Pope Accepts Retirement of Buffalo Auxiliary Bishop

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by David Nussman  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  March 2, 2020   

Bp. Edward Grosz accused of covering up sex abuse

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (ChurchMilitant.com) - An auxiliary bishop in the diocese of Buffalo is stepping down.

Bishop Edward Grosz turned 75, the mandatory retirement age for Catholic bishops, on Feb. 16, and on Monday, the diocese announced that Pope Francis has accepted his retirement.

An auxiliary bishop in Buffalo since 1990, Bp. Grosz has been criticized for his role in the clerical sex abuse scandals plaguing the diocese.

Grosz has been accused of providing cover for the late Fr. Dennis Riter, who allegedly sexually abused multiple underage boys.

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Father Riter passed away last month. He had been restored to ministry in June 2018 after an investigation into abuse claims — even though one of his victims, Anthony Ravarini, was not interviewed as a part of the investigation.

According to Ravarini's allegation, Riter forced him to perform oral sex in 1992 when he was six years old. Multiple eyewitnesses say they saw the young Anthony walking out of the rectory with semen on his face and in his hair.

One of the eyewitnesses was then-seminarian Wieslaw Walawender. He wrote a detailed account of what he saw that day and sent it to the secretaries for Aux. Bp. Grosz and then-Bp. Edward Head. Neither Bp. Grosz nor Bp. Head acted on Walawender's complaint, but forces in the diocese eventually blocked Walawender from becoming a priest.

Grosz has been accused of providing cover for the late Fr. Dennis Riter, who allegedly sexually abused multiple underage boys.

Buffalo's previous head, Bp. Richard Malone, resigned in disgrace in early December amid a slew of clerical sex abuse scandals. For many months, a large number of local Catholics — including ex-seminarians and even some diocesan clergy — were calling for Malone to step down.

Many of those who wanted Malone's resignation were also calling for Aux. Bp. Grosz to resign.

Since Bp. Malone stepped down, Bp. Edward Scharfenberger of the nearby Albany diocese has been functioning as Buffalo's administrator.

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Bp. Ed Scharfenberger

Last week, Bp. Scharfenberger was panned by abuse survivors for concelebrating a private Mass with a number of Buffalo priests, including alleged sexual predators.

Father Art Smith concelebrated, despite being accused of sexual abuse. (Smith denies the allegations.) One of Smith's alleged victims, Fr. Ryszard Biernat, was also present at the Mass — part of a gathering of the diocese's clergy on Feb. 24.

Last September, Biernat claimed in an interview with local television station WKBW that Bp. Grosz and Bp. Malone tried to blackmail him into silence.

Father Fabian Maryanski was another concelebrant. He is accused of sexually abusing an underage girl beginning when she was 15 years old. Father Maryanski was removed from public ministry in 2018, and the diocese states his case was forwarded to Rome.

Maryanski's victim, Stephanie McIntyre, reacted with dismay when she learned that her abuser concelebrated at Monday's Mass with the bishop, saying, "I'm so very sad and confused today."

"This is an all-time low moment that hit me just when I thought I was ready to begin healing," she added.

Church Militant reached out to the Buffalo diocese for comment last week about the controversy over the concelebrated Mass, but received no response — though the diocese did release a public statement.

One of the questions that Church Militant posed to the diocese last week was, "We hear that Bp. Grosz is still involved in investigating some high-profile abuse cases. Can you confirm?"

This question came up because a source had told Church Militant that Bp. Grosz was still handling some abuse cases, contradicting what Bp. Scharfenberger told Church Militant previously — namely, that Grosz was no longer assigned to administrative tasks such as investigating abuse claims.

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