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Parishioners stand by priest after bishop prohibits him from sharing opinion online

Father White preaching in February 2020. (WSET)
Father White preaching in February 2020. (WSET)
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MARTINSVILLE, Va. (WSET) -- Parishioners at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Martinsville and St. Francis of Assisi in Rocky Mount say their priest Father Mark White did nothing wrong.

"He deserves justice," said Joe Kernan, a member at St Joseph Catholic Church. "He deserves not to be mistreated."

Church members are disappointed in the Bishop's decision to remove their priest.

Joe Graf with St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church says Father White used his blog again as a way to reach out to his congregations during the pandemic.

"They were a very good way for communicating to us," said Graf.

Richard Long, a member of St. Francis of Assisi says the bishop appeared at the mass yesterday unexpectedly.

Long says Bishop Knestout emphasized his plan to remove Father White from both churches.

"That was kind of salt in the wound because we weren't able to be at the church to support Father," Long said. "We were looking from our houses at a distance."

Joe Kernan and many others wrote letters to the Bishop, asking him to reconsider.

They even created a petition and made signs for Father White.

"In my 81 years on this earth, I've known over a hundred priests and Father Mark is probably the most reverent and the most dedicated priest I think I've ever met," Kernan said.

Members fear they will lose a trusted leader in their community.

"It's hard losing a father and I think we could say the same thing about our parish is that we're losing a father that's been like our shepherd," said Enrique Rangel- Rodriguez, a member St Joseph Catholic Church.

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They say they are in no way trying to disrespect the bishop, but they hope he will change his mind.

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