Catholic Diocese of Richmond

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How the Diocese is Protecting Our Children and Fostering
Healing Among Victim Survivors of Clergy Sexual Abuse

What actions has Bishop Knestout taken to provide healing and accountability in the Church?

Bishop Knestout is leading the Catholic Diocese of Richmond with a commitment to provide transparency, hope and healing.

Below is a timeline of Bishop Knestout’s actions.

October 2023

Bishop Knestout during his homily at the Mass for Hope and Healing on Oct. 24, 2023.

October 24, 2023 – Bishop Knestout celebrated the Mass of Hope & Healing at St. Paul Catholic Church in Richmond.

Read Bishop’s homily.

October 2022

October 6, 2022 – Bishop Knestout celebrated Mass of Hope & Healing at St. Bede Catholic Church in Williamsburg.

Read Bishop’s homily. 

September 2022

September, 2022 – The diocesan Office of Safe Environment extended the VIRTUS program, “Empowering God’s Children,” to every parish. The optional age-appropriate program, which has long been present in diocesan Catholic schools, is encouraged for all families involved in parish life. 

Read the full story in The Catholic Virginian. 

April 2022

April 6, 2022 – The diocesan Office of Safe Environment hosted a livestreamed Rosary for the Protection of Children and Families at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart,

Richmond. Bishop Knestout led the recitation of the glorious mysteries in recognition of Child Abuse Prevention Month.

February 2022

February 15, 2022 – Bishop Knestout celebrated the third Mass for Hope & Healing at St. Thomas Aquinas University Parish in Charlottesville. 

November 2021

November 10, 2021 – The Eastern Vicariate’s Mass for Hope & Healing was held at the Basilica of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception, Norfolk. Bishop Knestout concelebrated Mass with priests who serve the Eastern Vicariate.

September 2021

September 17, 2021 – Joined by more than 20 priests from the Western Vicariate, Bishop Knestout presided at the first of three Masses of Hope & Healing at Our Lady of Nazareth, Roanoke. The Masses are part of Bishop Knestout’s ongoing pastoral commitment to assist victim survivors in healing from sexual abuse.

April 2021

April 14, 2021 – The Diocese of Richmond hosted a Rosary for the Protection of Children and Families in recognition of Child Abuse Prevention Month. Bishop Knestout led the rosary from the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart. The event was streamed on the diocesan website and social media platforms.

October 2020

October 15, 2020 – The Independent Reconciliation Program announced on Feb. 17, 2020, reached its conclusion. In total, the Program provided compensation to 51 individuals who qualified under the Program’s criteria. All

Program details were handled by the Independent Claims Administrator, Lynn Crowder Greer of BrownGreer PLC, a Richmond-based firm that specializes in major claims programs. More information about the Program can be found on our Assistance website.

Read the summary report. 

September 2020

September 21, 2020 – The Diocese of Richmond compiled a “Did You Know?” summary sheet outlining the ways we are acting with accountability in response to the clergy abuse crisis within the Church. Through these actions, we are working to rebuild trust in the Church.

Read our “Did You Know?” handout.

August 2020

August 3, 2020 – Bishop Knestout wrote a letter to the faithful in response to the Vademecum published by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in July 2020, which provides guidance and procedural steps to bishops, religious superiors and others when governing allegations of sexual abuse of minors by clergy.

Read Bishop’s letter on accountability in the Church.

Carta a los Fieles.


April 2020

April 2, 2020 – The Diocese of Richmond hosted a Rosary for the Protection of Children and Families as part of Child Abuse Prevention Month. Bishop Knestout led the rosary from the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Richmond. Out of an abundance of caution in regard to the uncertainty of COVID-19, the rosary was livestreamed from the Cathedral so that the faithful from all across our diocese could join together in prayer.

February 2020

February 17, 2020 – The Diocese of Richmond announced the establishment of an Independent Reconciliation Program (IRP) to assist victim survivors who were sexually abused as minors by Catholic clergy. The Program is part of an ongoing reconciliation process to assist victim survivors in their healing and is independently administered by a Richmond based, nationally recognized and highly respected firm specializing in settlement administration. The establishment of the Program is fulfilling a commitment Bishop Knestout made in 2018. Visit the diocese’s IRP website to learn more.*

*2/10/23 Update: The Program was closed October 15, 2020 and the IRP website is no longer available. The link to the program website has been removed.

February 17, 2020 – The Diocese of Richmond launched, a standalone website dedicated to linking survivors with supportive programming and sharing victim assistance efforts of the diocese.

June 2019

June 27, 2019 The Diocese of Richmond announced six names have been added to the list of clergy that have a credible and substantiated claim of sexual abuse against a minor.

Bishop Barry C. Knestout said in a statement, “As we continue to engage with survivors of abuse and learn more about the history of our diocese, we continue our commitment to transparency. It is my sincere hope that the additions of these individuals will help provide healing for anyone who suffered at their hands.” 

Read the press release.

Catholic High School
Virginia Beach

The same day, Bishop Barry C. Knestout announced a policy stating that all diocesan institutions, schools and parish buildings are to only identify themselves with the following:  the names of saints, the mysteries of the faith, the titles of our Lord or of our Lady, or the place where the ministry has been established. They will no longer be named after a bishop, pastor, founder or individual. The only school building, parish or diocesan location that requires a change because of this policy is Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School, Virginia Beach. The school returns to its former name of Catholic High School which it was named in 1993 when it moved to its Princess Anne Road location.

Read Bishop Knestout’s letter and the press release regarding the new diocesan policy.

April 2019

April 2, 2019 During Child Abuse Prevention Month, Bishop Knestout led a Rosary for Healing and Protection with special intentions for victim survivors of abuse. The rosary, hosted by the diocesan Office of Safe Environment, was live streamed from the Pastoral Center to allow faithful from across the diocese to join together in prayer for all who have been touched by abuse.

You can watch the Rosary for Healing and Protection video on our Vimeo channel.

February 2019

February 13, 2019 – Diocese of Richmond Completes Independent Audit of Clergy Files.
The Diocese of Richmond has published names of clergy with credible and substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor. We pledge to do everything in our power to protect children, help victims in their healing, to restore trust from the faithful and in our Church.

November 2018

Bishop Barry C. Knestout speaks from the floor at the fall general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Nov. 13, in Baltimore. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

November 19, 2018 – Bishop Knestout released a statement following the close of the USCCB 2018 Fall General Assembly. Read Bishop’s statement.

November 12-14, 2018 – Bishop Knestout spoke about the crisis in the church and the Pastoral Letter against racism, “Wide Open Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love,” at the USCCB 2018 Fall General Assembly in Baltimore:


November 5, 2018 – Bishop Knestout addresses seminarian formation in his biweekly column. Read Bishop’s column.

“Decades ago, a recommendation letter from one’s pastor to the seminary rector or diocesan vocations director paved the way for a man to undertake studies for priesthood. Today, the process is much more involved.”
-Bishop Knestout, “Seminarian formation an ‘experience of discipleship,'” Nov. 5

Bishop Knestout listens to the concerns of the faithful regarding the
crisis in the Church at St. Joseph Catholic Church, Petersburg, Oct. 24.

October 2018

October 24, 2018 – Joint Statement from Bishop Michael F. Burbidge (Diocese of Arlington) and Bishop Barry C. Knestout (Diocese of Richmond) in Response to the Attorney General’s Investigation (available in English and in Spanish)

During October, Bishop Knestout held listening sessions prior to all nine regional Masses of Atonement to hear from the faithful. Nearly 1,000 people attended listening sessions across the diocese.

“I think also in the time that we are experiencing in the Church there is a need-a call for all the faithful-for us to shepherd one another, to assist one another to holiness, to assist one another by our prayers, by our encouragement, by our confrontation, by our honesty, by our calling one another to account, but also calling one another to holiness.”
-Bishop Knestout, St. Joseph Catholic Church, Petersburg, Oct. 24

View Bishop’s homily from the final regional Mass of Atonement at St. Joseph, Petersburg.

October 22, 2018 – Two recurring themes at the listening sessions involved the issues of trusting the Church and seminarian formation. Bishop Knestout addressed the question “How do we know we can trust bishops?” in his biweekly column. Read Bishop’s column.

“Trust cannot be assumed, nor will it be immediate. It will develop over time as you not only get a sense of who I am, but see the impact of the actions I take, and see that I act with authenticity and consistency in addressing the pastoral concerns of our diocese….”
-Bishop Knestout, “‘How do we know we can trust bishops?'” Oct. 22

Bishop Knestout delivers his homily at the Mass of Atonement at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, Sept. 14, in Richmond.

September 2018

September 14, 2018 – Prior to the regional Masses of Atonement, Bishop presided at the diocesan Mass of Atonement celebrated at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart.

View the Mass of Atonement at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart.

September 14, 2018 – Bishop shared his thoughts on the crisis in the Church and outlined the steps he would take in his Pastoral Letter “From Tragedy to Hope.”

“Many people have asked if our Church is capable of renewal and reform. This is a question the people of God have asked many times in our 2,000-year history and the answer has always been yes — by God’s grace and through the power of the Holy Spirit.”
-Bishop Knestout, “From Tragedy to Hope,” Sept. 14

Read Bishop’s full Pastoral Letter.

Read highlights of Bishop’s Pastoral Letter “From Tragedy to Hope.”


Frequently Asked Questions- Crisis Response

Many people understandably have questions about what is being done to ensure the protection of children and young people following the Pennsylvania grand jury report that was released in August 2018.

A list of frequently asked questions and corresponding answers regarding the sexual abuse crisis and how the Diocese protects children, assists victims and survivors, and reports abuse can be found here.

Watch Bishop’s video interview below as he responds to some of the faithful’s most frequently asked questions about the crisis in the Church.

Good Work of the Church
Seminary Formation
Accountability and Commitment to File Review
Reflection After Listening Sessions