After being removed from post for speaking out against abuse, Martinsville Catholic priest takes his fight to DC

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WASHINGTON (WFXR) — Father Mark White was in Washington, D.C. Friday, protesting outside the Catholic Church’s embassy, and he was not alone. Dozens of his congregants drove up from Rocky Mount and Martinsville with him.

“It’s sad to have to be here,” said White, “but I’m very much heartened and encouraged by all the people that are here with me and the solidarity with the victims of sexual abuse that everyone here is trying to express.”

White is the Catholic priest in Rocky Mount and Martinsville who was removed from his post and reassigned as a prison chaplain, because he refused to take down his blog. In that blog, he was frequently critical of the Catholic Church’s cover up of sexual abuse.

“We want Father Mark back so he can be able to keep what he was doing,” said Diana Aguirre, who came up from Martinsville with eight of her family members to support their priest. “He doesn’t deserve this.”

The Vatican denied White’s appeal to stay with his congregation.

“It was, in my opinion, very inappropriate to reject it the way they did,” said Judy Rogers, a Roanoke resident who attends mass at White’s church in Rocky Mount. “We believe it deserves to be reheard in a fair, honest, and true manner in accordance with all the canon laws.”

Now, White says Bishop Barry Knestout of the Diocese of Richmond isn’t letting him serve as a prison chaplain either, because he hasn’t given up his blog.

“I tried to point out to him that’s against what canon law itself says,” said White, “it’s against what the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says.”

However, his fight isn’t over.

“I’m still hoping for maybe a chance to talk to somebody today.”

White says if this appeal doesn’t work, their next protest is at the Vatican.

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