a seminarian who the Bishop is accused of protecting.
In April of this year, allegations of administrative misconduct were reported to the Vatican concerning Bishop Rick Stika. The prelate will likely face an investigation under Vos estis lux mundi, which is meant to deal with prelates who engage in sexual abuse or misconduct or who cover it up.
The complaints against Bishop Stika stem from an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct with adults by a seminarian. The Bishop is said to be unusually close to the seminarian and to have interfered with the Church investigation into his conduct. The current whereabouts of this man are of great concern to us.
Bishop Stika interfered in the investigation of the accused seminarian in two ways. The leader of the Knoxville Diocese not only publicly proclaimed the seminarian's "innocence," he also removed the investigator brought on by the diocesan review board saying that the investigator was “asking too many questions.” His replacement has said that he did not interview anyone but the accused.
Parents and parishioners deserve to know the name and face of the accused to protect children and the vulnerable. Informed communities are safer communities, and Catholic bishops in this country have pledged to be open and transparent. That does not seem to be happening in Knoxville.
Tennessee SNAP Leader Susan Vance said, "For 19 years, survivors of child sexual abuse and adult sexual exploitation by clergy across Tennessee have stood up and tried to make their voices heard. They have been ignored and treated badly by bishops, priests, and nuns alike. Catholics have not believed survivors because of blind trust in these Church authorities. It seems to us that recent events in the Diocese of Knoxville proves how misplaced this trust is. This is a wake-up call to the entire state and a call to action for anyone who wants to know the truth."
We hope that anyone who has witnessed, suspected, or suffered abuse in Knoxville will come forward and make a report directly to law enforcement. Secular authorities are in the best position to unveil information the Diocese would like to remain secret.
CONTACT: Susan Vance, SNAP Tennessee ( 865-748-3518, [email protected]), Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager (267-261-0578, [email protected]), Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director (517-974-9009, [email protected])