Priest Critical of Catholic Church’s Handling of Sex Abuse Remains Defiant, SNAP Stands in Support of Fr. Mark White

Despite being a popular pastor who heads two parishes in the Diocese of Richmond, Fr. Mark White has been ordered by the Vatican and his Bishop, Barry Knestout, to cease writing his personal blog if he wants to remain a priest. Still, Fr. White is choosing to stand by his principles and beliefs rather than bow to pressure from Catholic officials. We applaud his bravery and stand with him as he speaks out for what is right.

This case is a painful reminder that concerned Catholics need to set up their own, independent whistleblower funds to support brave witnesses and whistleblowers who are hurt by the hierarchy. It is clear to us that, despite the Vatican’s recently created whistleblower policy, church officials are still willing to tamp down on any dissent or disobedience. 

Fr. White’s situation makes it plain that, if you are a priest you can’t speak out against the Catholic Church or their policies without being silenced. Now, think about how this punishment translates to a cleric who would report their bishop or another clergyman who is abusing children or covering up that abuse?  To us, the message is clear: silence is golden.

This is exactly the opposite of what Catholic hierarchs have been talking about for years, but actions speak louder than words. By punishing Fr. White and removing him from his positions. Bishop Knestout shows that he cares more about obeying orders than he does about doing the right thing. We worry about what this means for victims, witnesses, and whistleblowers in the Diocese of Richmond.

Now that Fr. White has lost his appeal, we hope that his flock will pick up where he was forced to stop: taking steps to end the silence, promote safety, and bring healing.

CONTACT: Becky Ianni, SNAP Virginia Leader ([email protected], 703-801-6044), Dottie Klammer, SNAP Richmond ([email protected], 804-347-9974), Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009)

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is

SNAP Network is a GuideStar Gold Participant