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Catholic Diocese of Richmond changes policy for naming diocesan buildings and institutions

RICHMOND, Va. -- The Catholic Diocese of Richmond will no longer name diocesan buildings and institutions after an individual bishop, pastor, founder or individual.

Bishop Barry C. Knestout announced the change Thursday morning, saying the policy will go into effect immediately.

The announcement comes on the same day that the Catholic Diocese of Richmond added six priests to a list of more than 40 priests with “credible and substantiated claim of sexual abuse against a minor.”

In February 2019, the Catholic Diocese of Richmond released the names of 42 priests after an internal investigation was launched last year after Attorney General Mark Herring announced he was looking into reports of priest abuse in the state.

“Overcoming the tragedy of abuse is not just about holding accountable those who have committed abuses, it is also about seriously examining the role and complex legacies of individuals who should have done more to address the crisis in real time,” said Bishop Knestout. “The continued honorific recognition of those individuals provides a barrier to healing for our survivors, and we want survivors to know that we welcome and support them in our diocese.”

Bishop Knestout is directing all diocesan institutions, schools and parish buildings to only identify themselves with the following: the names of saints, the mysteries of the faith, the titles of our Lady or of our Lord, or the place where the ministry has been established.

The new policy does not apply to previously named rooms or wings in existing diocesan buildings.

The Catholic Diocese of Richmond says the only building that requires a name change is Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School in Virginia Beach. The school will return to its former name of Catholic High School during the 2019-2020 school year.

“It is my hope and prayer that the policy change is another way to continue to assist survivors of abuse in their healing, especially those who have, in any way, experienced the failure of Church leadership to adequately address their needs and concerns,” added Bishop Knestout.

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