Charity struggling to make target goal of $11 million
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BUFFALO, N.Y. (ChurchMilitant.com) - Catholic Charities of Buffalo, New York is having a hard time meeting its fundraising goal of $11 million, and is attributing its lack of funding to Catholics withholding donations owing to the many sex abuse scandals multiplying under the leadership of Bp. Richard Malone.
In a public statement on Thursday, Catholic Charities made known that it was millions of dollars short of its target.
"So people are, rightfully so, people are confused, their (sic) angry, they're upset with the Catholic church," said Dennis Walczyk, president and CEO of the charity.
This statement comes the same day that Malone announced he was reinstating Fr. Joseph Gatto to active ministry — in spite of the diocese recently finding him guilty of homosexual misconduct, including making unwanted sexual advances towars a man he was spiritually counseling.
These are in addition to allegations coming from clerical and nonclerical sources inside the Buffalo diocese who last fall told Church Militant that Gatto used his position as rector at Christ the King Seminary to solicit homosexual favors from new applicants to the seminary.
Malone's diocese this week concluded its payout of $17.5 million to 106 victims of clerical sex abuse, as part of its Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program (IRCP). The financial compensation was conditioned on the promise that victims would never sue the diocese. Critics say the diocese benefits from the victims compensation program, as litigation often results in far larger settlements.
The diocese launched the IRCP owing to the passage of the Child Victims Act (CVA) passed in February. The CVA opened up a one-year window for cases to be litigated without being blocked by the statute of limitations. Although 106 victims received payouts, 135 applicants were turned down.
One case the diocese deemed not credible involved Anthony Ravarini, who alleges he was abused by Fr. Dennis Riter when he was six years old, forced to perform oral sex on the priest in his rectory in April 1992, when Riter was pastor of Queen of All Saints parish in Lackawanna, New York.
Wieslaw Walawender, then in his third year of theology at Christ the King Seminary and assigned to Riter's parish for pastoral experience, told Church Militant that he witnessed young Ravarini running out of Riter's office with semen on his head, face and shirt. This was also witnessed by Ravarini's late paternal guardian.
Walawender wrote a detailed account of the event in May 1992. He then hand-delivered copies of the letter to the secretaries of both the ordinary of the diocese, then-Bp. Edward D. Head, and the auxiliary bishop, Edward Grosz, who is still Buffalo's auxiliary bishop. Walawender says no one from the diocese ever followed up with him about his 1992 letter attesting to Riter's abuse. Walawender also states he was railroaded out of the diocese's seminary program owing to being a whistleblower.
In spite of loud calls by faithful Catholics for Malone to resign, he is instead attempting to repair his damaged reputation by announcing a series of listening sessions starting June 8. Spokeswoman Kathy Spangler said the five sessions will offer concerned Catholics an "opportunity to create constructive partnerships, receive feedback and formulate next steps to address the effects of the clergy sexual abuse crisis and other matters of concern.”
Critics are skeptical, recalling the listening sessions offered last summer by San Diego's Bp. Robert McElroy, where Catholics were silenced, in some cases thrown out, and where attendees were intimidated by the heavy presence of armed guards.
In at least one case, a woman was berated by McElroy for daring to ask why he employed a same-sex married man, Aaron Bianco, as pastoral associate at one of his parishes. Instead of answering the questino, McElroy scolded the woman, refusing to answer her question.
Bianco eventually resigned from his position, after months of intense backlash. To this day, McElroy has never explained why he employed and protected an active homosexual in one of his parishes living a life entirely contrary to Catholic teaching.