Father Mark White Martinsville
Perhaps the greatest role of a priest is to communicate. They communicate to each other and they communicate to their audience. They communicate scripture, they communicate life and they communicate how to respond when the two collide.To perfectly communicate, you need a sender, a receiver and a message; however, sometimes the communication runs into a disruption and the message shifts from its original intent.
Father Mark White was removed from his position at St. Joseph in Martinsville and St. Francis of Assisi in Rocky Mount following a series of blog posts about the Catholic Church’s handling of sexual abuse among clergy members.
White sees his blog as an extension to all the ways he already communicates with parishioners.
“The on-line social media provide another means of reaching each other, forming a part of the larger ‘social network’ that a Catholic parish is,” he said. “During the virus, of course, the on-line means of communication have become much more important.”
According to White, the Catholic Church already successfully implements the usage of online platforms “but I think in my case we confront the problem of allowing free speech, including criticism, as part of the on-line Catholic communication network.”
He said that the Church hierarchy has struggled with “tolerating free speech on some Catholic websites run by lay people,” but that he may be the only parish priest with a “condemned” blog.
“There has to be room in the Catholic Church for debate, even sometimes angry debate, about lack of accountability to the public trust,” White said. “I remain hopeful that the bishop will recognize his mistake and take a different approach.
White said that he believes efforts to silence him have backfired, alienating “hundreds of people” and bringing “a lot of discredit on our church.”
“From the beginning, I have been willing to have a straightforward discussion and try to find a compromise we could both live with,” he added. “I still believe we could reach that point. But the habits of authoritarian secrecy die very hard, apparently