Gulag Dispatch #4: Residence Update + Seeing Each Other

Cool Hand Luke in leg irons

Seventeen days ago, the bishop issued a decree prohibiting me from exercising priestly ministry. This decree has no apparent legal basis. Nonetheless, I must obey it, pending its appeal. Which will take some months, apparently.

As I mentioned two weeks ago, my canon lawyer and I notified the bishop that I intended to obey the prohibition, while we wait for the Vatican to act on the case. I told the temporary administrator of the parishes: I will maintain my normal routine of half-week residence in both towns, but I have no intention of interfering with your work.

The following day, the administrator handed me a no-trespass order for the church properties, including the two residences. Then he had the locks re-keyed.

I can only regard this as an act of violence against my person. It has taken me a couple weeks to recover from the shock. And I still have to contend with the danger of further thuggish bullying of this kind.

That said, the administrator’s attempt to lock me out of the properties has basically failed.

As things stand today, I continue my normal routine of half-week residence in the two rectories. Church law clearly accords me the right to do so, while we wait for the final disposition of my appeals of the bishop’s decrees 1. removing me as pastor, and 2. suspending my ministry.

Fra Angelico ordination

I miss everyone in the parishes a lot. All of us have had a difficult spring. Once-in-a-lifetime difficult. I know it will comfort me just to see the faces of the people I have missed for so long.

I will stand at the entrance to the parish property prior to all the Masses this weekend, to say hello. I will make a habit of doing this every weekend.

Also, we will have an opportunity to celebrate the anniversary of my ordination with a drive-thru party, at St. Joseph’s in Martinsville tomorrow afternoon, 4:00-6:00pm.

Look forward to seeing you, if you decide to make the trip to church this weekend. Or before Mass sometime soon. I very much appreciate your love and prayers. Count on mine for you.

10 thoughts on “Gulag Dispatch #4: Residence Update + Seeing Each Other

  1. God bless you and protect you Fr. Mark. It will be a blessing to receive your greeting.

  2. For an outsider’s (“I don’t have a dog in this particular fight”) perspective on the “act of violence” against Mark’s person, read “Father Mark White and the Streisand Effect” by Ben R. Williams, in the Henry County Enterprise.
    Ann White

  3. Father that is so good to hear! To see your face and hear your voice will be an immeasurable comfort.
    Prayers continue daily and am also supported w/prayers for you from my older sister in FL. She is busy reading the material supplied and was addressing w/her Pastor to no avail. Fear remains within the priesthood for speaking out which is sad because if all Pastors and clergy stood together you’d not be the lone voice of justice. While I’ve read now of other Priests being ridiculed and relieved of their Pastoral duties it appears there few and far between, Truth will eventually prevail and the Lord will be with the Truth and solace to those betrayed.

  4. I. Will be unable. to. Attend in person but will certainly be. In spirit
    Love and. peace

  5. There you go Father Mark. Where are the tissues you kept handy for me in the confessional. I need them NOW. I miss you so much. Keep following in Christs sandals. He is sure to bring you back to us.✝️✝️✝️🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻💖💖💖
    You are always in our prayers. Love from Lil and Rick

  6. Just read thru. The. Various emailed messages
    Just spent another evening in the local. ER working on getting this foot pain under. Control. And having everyone keep. asking.

    Does this hurt as they poke around the inflamed spots..
    But. I bet that pain for does not compare to the overarching pain. we feel for Fr.Mark
    .to borrow. a phrase

    What we need. Is a Holy person to figure out this unholy mess.

    Peace. And. love

  7. As I tried to reply on an earlier post (it either didn’t send it wasn’t approved), I think Fr. White may not have considered some potential legitimate reasons the hierarchy may have had for not acting against Fr. McCarrick. I’m uneasy about his re-opening his blog after telling his bishop he’d shut it down – although this is an extraordinary time.

    That said, I’m shocked by the diocese locking one of its priests out of all residences. MAYBE out of one, if he’s been given time to retrieve his personal effects, but out of ALL leaves him homeless.

    I googled the duties a bishop owes to a priest, and surprisingly one of the first results was the Priests’ Handbook for the Diocese of Richmond. It’s from 2016 under Bp. DiLorenzo, but there doesn’t seem to be an updated version online.

    On pg. 20, the handbook describes housing. It says that a pastor is “obliged” to reside in the parish house or rectory, and that if there isn’t one, the parish or institution should provide room and board. https://richmonddiocese.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/PriestHandbook2017-1.pdf

    Assuming Fr. Mark is correct that he remains Pastor pending his appeal and that he can’t be transferred without certain formalities that haven’t been done, then by its own rules (let alone the moral law), the diocese has broken its promise to this priest. It should formally allow him to reside at least at one (and probably both) rectories. This would demonstrate good faith and allow the actual issues to be addressed.

    Caveats: I’m only speaking as a layman – I’m not a canon lawyer. If the Housing section I cited is out-of-date, my analysis may also be flawed. If the diocese has legitimately offered Fr. Mark another appropriate residence then he might not have any right to stay in these rectories.

  8. God Bless you Mark. Continued prayers for you going up. I’m saddened and embarrassed that our leaders are treating you this way, just because they don’t agree with you. They aren’t setting a very Christian-like example to the flock.

  9. Fr. Mark,
    Happy Ordination Anniversary! This is the only time I will say anything on your case since I’m leaving it to prayer, but I was rather concerned about some of the wording in this post. I know this is a deeply difficult time for you. You are in my daily prayers. I am praying the Mary, Undoer of Knots novena over-and-over for our bishop, you, the administrator, and the two parishes involved. There is a mess of knots in all of this that Our Lady needs to help all of you sort out.

    Despite the deep pain and betrayal you feel, I would encourage you in charity to remember that the administrator is bound by obedience and you and I both know full well that he is not a thug; even the use of “thuggish bullying” in relation to him could imply that he himself is trying to be a thug. That type of language is unhelpful and can border on calumnious.

    We all need to make sure that we seek to act in charity and that our passions not get the better of us when faced with conflict and deep pain. I know all of this is causing you immense pain and shock, but Christ calls us to bear in affliction with patience, gentleness, and humility, which means treating your brother priest–who is the middle man in all of this–with fraternal charity on this blog. I have had the same concern about the language used by some of your supporters about our bishop. I hope you will discuss the use of calumnious language with your supporters if an opportunity to do so arises.

    Even in very heated disagreements, the world should know us by our love for one another in Christ. We always seek to fight for the truth grounded in the Divine Love and fraternal charity. We should always be on guard against sin and temptations from the Enemy to turn our righteous anger into sinful anger, which will lead us to greater division. The passion of anger is deeply difficult to control, as you well know as a priest who counsels countless people on this struggle in the Sacrament of Penance.

    I say all of this in charity as someone who has been called by Christ through Our Lady to spiritual motherhood of priests. The ruptured communion taking place in this situation–especially since the conflict is within the fraternity of the priesthood in my own diocese–weighs heavily on me and I am offering prayers and reparations for all of you on a daily basis. I know that Our Heavenly Mother will heal and bind all of the wounds between all of you in time. I hope Our Lord through Our Immaculate Mother brings you strength, peace, and healing.

    Pax Christi,
    Constance T. Hull

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