Embattled Tennessee bishop resigns after priest complaints, abuse-related lawsuits

by | Jun 27, 2023 | Religion

VATICAN CITY (AP) — The bishop of Knoxville, Tennessee, resigned under pressure Tuesday (June 27) following allegations he mishandled sex abuse allegations and several of his priests complained about his leadership and behavior, sparking a Vatican investigation.Pope Francis accepted Bishop Richard Stika’s resignation, according to a one-line statement from the Vatican. At 65, Stika is still 10 years below the normal retirement age for bishops.
The archbishop of Louisville, Kentucky, the Most Reverend Shelton Fabre, was named temporary administrator to run the diocese until a new bishop is installed.
Stika’s departure, after 14 years as bishop of Knoxville, closes a turbulent chapter for the southern U.S. diocese that was marked by a remarkable revolt by some of its priests, who accused Stika of abusing his authority and protecting a seminarian accused of sexual misconduct. They appealed to the Vatican for “merciful relief” in 2021, citing their own mental health, sparking a Vatican investigation that led to Stika’s resignation.
In media interviews, Stika strongly defended his actions and his leadership and said he worked to bring unity in the diocese.
In a statement Tuesday, Stika cited “life-threatening health issues” as part of the reason for his resignation. He listed diabetes, heart problems and neuropathy, among other issues, though he also said the …

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