MARTINSVILLE, Virginia — A Catholic priest in Virginia has been suspended of all priestly duties from the two parishes he leads in southwestern Virginia.
The suspension is the latest development in the ongoing dispute between Father Mark White and the Bishop of Richmond. White had maintained a well-known blog that was critical of the church’s handling of the sexual abuse scandal.
The Martinsville Bulletin reports that Bishop Barry Knestout announced the suspension on Wednesday. It means that White is prohibited from practicing ministry, including the public celebration of the sacraments.
White is the priest at St. Joseph’s in Martinsville and St. Francis of Assisi in Rocky Mount. The bishop’s release said that White retains the title of pastor, “but any responsibilities or public duties associated with the title are suspended.”
Under canon law, White can keep his title while seeking recourse.
Last month, Knestout said he was removing White and transferring him to a prison ministry role. But the next day, White said he was not leaving his post and hired a canonical lawyer to defend his position.
Knestout said Wednesday that he has a “responsibility to ensure all ministries within the diocese work to unify and build the Body of Christ, not cause further discord.”