Given the recent media attention to the lawsuit filed against the Diocese and one of its diocesan elementary schools, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades would like to issue the following statement in response to concerns raised about the pastoral role of priests. The diocese will not argue this case in the media or in the court of public opinion. This statement is meant to clarify what appears to be a serious misunderstanding regarding the pastoral obligations of priests.
The Church and her priests include in their proclamation of the Gospel Jesus’ call to conversion. It is the task of priests, following the example of Christ, to be instruments of Christ’s love and mercy. This includes at times correction, since sinful behavior not only offends God, but also harms the individual and the community. While sometimes difficult and delicate, priests are expected always to speak the truth in charity. Priests are required to clearly affirm the truths of our faith, and to speak honestly about what these truths mean for our lives and what we owe to others. It is also clear that priests must convey these truths in a respectful and loving manner consistent with the intrinsic, inestimable worth of every human person.
Let there be no mistake — this obligation to speak truth in charity is affirmed by the Church, the Bishop, the diocese, and Monsignor Kuzmich. Indeed, Monsignor Kuzmich’s record of exemplary pastoral ministry as a priest of this diocese for nearly 47 years has been a model of truth in charity. The Bishop asks for continued prayers for Monsignor Kuzmich, the community of Saint Vincent de Paul Parish and School, and also for the plaintiff in this case.