Richmond Catholic Officials Silence Critical Priest, SNAP Responds

Despite speaking publicly about the need for transparency and honesty with the public, church officials have silenced a Virginia priest for running a blog in which he was critical of church decisions and their strategy to handle abuse cases. We call on this decision to be reversed and hope that parishioners in Virginia will add their voice to ours.

The church needs more priests like Fr. Mark White, a priest from the Diocese of Richmond who, until late last year, ran a blog in his spare time. Diocesan officials ordered Fr. White to stop blogging in late 2019, silencing the voice of one priest who was sticking his neck out by standing up for survivors and not being afraid to call out the inaction of church leadership. In a place where Fr. White’s leadership and example was sorely needed, church officials have again chosen the wrong position.

If anyone knows about the problems within the church, it’s someone like Fr. White who works within the church and was ordained by one of its most notorious figures, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. Fr. White should be looked to by church leaders for ideas, not punished for speaking out. To us, this decision only shows that church officials care more about their reputations than they do transparency or dialogue. 

It’s hard to imagine why this decision was made and what PR advice church officials received before making it. By silencing Fr. White, they have brought more attention to his writing. By threatening his job, they have galvanized his supporters. We hope that members of the public and parishioners at Fr. White’s church will write to Richmond church officials, expressing their disdain and dismay at this decision, and urging it to be reversed.

CONTACT: Becky Ianni, SNAP Virginia Leader (snapvirginia@cox.net, 703-801-6044), Zach Hiner, Executive Director (zhiner@snapnetwork.org, 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 SNAPnetwork.org)

 


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  • Mary Christian
    commented 2020-02-13 17:55:14 -0600
    I am a survivor. I was raped and sexually abused by my parish priest over 50 years ago in the Diocese of Trenton, NJ. I now live in the Diocese of Richmond. My healing began with the words and actions of Bishop Barry Knestout. If you researched Fr. Mark, you would know he has been blogging for many years and the more provocative the better. I will not judge his motives on this issue but over the years his blogs suggest he is someone seeking attention. If you support Fr. Mark, that is your right, but do not suggest he speaks for all victims. He does not speak for me. I joined S.N.A.P. when I still lived in New Jersey which means it was prior to 2006. If you truly believe that Fr. Mark is an appropriate advocate for victims, I will respectfully find another advocacy group and no longer recommend your group to others. I think if you researched Fr. Mark a little deeper, you would have learned that it is not about this one issue. If it was, he would be working alongside Bishop Barry in his advocacy for victims. I am upset that you are being unfair to Bishop Barry, who has been a caring and transparent shephard. I had great respect for your organization and if I didn’t live minutes from Fr. Mark, I would have believed your statement. It makes me question other things I have read on your sight.

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