Priest says losing post won’t make him “shut up” about sexual abuse cover-ups

Local News

ROCKY MOUNT, Va. (WFXR) — Father Mark White says the Catholic Diocese of Richmond is trying to remove him from his residence and has redirected his mail two and a half hours away to Abingdon.

He says it’s part of an effort to remove him from his post as the pastor of St. Francis of Assisi in Rocky Mount and St. Joseph in Martinsville and reassign him as a prison chaplain.

“I don’t want this to be about ‘poor Father Mark who the Bishop is trying to browbeat into submission,'” he said.

For him, it’s about justice. He says in the 18 years since the Boston Globe’s reporting on child sex abuse in the Catholic Church, not much has changed.

“There are a lot of victims prior to that Boston Globe expose who have never really gotten any kind of justice,” says White, “whose stories have not been honestly listened to by the authorities, and they haven’t been treated with the kind of respect, and their desire for some kind of justice honored the way that they should have.”

White says the Diocese of Richmond took issue with his blog. White has used the blog, in part, to criticize the church’s handling of sexual abuse claims.

Earlier this year, he took the blog down as directed by the Diocese, but says he recently re-started the blog to help people deal with coronavirus. Soon afterwards, the Diocese reassigned him. White says he is appealing the decision.

White’s blog was critical of the very man who ordained him as a priest: former cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

Reporting in 2018 detailed a decades-long pattern of McCarrick abusing minors, and White wants answers.

“Full disclosure when it comes to who knew about Theodore McCarrick, when they knew it, and what did they do or not do about it.”

He knows where his advocacy could end.

“The bishop has threatened me to initiate the process of having me removed from the priesthood altogether, which would mean I couldn’t serve as a chaplain and I would lose my retirement and all that.”

He wants the church to be transparent and says being reassigned as a prison chaplain won’t make him “shut up.”

“Can we get what we call a McCarrick report? Can the church produce honesty about a 30 year cover up? I hope she can, and I want to be a part of that happening.”

WFXR reached out to the Diocese for comment but did not receive a reply.

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