Brooklyn Bishop appointed by Pope Francis to investigate sex abuse is accused of abuse

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio. | Courtesy of the Diocese of Brooklyn

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, leader of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, who was appointed by Pope Francis to investigate clergy abuse in the diocese of Buffalo, is now facing allegations of abuse of his own which he insists are “false.”

“Today, the Associated Press has published a story accusing me of sexual abuse in the 1970s while I was a priest at St. Nicholas Parish in Jersey City. This was my statement to the AP reporter: ‘I am just learning about this allegation. In my nearly 50-year ministry as a priest, I have never engaged in unlawful or inappropriate behavior and I categorically deny this allegation. I am confident I will be fully vindicated,” DiMarzio said in a statement shared on his Facebook page Wednesday. “There will be a legal process now and I will vigorously defense myself against this false allegation. I am confident I will be fully exonerated.”

In a letter sent Monday to the church’s archdiocese in Newark, New Jersey, and cited by The Associated Press, Boston attorney Mitchell Garabedian said his 56-year-old client, Mark Matzek, alleges DiMarzio and a second priest, the late Rev. Albert Mark, repeatedly abused him when he was an altar boy at St. Nicholas Church and a student at St. Nicholas School.

Garabedian argues that as a result of the allegations, an investigation led by DiMarzio into how a clergy abuse scandal at the Catholic Church’s Buffalo Diocese was handled is now “tainted.”

“The investigation of the diocese of Buffalo by Bishop DiMarzio is tainted because of these allegations,” Garabedian told the AP. “There needs to be a truly neutral investigator to determine whether Bishop [Richard] Malone should resign.”

Garabedian told the AP he plans to file a lawsuit on Matzek’s behalf next month, after New Jersey opens a two-year “look back” period that will allow sex abuse victims to file lawsuits without regard to the statute of limitations.

The Christian Post reached out to Adriana Rodriguez, press secretary for the Brooklyn Diocese, for further comment Thursday, but she was not immediately available.

Rodriguez told the AP that DiMarzio has already completed his report on the Buffalo Diocese and submitted it to the Vatican. Both DiMarzio and Malone are in Rome, Italy, this week for a previously scheduled visit of New York bishops to the Holy See, the AP said.

According to The Buffalo News, Malone has been under pressure to resign for more than a year over his handling of the Buffalo Dioceses' clergy sex abuse crisis. He insisted Thursday that he isn’t going anywhere.

Malone said he intends to remain as bishop until March 19, 2021, when he turns 75 and is required under Catholic Church law to submit his letter of resignation to the pope.

Diocese spokeswoman Kathy Spangler told The Buffalo News in a statement Wednesday: "He is currently engaged with the other bishops of New York state in their Ad Limina visit, discussing with officials of the Holy See and with Pope Francis the areas of challenge and progress of the Catholic Church in New York state and the scope of the vibrant ministries serving the needs of New Yorkers, both Catholic and non-Catholic alike," Spangler said in a statement issued Wednesday afternoon.

In his statement, DiMarzio called sexual abuse “despicable” and said he has done much to address the issue since he began his tenure in Brooklyn.

“Sexual abuse is a despicable crime and since arriving at the diocese in 2003, I have worked and will continue to work tirelessly to purge sexual abuse from our diocese in Brooklyn and Queens. The Diocese of Brooklyn has created safe environments through sexual abuse awareness training for all children and adults who work with them. We conduct ongoing background checks on all who work with children. We have created a Victim Assistance Ministry that provides independent counseling and therapy to victim survivors and provides numerous supports to help them with the healing process,” he said.

“Our Mass of Hope and Healing continues to be celebrated yearly so that as a diocese we can pray together and stand in solidarity with victim-survivors and all those impacted by sexual abuse in our church as they seek to heal.

“The coming days may become challenging for us as a diocese as I work to defend myself from this false allegation. During this difficult time, I will pray for our diocese and ask for you to remember me in your prayers,” he ended.

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