The threats against investigative reporter Charlie Specht were both un-Christian and un-American, according to Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger.
Scharfenberger, in a statement today, stopped short of mentioning Specht by name but said the Catholic Church needs to withstand the media attention that has grown out of the clergy sexual abuse scandal.
The statement came just a day after Paul E. Lubienecki, an adjunct professor at Christ the King Seminary, was charged with making death threats against the WKBW-TV reporter. Specht has won state and national awards for his work investigating the diocese.
"There is no place – nor should there be any tolerance – for threats or harassment towards members of the news media or anyone else." Scharfenberger said in his statement. "This is against who we are as Christians but also against our nation's founding principles that guarantee freedom to the press and freedom of speech."
When asked about Lubienecki's arrest, the diocese initially declined comment and cited the ongoing criminal prosecution. It did, however, confirm that Lubienecki had been put on leave from his position as an adjunct professor at the seminary.
On Thursday, Scharfenberger issued his statement condemning the threats.
"As a church we must be able to withstand the glaring light of scrutiny – even as we seek to pierce the darkness with our own light, demonstrating Christ's abundant love, forgiveness and care for us all," he said.
Arrested by the FBI, Lubienecki, 62, faces two felony cyberstalking charges and, if convicted, a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
The allegations of clergy sexual abuse have led to widespread media attention and the recent resignation of Bishop Richard J. Malone. Malone's departure came more than a year after local Catholics began calling for his removal over his handling of the sex abuse scandal.