Priest with blog critical of Church’s abuse handling removed

Priest with blog critical of Church’s abuse handling removed

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A priest in Virginia was removed from his post after maintaining a blog critical of the Catholic Church’s handling of the sexual abuse scandal.

RICHMOND, Virginia — A priest in Virginia was removed from his post after maintaining a blog critical of the Catholic Church’s handling of the sexual abuse scandal.

Father Mark White, whose blog reaches more than 1 million readers, was removed on Monday, news outlets reported. He served as the priest of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Martinsville and St. Francis of Assisi in Rocky Mount.

White has since been reassigned as chaplain to different state and federal prisons within the dioceses, the Diocese of Richmond said in a news release Monday.

His removal as the head of these two churches follows a months-long dispute with Bishop Barry Knestout, the head of the Diocese of Richmond, and other church officials over the blog.

The Martinsville Bulletin reported White had initially stopped his blog posts after church officials told him in February it could lead to his removal. But once the coronavirus pandemic led to a suspension of Mass services at his churches, White said he was “duty-bound to use my blog as an avenue of pastoral communication” and brought back the blog.

White said the diocese did not respond to a message he sent asking them to remove their threat of firing him over his blog posts.

In March, Knestout wrote a public letter addressed to White’s congregants that accused him of promoting division and disrespect within the church. White’s responsibilities have been handed over to another priest until a replacement can be named.

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