A few weeks ago, on this blog, we were highly critical of the Diocese of Buffalo Catholic officials and how they’re handling abuse cases.
So let’s be charitable now and start on a high note: To its credit, unlike some other dioceses, the Buffalo Catholic diocese includes religious order offenders on its ‘credibly accused’ list.
(Some church ‘accused’ lists include only diocesan clerics.)
This is important for many reasons, one of which is simple: many times, religious order priests, brothers, monks and seminarians have even greater access to kids than diocesan clerics, because they often work in schools or a vulnerable population.
For example, Buffalo church officials include the following Jesuit clerics on their ‘credibly accused’ list, all of whom worked at Canisius High School, college or both:
Sadly, however, that’s where the good news about the Buffalo diocese ends.
While Bishop Michael Fisher includes SOME predatory Jesuits on his list, he ignores others, even thought they too have been found to be ‘credibly accused’ by their own Jesuit supervisors.
Here are a few of them (who also were at Canisius high school or college):
—Fr. Thomas F. Denny, who worked in Brooklyn, Staten Island and New York City, largely in schools (Fordham Prep in the Bronx, McQuaid Jesuit in Rochester and St. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City). Twice, he spent time overseas (Nigeria and Puerto Rico).
—Fr. John L. Farrand, who admitted molesting while in the Buffalo diocese to his church supervisors. He worked in at least three other New York locations (Rochester, Brooklyn and New York City) and overseas twice (France and Puerto Rico).
—Fr. William J. Scanlon, who was at the college between 1976 and 1980 and reportedly admitted the abuse to church officials.
Fr. Scanlon also worked in Rochester, New York City, Jersey City, the Bronx and in Nigeria. He was also on the Fordham University campus.
As you may have noticed, the latter two clerics, Fr. Farrand and Fr. Scanlon, reportedly ADMITTED abusing. And Fr. Farrand’s abuse happened IN THE BUFFALO DIOCESE.
So how on earth do Buffalo church officials explain keeping these men off of their ‘credibly accused’ list?
And speaking of credibly accused religious order abusers, several of them who worked in Buffalo are now elsewhere. They include Thomas Marshall, James Burson, Michael Kolodziej, Linus Kopczewski, Rene Maynard, Bernard Splawski and James Smyka, all of whom are all reportedly “living outside Buffalo Diocese.”
But that should be little consolation or reassurance to Buffalo area Catholics or citizens. Moving child molesters somewhere else doesn’t ‘cure’ them.
Buffalo Catholic officials would have to admit that, knowingly or unknowingly, they or their predecessors have in disputably let dangerous and potentially dangerous clerics be around and sometimes hurt innocent Buffalo area kids.
So given that fact, shouldn’t these same Buffalo Catholic officials NOW desperately want to ‘make up for’ their wrongdoing or mistakes? Shouldn’t they be anxious to prevent future harm to kids by stopping those very same dangerous or potentially dangerous priests from being around and hurting innocent kids in Massachusetts or Ohio or Texas?
Or if Buffalo church staffers can’t prevent these quiet transfers, shouldn’t they want to at least shout from the rooftops “Hey, these child molesters were here in our diocese and now they’re in your diocese. Be careful!”
But that’s not happening. Buffalo Bishop Michael Fischer won’t even use his own website to tell the public where Fr. Marshall, Fr. Burson, Fr. Maynard and the others are now living or were living when they were shipped out of Buffalo.
And how about two other ‘credibly accused’ clerics on the Buffalo diocesan list: Fr. Theodore Podson, who is reportedly “living in the Philippines,” or Fr. Benedict Barszcz, who has reportedly “returned to Poland.”
Both of these are heavily Catholic nations in which clergy sex crimes and cover ups have only begun to surface in recent years and in which, we submit, parents are even more trusting of priests and thus youngsters are even more vulnerable to the predatory ones.
What are Buffalo’s bishop and his staff doing to alert parishioners, police, prosecutors and the public in those countries to the presence of these predators?
Finally, according to BishopAccountability.org, the Buffalo diocese’s 2018 ‘credibly accused’ list “provided no information, besides (the accused) names and death years. Assignment histories were not included; nor were the number or nature of allegations detailed. . .”
There’s just one word for this vagueness: self-serving. This lack of detail helps no one but complicit church officials.