Former seminarian details 'retaliatory' conditions at Christ the King

"It's just not right....it's not a healthy environment"

August 18, 2019 - 9:40 am
Categories: 

Buffalo, N.Y. (WBEN) - A quiet demonstration of three on the sidewalk outside the residence of Diocese of Buffalo Bishop Richard Malone Sunday morning called attention to what is described as "retaliatory" conditions at the Christ the King Seminary in East Aurora.

Former seminarian Stephen Parisi of the Diocese of Buffalo announced that he
will not return for studies next week at Christ the King Seminary and as the student elected
“Dean of the House” he has revealed retaliation against seminarians by
seminary officials and described a sickly dysfunctional environment at the
seminary.

Parisi told WBEN at the sidewalk session, "I'm calling for better conditions for seminarians, not to live in fear and intimidation because they  make it very well known that you can be dismissed for no reason at all, they don't have to give a reason.  It's just not right."

Parisi detailed one incident he recalls that involved a priest and a seminarian, saying, "one seminarian was being sexually pursued by a priest and when he did not accept those advances there were repercussions, the Bishop knew about this for over nine months...nothing was done until his mother came out on the news".

The demonstration in the shadows of St. Stanislaus Church on the east side comes following a historic week that saw scores of abuse suits filed against the diocese.

"It is important now, more than ever, that whistleblowers against the Church and
other powerful institutions be protected and safely and openly heard", says abuse survivor and advocate James Faluszczak who participated in the demonstration.  "The seminary is a barometer of the health of the diocese. Bishop Malone’s intractable tenure in Buffalo stands as an obstacle of healing", added Faluszczak.

"Bishop Malone likes to avoid and ignore problems as much as he can", said diocese whistleblower Siobhan O'Connor who walked the sidewalk with Parisi and Faluszczak.  "At every level of this dioces there is a lack of accountability", said O'Connor.  O'Connor, who once was an assistant to Malone, has had no contact with Bishop Malone for a year.

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.

 

Comments ()