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BUFFALO, N.Y. (ChurchMilitant.com) - A portrait of Buffalo Auxiliary Bp. Edward Grosz has been vandalized, and seminary administrators are hunting down the perpetrator — even as they first publicly denied the story.
Church Militant confirmed from a former employee at Christ the King Seminary that an image of Grosz — a controversial bishop believed to have covered up far more sex abuse than Bp. Richard Malone — was slashed and marked up this week.
The portrait hangs outside the refectory at Christ the King Seminary, on the "Wall of Fame," a collage of pictures of recipients of the annual Curé of Ars award, given to supporters of the seminary "whose lives reflect the qualities of Christian dedication and service that marked the life of St. John Vianney." The award is given by the seminary's board of trustees.
Michael Sherry, Academic Dean at Christ the King and a former police officer, at first denied any knowledge of the vandalism when contacted by Church Militant, even denying a portrait of Grosz exists anywhere on campus.
"[Y]our email was a complete surprise to me in several regards," wrote Sherry in a March 13 email. " I'm personally not aware of any portrait of Bishop Grosz on our campus, and  I'm not aware of any acts of vandalism. I did, however, check with our safety officer, who happens to be a priest, and he too is unaware of any such portrait on our campus or of any act of vandalism."
Church Militant had obtained a photo of the vandalism from the day before, however, and after pressing Sherry further, he admitted the vandalism did occur.
"The portrait does appear to have been vandalized," he wrote in a later email. "I have notified our Safety Officer who is now investigating the matter. You will hear from him in a short while, once he is through with the police."
The response contradicts what inside sources told Church Militant, who informed us as early as Thursday afternoon that seminary faculty were well aware of the defacing and were "livid," and were conducting a crackdown investigation to discover the perpetrator.
Inside sources have also confirmed that seminarians are growing increasingly angry at the culture of dysfunction and abuse of power at Christ the King, a seminary that's been wracked by homosexual scandals stretching back years. Seminarians are also manifesting growing anger at diocesan leadership, as evidenced by the vandalism of Grosz's photo.
The defacing comes only weeks after Church Militant aired a special report exposing Grosz's decades of alleged sex abuse cover-up — cover-up far more extensive than that of Malone, forced to resign in disgrace in December after more than a year of calls for him to step down for his mishandling of abuse cases.
A Buffalo native, Grosz was ordained a priest for the diocese in 1971 and consecrated auxiliary bishop in 1990, a role that was key, as he was first to be told of all sex abuse allegations and was the primary investigator, making him aware of every abuse allegation and abuser priest going back three decades — long before Malone's arrival in 2012.
Pope Francis recently accepted Grosz's resignation after he turned 75, although Grosz took the unusual step of submitting his resignation letter weeks before his birthday. In response to Church Militant's queries, diocesan spokesman Greg Tucker confirmed that Grosz had been removed from all administrative duties before the first of the year, although he claimed not to know why he would have submitted his resignation letter early.
A source informed Church Militant that, contrary to the spokesman's statement, Grosz was still involved in investigating some high-profile abuse cases. Our media queries to the diocese on this point went unanswered.
"It has been well known for years — especially among the priests — that Bp. Grosz covers for and protects his classmates and other select priests," wrote whistleblower Siobhan O'Connor, Malone's former administrative assistant.
"Bishop Grosz must be held accountable for his appalling actions, multiple cover-ups, and utterly complicit behavior," she insisted. "Bishop Grosz has hidden away and avoided public scrutiny for long enough. He cannot get away with it any longer!"
Grosz is accused of multiple cover-ups, including that of Fr. Art Smith, a priest with a track record of abuse allegations going back decades. Father Ryszard Biernat, Malone's former secretary, claims he was sexually assaulted by Smith in 2003 when Biernat was a seminarian, and that Grosz used blackmail to silence him, threatening to send Biernat back to Poland if he didn't stop talking about his abuse.
Grosz is also implicated in the cover-up of alleged abuse by Fr. Dennis Riter, who reportedly forced six-year-old Anthony Ravarini into oral sex. An eyewitness to the aftermath of the abuse, Wieslaw Walawender, typed up a letter in 1992 documenting the abuse and hand-delivered it to the secretary of Bp. Edward Head and also sent a copy to Grosz. He never received a response.
Christ the King Seminary has a long history of scandal involving homosexuality, notably involving former rector Fr. Joseph Gatto, who abruptly resigned in September 2018 after two adult men sued him for homosexual assault.
The diocese acknowledged he was guilty of the alleged misconduct but determined his behavior "did not rise to the level that would require removal from active priestly ministry." Gatto received treatment at Southdown Institute in Toronto, Canada before being restored to active ministry in May 2019 by Bp. Richard Malone — a move that led to such loud criticism from Catholics that within 24 hours, Malone reversed himself and clarified Gatto would not be serving as a priest for the time being.
Church Militant later confirmed, however, that Gatto is now serving as parochial administrator at St. Leo the Great parish in Amherst, where Bp. Edward Scharfenberger, apostolic administrator in Buffalo after Malone's resignation, concelebrated a controversial Mass that involved multiple priests credibly accused of sex abuse.
Clerical and lay sources informed Church Militant that Gatto had used his position as rector to solicit homosexual favors from seminary applicants. Those who failed to accede to his requests were often not admitted to study.