A national group critical of how the Catholic Church deals with clergy sex abuse cases on Friday criticized Buffalo Bishop Edward U. Kmiec for failing to alert area families about a priest accused of molesting three minors more than 30 years ago.
The Rev. Gabriel M. Patil was accused in 2004 lawsuits of molesting three boys in 1978, during his time at a high school in the Diocese of Allentown, Pa.
The lawsuit was dismissed in 2005 by Pennsylvania State Supreme Court.
But members of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests said Patil was "credibly accused" in the lawsuits, and his presence in the Buffalo Diocese should have been made known to Western New Yorkers.
"We're here to sound the alarm. We want to ensure that children in this diocese are kept safe," said Barbara Blaine, president and co-founder of SNAP.
Blaine stood outside diocesan headquarters on Main Street Friday afternoon with fellow SNAP members Mark Lyman and Judith Burns-Quinn, carrying childhood photos of dozens of victims of clergy sex abuse.
Patil, though, is part of the Barnabite Fathers, a religious order of priests that is separate from the Buffalo Diocese.
He served for several years at the National Shrine Basilica of Our Lady of Fatima in Youngstown until being reassigned in December 2009 to the Barnabites' delegation in India.
Diocesan spokesman Kevin A. Keenan referred questions about Patil to the Barnabites, who issued a short statement.
"Concerning the erroneous allegations regarding Rev. Gabriel Patil, the Barnabite Fathers believe they emanate from an Allentown, Pennsylvania case in which Fr. Patil was mentioned though never named as a defendant. The case was finally dismissed in late 2005. The Barnabite Fathers are aware of no other incident involving Fr. Patil or any claim involving his conduct," the Rev. Peter M. Calabrese, provincial vicar and chancellor for the Lewiston Barnabites, said in the statement.
Nonetheless, Blaine maintained that Kmiec had a "moral and civic responsibility" to be more forthright about clergy who have been accused of abuse.
As part of a national study of clergy sex abuse in the Catholic Church, diocesan officials in 2004 revealed that 53 clerics in the Buffalo Diocese had been accused since 1950.
But the diocese has steadfastly refused to name names -- a stance that victims and advocacy groups have railed against for years.
The names of 14 Buffalo-area priests accused of sexual abuse were revealed through lawsuits and criminal proceedings.
"It's exposing it that might prevent someone else from being hurt," said Blaine.