MARTINSVILLE, Va. (WFXR) — Father Mark White — a local priest who has been openly critical of the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church and was recently suspended — announced on his blog on Sunday that the locks were changed on two parishes and one residence to which he was assigned.
Back in February, Father White told reporters that he was ordered into silence by the Richmond Diocese Bishop Barry Knestout after he expressed criticism online of the church’s handling of sexual abuse cases.
However, by April, Father White announced the Richmond Diocese removed him as pastor from St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Rocky Mount and St. Joseph Parish in Martinsville. Father White’s parishioners stepped up to show their support for the priest amid his ongoing legal battle with the Richmond Diocese.
Within the last two weeks, Father White spoke with WFXR News about the Richmond Diocese’s efforts to reassign him as a prison chaplain — including attempting to remove him from his residence and redirecting his mail all the way to Abingdon, according to Father White — and Bishop Knestout’s announcement suspending Father White from practicing public Church ministry.
Father White has already submitted an appeal to the Vatican about his removal and he is continuing to fight the suspension.
“We can start over. It doesn’t have to be this way,” Father White wrote on his blog.
However, on Sunday, May 10, Father White announced that locksmiths — under the direction of a pastor from a neighboring parish — changed the locks for both parishes and one of the two residences to which Father White was assigned. Furthermore, Father White says the only reason he was not locked out of his Martinsville residence was the fact that he was already at the house when the locksmith arrived.
“So I live now with the daily fear that I will leave the premises to take care of something–like do some exercise, for example–and return to find that my key doesn’t work anymore,” Father White wrote.
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