One month after a former Jackson priest, Cardinal Bernard Law, stepped down from his position in the Catholic Church the man who has led the Jackson Diocese for the past two decades is resigning. Bishop William Houck says his resignation is not related to Cardinal Law’s. However, the two catholic leaders are both named in the same two lawsuits involving the church abuse scandal.
Bishop Houck says his age is the only reason he is leaving. Bishop Houck announced his resignation to church members during mass at St. Peters Cathedral in Jackson. Houck says, as required by the Vatican, he submitted his resignation almost two years ago at age 75. The pope has just now accepted his request.
Yolanda Griffin-Clark, a local Catholic, says, “He has always been supportive of me and remembered me and I will miss him.”
Bishop Houck also introduced his replacement, Monsignor Joseph Latino, who is coming from the Houma-Thibodaux Diocese in Louisiana.
Sister Clarissa Rose, a Catholic nun, says, “Sometimes you need to get new blood. Bishop Houck has done a good job here. We’re looking forward to working with Bishop Latino.”
Bishop-designate Latino recognizes that he is facing challenges in the Jackson Diocese, which has been sued for $75 million by men accusing the diocese of covering up sexual abuse committed by priests.
Latino says, “I don’t see this as a doomsday for the church. I think the church is going to grab it’s bootstraps and come through this battle.”
Bishop Houck agrees, “While we acknowledge the evils of sex abuse and difficulties, I also in my life keep in focus that this is a small part of the overall life of our church.”
And Houck says it’s the good things he hopes people will remember him for, as well as the contributions he has made to his diocese and the Catholic Church.
Latino will be ordained Bishop on March 7.
Bishop Houck is moving to Chicago where he will serve as president of the Catholic Church Extension Society.