A proposal to create a new diocese in eastern Virginia has the support of Cardinal William H. Keeler, the Richmond diocese's interim bishop, reported the Associated Press.
"I'm certainly supportive of the idea that the strength of the Church, the vitality and growth that we see here, will be, in due time, recognized by the Holy See," Keeler reportedly said Sunday to a crowd of several hundred at local high school.
The archbishop of Baltimore was named apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Richmond after Bishop Walter F. Sullivan retired in September.
Last year, Bishop Sullivan proposed that the diocese be split and that a new diocese be established in eastern Virginia, around Hampton Roads, where about half of the diocese's 210,000 Catholics reside.
Keeler said the proposal was receiving very serious study, but he wasn’t sure how long the study would take.
The Diocese of Richmond was established in 1820. Its boundaries were redrawn in 1974, when the Diocese of Arlington was created in northern Virginia.