Catholic Diocese of Richmond

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Overview of Bishop Knestout & Diocesan Response to the Present Crisis in the Church

What actions has Bishop Knestout taken in response to the present crisis in the Church?

Bishop Knestout is leading the Diocese of Richmond with a commitment to transparency, faith and with direct actions. Over the course of the last few months, Bishop Knestout has responded to the crisis in various ways.

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.

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.

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 present 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:

  • Day 2–Morning Session A, Nov. 13: Bishop Knestout speaks on strengthening bishops’ accountability (1:24:24-1:25:33).
  • Day 2-Morning Session B, Nov. 13: Bishop Knestout suggests an amendment to the Pastoral Letter on racism, “Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love” (42:24-44:58).
  • Day 3-Morning Session, Nov. 14: Bishop Knestout comments on the approval of “Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love” (39:19-40:10) and makes a statement on the abuse crisis (1:29:50-1:38:23).


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 present 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 present 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

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 present crisis in the Church.

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