Much to think and pray about

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

I hope and pray that you are enjoying these last days of summer and early fall. I am not looking forward to the winter cold and snow.

Most of our children have returned to school and college. Football has begun again (and by the way, Briar Cliff University, all our Catholic high schools, and of course, the Denver Broncos, are going to do fine this season).

Our seminarians are also beginning classes again. Please pray for them and for a deeper faith in these difficult times for the church.

The Priests Council begins to meet again, and our Clergy Days for Priests and Deacons have been scheduled. I look forward to our upcoming presentation to be given by Msgr. Ross Shecterle from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee entitled “Healthy, Holy Priests with Busy, Hectic Lives.”

As I mention our priests, seminarians and deacons, I want to thank the faithful of the Diocese of Sioux City who have offered support, prayers and encouragement to them and to myself. We all know that our beloved Catholic Church is undergoing a purification, and hopefully, a renewal. The news of the Archbishop Theodore McCarrick scandal, the grand jury report in Pennsylvania and the recent “Testimony” of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganó have given us much to think about and to pray about.

Let me say this about the “Testimony.” In having read carefully the 11-page Testimony of Archbishop Viganó, I support and echo Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, in his statement of Aug. 27, in which he stated, “The recent letter of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganó brings particular focus and urgency to this examination. The questions raised deserve answers that are conclusive and based on evidence. Without those answers, innocent men may be tainted by false accusation and the guilty may be left to repeat sins of the past.”

I believe Archbishop Viganó and, at the same time, we need more information.

In the matter of transparency in disciplining bishops, no one is above the law; and no bishop, regardless of diocese or rank or standing, may hope to evade the full and exacting moral law of our Lord Jesus Christ and the canonical laws of the church in the exercise of our duties. Therefore, let the harsh light of truth come, with its healing and freeing power.

Moreover, while renewing my respect for our Holy Father, Pope Francis, I join the greater part of my brother bishops in supplicating the Holy Father to make a clearer and fuller answer to the Testimony. My unshakeable loyalty to the Chair of St. Peter prompts me to beg its current occupant, Pope Francis, to undertake the necessary examination for the truth and to lead us courageously. This examination must happen for the church to heal and move forward, and it undoubtedly will happen, if not with our cooperation, then in spite of any attempts to avoid it. We bishops must be open to the truth and accept justice for our misconduct, if any be found.

Finally, to all the faithful, especially here in the Diocese of Sioux City, I repeat my entreaties in my Catholic Globe letter of Aug. 23.  Above all, I encourage everyone to make special efforts to pray, fast, and not give up hope in the salvation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Your brother in Christ,

Most Reverend R. Walker Nickless

Bishop of Sioux City

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