NEW YORK (ChurchMilitant.com) - A crony of homosexual predator Theodore McCarrick has been hand-picked by the Vatican to lead its high-profile investigation into clerical sex abuse swamping Bp. Richard Malone's diocese of Buffalo, New York.
Brooklyn's Bp. Nicholas DiMarzio, a McCarrick protégé, will be leading the Vatican-authorized probe into Malone's diocese according to an announcement on Thursday from the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington.
"This Visitation is a non-judicial and non-administrative process that requires confidentiality," read the announcement. "It is not subject to the recent instruction of the Holy See, VOX ESTIS, LUX MUNDI — YOU ARE THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD (Vox Estis)."
This so-called "exceptional initiative of the Holy See" frees New York's Cdl. Timothy Dolan from having to run the investigation as the metropolitan of Buffalo as per the new papal guidelines, Vox Estis. Dolan was under increasing pressure to investigate Buffalo's growing list of scandals under Malone.
While many Catholics approve of the Vatican's involvement in Buffalo, some Catholics are concerned that the Vatican's so-called fact-finding mission will find few facts and result in a whitewash of the corruption in Buffalo.
They note DiMarzio was chosen in 1996 to be an auxiliary bishop under then-Abp. Theodore McCarrick in Newark, New Jersey. McCarrick would go on to consecrate DiMarzio on Oct. 31 of that year. He was McCarrick's auxiliary for less than three years, however, before being promoted in 1999 to lead the diocese of Camden, New Jersey.
This fast-tracking of DiMarzio was remarkable as bishops typically work under a bishop for twice that long before being given their own diocese. The promotion of an auxiliary to his own diocese is a decision that relies heavily on the decision of the metropolitan archbishop as per the Catholic Code of Canon Law.
When choosing new bishops, canon 377.§3 states that the pontifical legate, or papal nuncio in Washington, will forward to Rome "suggestions of the metropolitan and suffragans of the province to which the diocese to be provided for belongs."
The metropolitan for Camden in 1999 was McCarrick as the archbishop of New Jersey.
Malone remarked on Thursday that he "welcomes the Apostolic Visitation" by DiMarzio.
In a press release the same day, DiMarzio promised to keep an open mind.
"This is a difficult period in the life of the church in Buffalo," said DiMarzio. "I pledge I will keep an open mind throughout the process and do my best to learn the facts and gain a thorough understanding of the situation in order to fulfill the mandate of this Apostolic Visitation."
DiMarzio will have a lot of facts to report back to Rome and a lot of questions to ask Malone. Such questions will include why he listed 42 priests as being credibly accused of sex abuse while diocesan insiders revealed that the list should include more than 100 clerics.
He could ask Malone why he allowed Fr. Dennis Riter to be reinstated to ministry in June 2018 before interviewing one of the alleged victims or a witness to the event.
He may ask why the bishop chose to restore Fr. Joseph Gatto to active ministry in May 2019 after it was determined that Gatto had been credibly accused by two men of making unwanted homosexual advances against them.
In addition, Malone said Gatto "underwent professional evaluation and remedial measures" and his improper conduct "did not rise to the level that would require removal from active priestly ministry."
He may be interested in WKBW's three-part investigation showing that Malone returned Fr. Art Smith to active ministry despite credible allegations of sex abuse. It also showed that he allowed Fr. Robert Yetter to remain a pastor despite multiple allegations of homosexual predation.
DiMarzio could also delve into a series of recent scandals pushing 8 in 10 Catholics to say they want Malone gone.
But insiders aren't anticipating DiMarzio to ask many hard questions or disclose many facts in the Vatican's probe. At any rate, now that the Vatican has launched its investigation, the seal of confidentiality will assure that little if anything is revealed to the public.