VA prelate backed Protestant bishop's consecration inside Catholic church
by Michael Hichborn • ChurchMilitant.com • January 27, 2020
Michael Hichborn, founder and president of The Lepanto Institute, last week published an open letter to Bp. Barry Knestout of Richmond, Virginia, challenging the bishop's support for consecration of a female Episcopal "bishop," scheduled for Feb. 1 at St. Bede Catholic Church in Williamsburg. Owing to outcry from faithful Catholics, the ceremony was moved from St. Bede to a Protestant chapel, after which Bp. Knestout publicly voiced "great sadness" over the cancellation. Concerned Catholics are invited to sign the letter at The Lepanto Institute's website. Once 1,000 signatures are reached, the letter will be delivered to the Richmond chancery.
I write to you on behalf of Catholic Virginians all across the commonwealth to express our confusion over your recent actions and words pertaining to the event which was scheduled to take place at St. Bede Catholic Church in Williamsburg on Feb. 1, 2020.
I am writing to you in the spirit of canon 212 of the Code of Canon Law, which affords the faithful the right "to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful."
But more to the point, I am writing with the sincere hope that you can help us to understand, through the teaching ministry of your office, how what was scheduled to take place would have been permitted under canon law, and how it would not have constituted a sacrilege.
In trying to understand, I will break down our concerns into four basic topics, and I hope that you will address each one for the education and edification of the faithful of the diocese of Richmond and beyond.
- Ordination, Consecration, Installation and Bishop
In both of your letters dated Jan. 15, 2020 and Jan. 17, 2020, you referred to the event scheduled to take place at St. Bede Catholic Church on Feb. 1, 2020 as an "ordination," an "installation," and even a "consecration" of a women [sic] who you referred to as "bishop-elect." Your use of this language is deeply confusing to Catholics because the ordination, consecration and installation of a bishop is a reference to the Sacrament of Holy Orders in the Catholic Church. However, Pope Leo XIII declared in his Papal Bull Apostolicae Curae, "We pronounce and declare that ordinations carried out according to the Anglican rite have been, and are, absolutely null and utterly void." By this declaration alone, even if what was scheduled to be attempted was done on a man rather than a women [sic], it still would not have been an ordination or consecration.