Norfolk Catholic priest suspended for misconduct with minors

By Bridget Balch
Richmond Times-Dispatch
July 15, 2019

Bishop Barry C. Knestout kneels during the Mass of Atonement at Cathedral of the Sacred Heart on Friday Sept. 14, 2018. The mass was as a way to apologize and pray for the victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests.

The head of the Catholic Diocese of Richmond, Bishop Barry Knestout, on Friday suspended a Norfolk priest who was previously placed on a leave of absence due to violating the diocese’s code of conduct with minors, the diocese announced Saturday.

The priest, Joseph Metzger III, had been placed on temporary leave from his assignment as pastor of Blessed Sacrament parish in Norfolk in December due to previous violations of the code of conduct with minors. The Diocese of Richmond said the misconduct was not related to an accusation of sexual abuse.

On July 1, Metzger was given an assignment working in the diocese’s administrative offices and celebrating Mass at elderly housing facilities and communities for religious women in the Richmond area.

Four days later, on July 5, the diocese received an additional complaint against Metzger regarding a recent violation of the code of conduct with minors, according to a news release.

Following an inquiry into the complaint and a consultation with the Diocesan Review Board, a group of lay people that deliberate on misconduct against children, Knestout met with Metzger and suspended his priestly faculties. This means he can no longer present himself as a priest, wear clerical attire, administer sacraments, celebrate Mass publicly or have any interaction with minors or youth.

The diocese did not say what the nature of the misconduct was, apart from that it did not involve sexual abuse. The complaint was reported to law enforcement, according to the news release.

Metzger, who told the Richmond Diocese’s newspaper that he had wanted to become an OB-GYN physician before he decided to pursue the priesthood, has been a priest for nearly 28 years. He previously served as pastor at St. Theresa’s in Farmville and St. Bridget’s in Richmond.




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