Most Rev. Richard F. Stika, Bishop of Knoxville, Tennessee (JwoganDOK)
CV NEWS FEED // Bishop Richard Stika of the Diocese of Knoxville, Tennessee, has resigned from his 14-year episcopacy following years of controversy and criticism of his handling of clergy sex abuse scandals.
In 2022, 11 priests from the diocese wrote to the Vatican’s U.S. representative, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, calling for Stika’s removal. Six other diocesan priests told the National Catholic Reporter that Stika intimidated those who opposed him and frequently retaliated against priests who questioned him or spoke about him to the media, threatening “canonical consequences.”
Two individuals in the diocese of Knoxville also filed lawsuits against the diocese.
In 2022, a church organist sued the diocese, claiming he was raped by a gay seminarian and accusing Stika of covering up the assault. Later that year, a woman claimed she was sexually assaulted by a priest, and also filed a lawsuit.
Stika denied all the claims. However, at the end of 2022, an apostolic inspection was carried out. In his official letter of resignation, Stika cited health problems as his reason for retirement. The Vatican did not give a reason for Stika’s removal.
Stika, who is ten years younger than the required retirement age for bishops, was ordained in 1985 and was archdiocesan chancellor from 1994 to 2004. During that decade, he worked closely with the archbishop at the time, Justin Rigali. After Rigali was made a cardinal in 2003 and served as a papal advisor for the nomination of bishops, Stika was named as bishop of Knoxville in 2009.