On this blog recently, we’ve noted how bishops in several New York and New Jersey dioceses are refusing to truly ‘come clean’ about their child molesting priests, nuns, brothers, bishops, seminarians and deacons. Not surprisingly, the Diocese of Rochester’s Accused Priest List published by Rochester Bishop Salvatore Matano is no different.
For starters, ask yourself this: If I were a bishop, on my website, what headline or title would I put above a list of credibly accused child molesters?”
There are many possibilities, but perhaps the most simple and most clear would be something like “List of credibly accused clergy.”
Matano, however, chooses the phenomenally to title the Diocese of Rochester’s Accused Priest List with the vague description: “Dispositions – 2002 to present.”
What the heck does that mean?
Few people would immediately connect that phrase with clergy sex crimes. That confusion, we suspect, is what Matano wants.
(He’s not alone in wanting few people to actually see his list of child molesting clerics. Many other bishops make it hard to find these lists on their websites, often usually equally vague wording.)
Similarly, Matano consistently uses a hurtful term to depict abuse reports or disclosures. On his website, he repeatedly uses the minimizing and disparaging term “complaints.”
In our view, a “complaint” against a priest might be that his homilies are too long or he shows up at meetings late.
When one reports that he has sexually assaulted them, that ought not to be described as a “complaint.”
(Lest you think maybe we’re being too sensitive about language here, remember that we’re talking about devastating crimes and betrayals, often against naïve, trusting, devout kids. That life-altering harm can’t magically be un-done. But all of us can at least be accurate and careful when we describe such horror, so that we don’t rub more salt into already-deep and often still-fresh wounds.)
Matano’s ‘credibly accused’ list also omits a number of clerics that it shouldn’t omit. Among them:
–Fr. Daniel M. Casey, who’s accused, in pending lawsuits, of abusing six boys in New York and Georgia. When he left the Syracuse diocese, he was then found living at a rectory in the Rochester diocese. 1980s.
At least the Syracuse bishop includes Fr. Casey on his ‘credibly accused’ list.
–Fr. Otto Vogt, who is accused in a lawsuit of abusing a boy in Honeoye Falls for four years.
Also left off Matano’s ‘credibly accused’ list are these clerics, all of whom spent time at McQuaid Jesuit high school in Rochester (and all of whom were deemed ‘credibly accused’ by the Jesuits):
–Fr. Cornelius Carr
–Fr. Thomas Denny
–Fr. Roy Drake
–Fr. John L. Farrand
–Fr. Leonard Riforgiato
–Fr. William Scanlon
–Fr. Robert Voelkle
When Matano was promoted from Burlington to Rochester, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests pointed out that:
“In 2006, Matano’s diocese was one of just two in America to have been found in violation of the US bishops weak and vague national abuse policy. . .”
His violation wasn’t some minor, administrative slip up. It was “because Matano refused to ensure that adequate abuse prevention training was provided to all his staff, as the policy requires.”
Read more about SNAP’s view of Matano here:
Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims of sexual abuse in the Diocese of Rochester. The Diocese of Rochester in New York filed for bankruptcy protection in 2019. Our lawyers are now offering free legal consultations to discuss a potential lawsuit and your other options as a survivor of sexual abuse by priests and other employees of the Rochester Diocese. Call us at (888) 283-9922 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.