EAST AURORA, N.Y. (ChurchMilitant.com) - The dean of seminarians at Christ the King Seminary in the Buffalo diocese has resigned over an "alarming" climate of "blackmail" and "continual cover-up" of sex abuse.
"Why isn't anything being done here about Bishop Malone? Why isn't Rome listening?" asks Stephen Parisi as he suddenly resigned from Christ the King Seminary on Thursday.
Parisi: "The only way for the church to survive is for good and honest lay people to reclaim their church and the first step is to stop putting money in the collection basket.” @WKBW @Charlie_Reports pic.twitter.com/WHp1cBqTSR— Nikki DeMentri (@nikkidementri) August 16, 2019
In a six-page letter of resignation, Parisi described a climate of "continual cover-up of sex abuse, abuse of power, abuse of authority, abuse of seminarians, practically hazing of seminarians," at the East Aurora, New York, seminary.
"Bishop Malone, for the love of God and for the sake of the faithful of the Diocese of Buffalo, please step down!" Parisi ended the letter, dated Aug. 15, the Solemnity of the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The seminarian reiterated the descriptions to Buffalo's WKBW, adding that the environment at Christ the King Seminary in East Aurora is "unhealthy and hostile" and "fueled by inappropriate sexual behavior, bizarre conversations, intimidation and alcohol."
Parisi explained his dilemma, "My parents instilled in me a basic sense of faith and morals. I have come to the realization that the values and morals of this seminary and diocese do not correspond to my own."
In the letter, Parisi encouraged seminarians to demand that their formation directors and professors adhere to "Christian or professional behavior."
The demands included:
Parisi's resignation represents the latest scandal in a dramatic downward spiral of Christ the King Seminary — and the Buffalo diocese.
Last week, the state of New York opened a year-long window of opportunity for victims of sex abuse to file their grievances. More than 400 lawsuits were filed statewide under the Child Victims Act and more than 100 child sex abuse lawsuits were filed in Buffalo.
In September 2018, Fr. Joseph Gatto, then president-rector of Christ the King Seminary, was placed on leave after a sexual misconduct allegation. One complainant from a local man who had gone to Gatto for spiritual counseling in 2000 stated that Gatto "quickly befriended me, and shortly thereafter made unwanted sexual advances toward me."
The diocese decided in May 2019 to reinstate Gatto, despite his being credibly accused by two men of making unwanted homosexual advances. It reasoned Gatto "underwent professional evaluation and remedial measures" and Gatto's "did not rise to the level that would require removal from active priestly ministry."
Specifically, he's referring to a party at Ss. Peter and Paul rectory in Hamburg where three Hamburg priests were overheard making inappropriate comments.
Investigative reporter Charlie Specht of Buffalo's WKBW reported on three Buffalo priests who had been suspended for engaging in "pornographic" conversations at a pizza party at Ss. Peter and Paul parish in Hamburg.
The diocese suspended the priests after testimony by several seminarians who alleged vulgar conversation about homosexual sex, viewing and masturbating to images of a parishioner's penis and jokes about a priest going to truck stops to give oral sex.
Parisi said seminarians were warned not to talk about the matter or they could face retaliation.
"This culture of blackmail and hypocrisy within the clergy and the hierarchy is so deep, it is so entrenched," Parisi told WKBW. "The only way for the church to survive is for good and honest lay people to reclaim their church and the first step is to stop putting money in the collection basket."
Parisi joined protesters in front of Bp. Malone's home Sunday, demanding his resignation. Along with his resignation, they demand to see a larger investigation.
"When is Pope Francis going to step up? When is Cardinal Dolan, in New York, the Metropolitan Archbishop of this province ... when are they going to do something," asked advocate for victims of clergy sexual abuse James Faluszczak.
Protesters plan to continue speaking out against Bp. Malone until he resigns.
A petition demanding that Bp. Malone step down is available online.