Catholic Diocese of Richmond Announces Third-party Hotline for Reporting Ethical Misconduct

By C. Suarez Rojas
Richmond Times-Dispatch
July 2, 2019

Parishioners, employees, volunteers and clergy in the Catholic Diocese of Richmond have a new way to report suspected misconduct that isn’t sexual abuse.

As of Monday, the diocese has a third-party company, EthicsPoint, managing an anonymous hotline intended for people to report financial mismanagement or administrative issues in local churches, offices and schools in the diocese’s jurisdiction. The diocese covers most of the state.

The implementation of the new ethics hotline comes as the diocese is reckoning with its admission that approximately 50 of its priests have been credibly accused of sexually abusing children in incidents that took place between the 1950s and 2000s.

In a video announcing the hotline, Richmond Bishop Barry Knestout said the diocese hopes more people will feel encouraged to report misconduct, but that sexual abuse allegations should continue to be reported to law enforcement authorities and child protective service agencies before a caller contacts the diocese’s confidential sexual abuse hotline.

“We must uphold the commitments we have made and the legacy we have been handed in a fair and honorable manner. This includes reviewing existing policies and procedures and revising them in order to ensure that the diocese is providing the tools and environment needed to strengthen our Church, our communities and one another,” Knestout said in a letter to the church community.

A report from the National Catholic Reporter about fraud in churches published earlier this year quotes a Diocese of Richmond officer who said all of the diocese’s parishes are regularly audited and mandated to have procedures for money collection and accounting.

The article also mentions recent major embezzlement cases in the archdioceses of Philadelphia and Miami, and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri.

Knestout has declined to be interviewed by the Richmond Times-Dispatch at least four times since August, but has said in communications with parishioners that the diocese is committed to improving transparency.

The letter and a news release announcing the launch of the new hotline provide no information about whether incidents of unethical behavior in recent years caused diocese leaders to consider options for combating such problems.

“It’s something that’s been discussed for some time,” said Deborah Cox, communications director for the diocese. “This is something the bishop wanted to proceed with as a means to continue enhancing and adding another layer of accountability within the diocese.”

Those wishing to report suspected misconduct may call (844) 739-3210.








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