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Diocese returns Herberger, Leising to active ministry; 2 other priests remain on leave

Two Buffalo-area priests were returned to active ministry Friday after a diocese investigation cleared them of child sexual abuse allegations — while accusations against two other priests were upheld and sent to the Vatican for further review.

The Rev. Roy Herberger and Monsignor Frederick R. Leising have been returned to active ministry, the diocese announced Friday in a news release.

The Rev. Fabian J. Maryanski and the Rev. Mark J. Wolski will remain on administrative leave, as the Vatican office known as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith reviews the diocese’s investigation into complaints of sex abuse against them.

Bishop Richard J. Malone made the determinations after considering the reports of investigator Scott F. Riordan and the recommendations of the Diocesan Review Board, a group of clergy and lay Catholic professionals appointed to examine and weigh abuse allegations.

Herberger, the retired pastor of SS. Columba-Brigid Church known for his outspokenness on social issues and commitment to urban ministry, denied the allegation that prompted his suspension in June.

In a letter to friends and parishioners at the time, Herberger said that he knows the man making the claim because he helped the man's father, who struggled with alcoholism and was homeless for stretches of time on the streets of Buffalo.

Priest on leave denies alleged sex abuse in 1980s

"I want everyone to know that I deny these claims completely — 100%," Herberger said in the letter. "I'm not saying that the victim is lying about being assaulted by some priest, a priest, but I do emphatically deny that it was me."

Herberger was assisting at the University at Buffalo Newman Center when he was placed on leave.

He declared in the letter that he is a “75-year-old virgin” who has never broken his priestly vow of celibacy with anyone and that he was willing to take a lie detector test.

Leising, 73, is a former president and rector of Christ the King Seminary in Aurora and pastor of Nativity Church in Clarence.

He was suspended in November after his name surfaced on the Buffalo Diocese’s Facebook page, in reference to a woman’s claim that he forcibly kissed her in 1988. Leising denied the accusation in an interview with The Buffalo News.

Two more Western New York priests put on leave after abuse complaints

A woman — who received a $400,000 settlement offer from the diocese earlier this month — accused Maryanski of sexually abusing her for years, starting when she was a 15-year-old parishioner at St. Patrick Church in Barker.

Maryanski, 77, admitted in an interview with The News that he had sex with the woman, but not until she was in her 20s. He denied having any sexual contact with the woman when she was a teenager.

Wolski, former pastor of SS. Peter & Paul Church in Hamburg, who at one time served on the Diocesan Review Board, was suspended in May.

Wolski, 76, was retired since 2012 and assisting at various parishes.

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