March 19, 2020
By Bill Wyatt
A Martinsville priest has defied his bishop’s order to stop communicating online and resumed posting to a blog he made popular with his critical comments of the Catholic hierarchy’s handling of its sex abuse crisis.
Father Mark White, the priest of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Martinsville and St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Rocky Mount, in February received an order from Bishop Barry Knestout of the Diocese of Richmond to remove his blog completely and cease his online communication with more than a million visitors under threat of removal as a priest.
White complied initially, but then COVID-19 happened. In response to the pandemic and in keeping with the Gov. Ralph Northam’s orders that church assembly not include more than 10 people, Knestout issued a public letter earlier this week closing the doors to “public celebrations of Mass, on Sundays, holy days and weekdays in the Diocese of Richmond.” White’s parishes in Martinsville and Rocky Mount are assigned to the Richmond Diocese. Even Knestout is finding a need to expand his own use of online communications.
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