The Diocese of Buffalo issued a statement Sunday afternoon defending the actions of Bishop Richard Malone following a protest earlier in the day in front of St. Stanislaus Church and the bishop’s residence.
The sign-carrying pickets, who demanded the bishop’s resignation, included Stephen F. Parisi, who recently stepped down as dean of seminarians at Christ the King Seminary in protest over diocesan policies and practices at the seminary.
The statement, issued by Cathy Spangler, diocesan director of communications, reiterated the diocese’s assertion that “Bishop Malone has never allowed any priest with a credible allegation of abusing a minor to remain in ministry.” The statement also denied accusations that Malone had violated the seal of the confessional, noting that a complaint against a priest for such a violation continues to be under investigation.
The statement also denied Parisi’s complaints about the handling of personal finances, loans and health care for seminarians and leveled criticism at Parisi himself, saying he “was under investigation for academic dishonesty at Christ the King Seminary and his departure hinders any further inquiry.”
The statement read:
"Earlier today, while many Catholics were attending Sunday Mass, three individuals chose to gather in front of St. Stanislaus Church and Bishop Malone’s residence. These individuals were within their rights, and displayed various poster signs. The Diocese of Buffalo, has responded to these topics previously and it is unfortunate that some have not received or understood the responses. It is necessary that the truth, even if not accepted by some, be shared again:
"Bishop Malone has never allowed any priest with a credible allegation of abusing a minor to remain in ministry. He has stated it is his responsibility to lead the Diocese of Buffalo and he will continue to do so by continuing to offer opportunities to bring healing to victim-survivors of abuse and renewed trust to the people of the Diocese.
Mr. Parisi has very publicly announced his withdrawal from the Program of Priestly Formation and educational studies at Christ the King Seminary. Mr. Parisi was under investigation for academic dishonesty at Christ the King Seminary and his departure hinders any further inquiry.
"In addition, there has never been an accusation that Bishop Malone violated the seal of the confessional. Mr. Parisi and others make the outrageous and unsupported claim that Bishop Malone has not honored the seal and ignored a complaint that Fr. Jeffrey Nowak violated the seal of the confessional. Bishop Malone has never ignored this complaint. To the contrary, Bishop Malone has initiated an investigation of the complaint. When the individual who made the complaint was first questioned, his response was vague and needed follow up. Fr. Nowak has been removed from ministry while the investigation continues. The Office of Professional Responsibility has tried to contact the individual making this complaint but he has yet to respond. The Diocese will continue to pursue this claim and take additional action if necessary.
"Finally, in reference to Mr. Parisi’s recent interview statements regarding seminarian personal finances, students accepted in the Program of Priestly Formation (PPF) for the Diocese of Buffalo sign promissory notes for 0 (zero) percent interest loans for tuition, room and board expenses. Upon ordination to the priesthood, these loans are forgiven. For those without medical insurance, a policy for students is provided. Men discerning the call to enter the PPF are informed of these provisions. Some candidates have chosen to delay their entry into the program so they can be adequately prepared for their time of discernment and study. Seminarians who graduate from Christ the King Seminary graduate with a Master’s Degree and, like their counterparts in the secular world, it is not unimaginable that they will incur student debt which focusing on their studies. The Diocese of Buffalo and Christ the King Seminary has assisted seminarians with emergency funding when possible."
Story topics: Clergy sex cases