The Catholic Diocese of Richmond has suspended a Norfolk priest who graduated from Roanoke Catholic School, was an altar server at St. Andrews Church and held his first priestly assignment there. Diocesan officials say the suspension of Joseph Metzgar the Third followed recent accusations that he violated the code of conduct with minors. The news release did not offer details, but it did say the violations did not involve sexual abuse.
From the Catholic Diocese of Richmond:
Bishop Barry C. Knestout has suspended the priestly faculties of Father Joseph H. Metzger III effective Friday, July 12, 2019.
On July 5, 2019, a complaint was sent to the Diocesan Office of Safe Environment regarding a recent violation of the Diocese’s Code of Conduct with Minors. (Link to CDR Code of Conduct with Minors: https://richmonddiocese.org/mcoc).
While the complaint does not involve an accusation of sexual abuse, in accordance with diocesan policy and practice, the complaint was reported to law enforcement. Following an inquiry into the complaint by the Office of Safe Environment and consultation with the Diocesan Review Board, Bishop Knestout met with Fr. Metzger and suspended his priestly faculties.
The suspension means Fr. Metzger cannot present himself publicly as a priest, wear clerical attire, administer the sacraments or celebrate Mass publicly, nor is he to have any interaction with minors or youth.
On December 8, 2018, Fr. Metzger was placed on temporary leave of absence from his assignment as pastor of Blessed Sacrament, Norfolk, due to previous violations of the Diocesan Code of Conduct with Minors. On July 1, 2019, Fr. Metzger was assigned to serve as ecclesiastical notary in the Office of the Chancellor and as assessor in the Diocesan Tribunal along with the celebration of Mass at diocesan elderly housing facilities and communities of women religious in the Richmond area. As a result of this new complaint and subsequent suspension, he is now unassigned.
The diocesan child protection policy is online at www.richmonddiocese.org.
A 2016 story in the Catholic Virginian on Metzgar’s 25th anniversary in the priesthood says he graduated from Roanoke Catholic School in 1980, was an altar server at St. Andrew’s Church for eight years and held his first priestly assignment there. CLICK HERE to read the article.