Grosz & LiPuma

Trigger Warning for Survivors: This post contains a graphic reference to clerical sexual abuse and the testimony of a survivor who was retraumatized by a member of the clergy.  A general theme is the cover up of clerical sexual abuse. Please read at your discretion.

grosz lipuma joined

Bishop Malone is rightfully our primary focus here in Buffalo because he is the primary leader of our diocese. But he is not the only member of diocesan leadership who has contributed to this debacle. The focus of this post will be on two such leaders: Auxiliary Bishop Edward M. Grosz and Msgr. David G. LiPuma, who was the priest secretary for Bishops Mansell and Kmiec and worked for one year with Bishop Malone.

grosz-on-protocol

 

As this diocesan protocol indicates, Auxiliary Bishop Grosz was given the responsibility of “undertaking the preliminary inquiry regarding the allegation,” contacting all victims who reached out to the Diocese (through the IRCP or otherwise), and “offering an apology.” He was also the one who contacted and met personally with all of the accused priests when a new allegation surfaced. He would meet regularly with the men known as “the unassignable priests” or “the unsassignables.” You would think he’d be “good cop” with the survivors and “bad cop” with the accused priests, but it was entirely the opposite as the story below will demonstrate.

Over the course of several months last spring, I read or heard many victim testimonies in one form or another. They were all compelling. They were all heartbreaking. They were all unforgettable. Many of these powerful testimonies are ones that can’t be shared due to the descriptions or references they contain. However there is one that I can share with you due to the nature of the letter and the generosity and conviction of its author.

The author’s name and any identifying elements have been redacted. I can only tell you that the author is a victim of a priest of the Diocese of Buffalo. He wrote this letter to Bishop Grosz last year after receiving a phone call from the Auxiliary Bishop. This remarkable man, whom I will call Brian, offers us a window into the survivor’s world – what they experience as victims and how they are treated by the Diocese in the person of Bishop Grosz.

Brian begins with this haunting description of the enduring trauma survivors experience:

I want to tell you what happens to a sexual abuse victim. The best analogy I have heard is to think of a little glass marble and what happens to it when you throw it very hard at the sidewalk or a concrete wall. It typically doesn’t break, but the shock is absorbed by a crack at the core. This is what happens to sex abuse victims; there is an interior brokenness and intense guilt and self-loathing that manifests in negative behaviors and attitudes as well as additions to sex, alcohol, food, sugars, drugs, gambling, shopping, working out, shoplifting, you name it. These behaviors are repeated and become a destructive pattern with the sole purpose to change and mask the way you feel. The negative actions create more guilt, more interior negativity and the cycle continues until your problems pile up and become incredibly difficult to address. A sexual abuse victim ends up with a hole in their soul.

This is one of the best descriptions of sexual abuse that I’ve ever read or heard of. That last line is heartbreaking. Brian’s concept of the “little glass marble” is incredibly insightful and powerful. After his introductory remarks, Brian then proceeds to explain the primary purpose of his letter – to make Bishop Grosz aware of the negative impact of his phone call to Brian:

Now with respect to our phone call. I was at first hesitant, but then told your social worker that I would like a call with an apology not realizing it would be your highly subjective view of the entire clergy abuse dilemma as well as a new cross-examination regarding the sexual abuse I experienced. I naively expected our call to be a short and contrite apology. This is the number one thing I would suggest to you. Make it a quick call and simply say the church is sorry for what happened and offer the counseling services, etc.

To out of the blue start asking me if (my abuser) entered me anally without first asking permission to discuss what I reported was very crass and insensitive. You asked me if I made this report because of what I saw in the paper. The implication is that I’m just piling on with a bunch of others and looking for a pay check. When you said, “This isn’t a big deal because it happens everywhere,” I really wanted to either start screaming or just hang up on you. But I promised my wife I would be decent if you ever called.

The truth is, and you can verify with your social worker, what happened to me earlier this year was plunging me into a deep depression for about 2 months as I felt bombarded with messages about abuse by priests. [Experts] are sure this is a post-traumatic stress response and I clearly see that point. Sex abuse has been a topic I have not wanted to read or hear about over the years. The reason I am making this request is to try to stand up for ‘little Brian.’ That is also why I am writing this letter.

[A priest I talked to over 10 years ago] was very kind and understanding with me even sending me a note of encouragement and support and I very much appreciate the embodiment of Christian love he extended to me. I think that is what you need to do on these calls. Keep it short, be loving, be apologetic, offer help within the confines of the programs you have established, but don’t try to explain how you see things or share your opinions. It’s just not a good approach.

It was gut-wrenching to read about Bishop Grosz’s call to Brian. I was utterly appalled. I’d already heard from multiple victims that they had not benefited from their phone call with Bishop Grosz, but I had no idea just what he was saying to them. Several survivors told me that they didn’t want Bishop Grosz to know their name, but that he would not accept their telephonic anonymity and insisted on calling them “Joe” despite their protests. One of them became very upset at being called that incorrect name repeatedly.  Still others would get very upset if I even mentioned that Bishop Grosz was willing to speak with them: “Oh no, no! Please don’t transfer me to him! I don’t ever want to talk to that man again! Please don’t do that! You’re not going to transfer me to him, right? Because I don’t even want to hear his voice!” These were all comments that I heard from survivors last spring. I was always startled by the tone of their voice – some sounded truly panicked at the thought of speaking with Bishop Grosz.

After reading Brian’s letter, I understood their distress in a much more vivid way. I am deeply grateful to Brian for allowing me to share his letter with you so that you might gain a better understanding of Bishop Grosz’s horrible treatment of survivors.

To this day, Bishop Grosz continues to be directly involved with the abuse scandal response within our diocese. He is the bishop survivors hear from and we know how that goes. Meanwhile, Bishop Malone publicly lauds himself for reaching out to survivors while hardly ever meeting with them. So very many survivors came forward to the diocese last year in response to Bishop Malone’s public call for them to do so. But Bishop Malone has met with 4 or 5 of them over the past year. Instead, he has Bishop Grosz take care of such “outreach.” Based on Brian’s testimony, it’s no surprise that very few survivors have anything even remotely positive to say about Bishop Grosz.

In recent days, Father Ryszard has shared the unbelievable story of how Bishop Grosz harassed, threatened, bullied and silenced him regarding Father Ryszard’s abuse by Father Art Smith. Bishop Grosz’s actions seem criminal and are certainly morally reprehensible. What he did to Father Ryszard is unthinkably cruel and calculating.

It is important to remember that Father Art Smith is one of Bishop Grosz’ classmates. It has been well known for years – especially among the priests – that Bishop Grosz covers for and protects his classmates and other select priests. These select priests are usually Polish Americans since Grosz is Polish American well. Yet Bishop Grosz does not protect an actually Polish seminarian who has been abused!!

Of the 15 members of Bishop Grosz’s 1971 seminary class, 5 of them have been publicly accused of sexual abuse and misconduct. Leising and Riter were reinstated, Maryanski was kept safe for decades, Nogaro was recently named in a CVA suit and thus suspended, and Father Art Smith was given a $1,300 a month condo for years (on the diocese’s dime) along with a host of other very special treatments.

Bishop Grosz is not fit for any kind of leadership let alone serving as Auxiliary Bishop of a diocese. The fact that he’s been in that position in our diocese for nearly 30 years is appalling. (He was consecrated on 2/2/1990). Next February 16th, he will turn 75. He has made it abundantly clear for several years now that he wants to retire as soon as possible upon reaching that magic number when bishops must submit their resignations. He is literally counting down the weeks.

Bishop Grosz should not be allowed to ride off into a rosy sunset as Yetter and others have tried to do. Bishop Grosz must be held accountable for his appalling actions, multiple cover-ups, and utterly complicit behavior. We cannot permit him to get away with what he has done over the course of three decades and to victims like Ryszard and Brian. Bishop Grosz has hidden away and avoided public scrutiny for long enough. He cannot get away with it any longer!

~~~~~~

malone lipuma biernat

The photo above captures Bishop Malone with his former and current priest secretaries – Msgr. David G. LiPuma and Father Ryszard Biernat. This photo was taken in October of 2013, which was less than 4 months after Father Ryszard took over for Msgr. LiPuma as Secretary to the Bishop. But it was nearly 10 years after Father Ryszard was abused by Father Art Smith, as he describes in this heartrending video.

Guess who knew about Father Ryszard’s abuse as soon as it was reported to the Diocese? Monsignor David LiPuma.

Guess who did absolutely nothing to help Seminarian Ryszard? Monsignor David LiPuma.

Guess who assisted in the ongoing cover up of Father Art Smith’s crime against Seminarian Ryszard? Monsignor David LiPuma.

Guess who knew that Seminarian Ryszard’s case was not properly processed and never even sent to the diocesan lawyers yet did nothing about it? Monsignor David LiPuma.

Guess who was Bishop Kmiec’s right-hand man when he suspended Father Art Smith’s ministry in the spring of 2012? Monsignor David LiPuma.

Guess who was Bishop Malone’s right-hand man when he reinstated Father Art Smith to ministry at the Brothers of Mercy in November of 2012? Monsignor David LiPuma.

Guess who personally called and arranged with the Brothers of Mercy for Father Art Smith to minister at their campus without warning the Brothers of Mercy about Father Art’s history of abuse? Monsignor David LiPuma.

Guess who was informed of two allegations of sexual misconduct by Father Art Smith at the Brothers of Mercy but did nothing to hold Father Art Smith accountable or inform proper authorities? Monsignor David LiPuma.

Guess who communicated regularly with Father Art Smith and conveyed his requests and concerns to Bishop Malone as this detailed, handwritten memo indicates? Monsignor David LiPuma.

Guess who was continuously solicitous and attentive to a priest with multiple allegations against him while ignoring the plight of a seminarian who was abused by this very priest? Monsignor David LiPuma.

Guess who unscrupulously handed off his significant Chancery role of Secretary to the Bishop and Vice-Chancellor to the young Polish priest who he knew was abused as a Seminarian? Monsignor David LiPuma.

Guess who is the current Chairman of the Presbyteral Council (priest advisors) for our Diocese? Monsignor David LiPuma.

Guess who spearheaded the “Year of Healing” initiative within the Diocese of Buffalo? Monsignor David LiPuma.

Guess who Bishop Malone appointed Rector of Our Lady of Victory Basilica, the crown jewel of our diocese, this past June? Monsignor David LiPuma.

Guess who was appointed by Bishop Malone to the Movement to Restore Trust’s Join Implementation Team as a diocesan representative? Monsignor David LiPuma.

JIT

Guess who stifled a survivor’s attempt to publicly speak about their experience as a survivor and a Catholic? Monsignor David LiPuma.

Guess which priest “plays the game better than anyone else,” according to more than a few of his brother priests? Monsignor David LiPuma.

Guess who has long been considered the favorite (of Mansell, Kmiec and Malone) to be named a bishop himself? Monsignor David LiPuma.

Guess who will become a bishop over my dead body? Monsignor David LiPuma.

Monsignor David LiPuma is a high-ranking, card-carrying member of the Good Old Boys Club. He is a significant, long-term part of the corrupt, corporate culture that exists within our Diocese. He has covered up crimes. He has shown much more concern for an accused priest than for an abused seminarian. Yet he has been routinely promoted and regularly lauded by Bishop Malone, who considers him a personal friend.

~~~~~~~~

There needs to be a total house cleaning at the Chancery*. As soon as I can, I will write a piece about Sister Regina Murphy, Chancellor, and Steve Halter, Director of the Office of Professional Responsibility. But for now, I want to focus your attention on Bishop Grosz and Msgr. LiPuma.

Malone must go. Grosz and LiPuma need to follow him out the door. They cannot remain in leadership in our diocese. 

corrupt

*Female administrative staff not included.

Photo of Bishop Malone and priests taken from this article: https://www.wnypapers.com/news/article/current/2013/10/04/112881/buffalo-bishop-richard-malone-visits-our-lady-of-peace

 

 

19 thoughts on “Grosz & LiPuma

  • Thanks I think. I don’t know how much more I can handle but you continue to inspire me Siobhan.. Father Paul Seil also just spent 20 minutes on WBEN with Susan and Brian. He said he was going to sign the letter from Fr. Zilliox. . It was a good interview. He was very forthcoming and nice like you. Have a blessed day.

    Dennis

    Sent from my iPad

    >

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  • These two, along with Malone are disgusting! They all three should be no part of our diocese! They are all evil men who call themselves “men of God” and Shepherds, and leaders. They all broke their vows to God by letting this abuse continue, to cover it up, and continue to abuse victims to this day! Including Father Ryszard. If we don’t get these three lying, cowardly, bullies out of our diocese, our Catholic Church is doomed! We need a true leader, an honest leader, men that will shepherd their flocks with love, compassion and follow the way a true disciple of Jesus would.
    These men are a disgrace to the name of Jesus and the Catholic Church! They don’t care about the victims! They only care about themselves! They should not be allowed to wear a collar and call themselves priests. Priests are good and holy men that care about their people. That would sacrifice anything to help end this abuse and all these lies! You good and holy priests, I know you’re out there. It’s time to stop the silence! It’s time to speak up against these three men and tell the truth! You act like you’re more afraid of these three then you are of God! Ask yourselves what would Jesus do? You know He would never let this continue! He would do everything He could to help these victims! God does not want any of his children hurt and these three just continue to hurt them more and more everyday!
    The true definition of a priest is Father Ryszard Biernat. God must be so proud of him. I know I am.
    Please help us start over and do the right thing before our Catholic Church exists no more. It’s dying right before our eyes!
    Please help our victims and save our church!

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  • Due to our fallen human nature, history, inexorably, is bound to repeat itself. I cannot help to see the uncanny similarities of this Buffalo Diocesan Leadership in contrast with the ancient Jewish Sanhedrin, veritably all the elements are here for us to contemplate. After all, like its ancient counterpart, it has 2 High Priests [Malone=Caiaphas, and Grosz=Hannas], there is also an abundance of assorted complicit priests, Levites, scribes and Pharisees, who are subservient slaves of the Temple of human respect. This den of vipers [see the Gospel] seems to be a faithful reflection, or better a reproduction of that old corrupt boys’ club. Even the populace of today echoes the same sentiments of long ago; I have been to 3 Listening Sessions, and all I could hear, for the most part, was: “CRUCIFY HER, CRUCIFY HER (the Church)”.
    Two elements of this re-play I haven’t clearly identified as yet:
    1) PONTIUS, that famous Pilate who washed his hands; perhaps could be MRT, or maybe the civil prosecutors and judges? (this has to be Laity).
    2) Who will get the 30 pieces of silver? (this has to be a cleric) I am willing to bet that will be the longest serving secretary to the High Priest.
    Of course Barabbas will figure also in this re-played drama, being those abuser priests who will “GET AWAY” (for various reasons) with their heinous crimes.
    So, there you have it folks! We can choose to sit on our favorite chair, munch popcorn and watch this drama unfold.
    OR!!!! We can choose to do something about it. We can stand up and be CHAMPIONS OF THE BRIDE (the Church)
    by protesting diocesan corruption, carry signs, voice our displeasure, and pray, pray, pray.
    Timidity is not an option, inaction is complicity, and in these dark times silence is the biggest crime. Our Lord told us that: “THOSE WHO ARE ASHAMED OF ME AND MY CHURCH, I WILL BE ASHAMED OF THEM ON JUDGMENT DAY”
    Therefore, drop the popcorn and stand with us.

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    • Thank you, Tony, for this analogy. It brings to mind an important point: what if Christ’s sacrificial death added a fundamental twist to the age old story of good and evil? What if the High Priest here in Buffalo (Malone) is now standing in the stead of Christ, who was persecuted and crucified by people just like us for the SINS of OTHERS, not his own? We must remember that in the eyes of God there’s a big difference between making mistakes as we all do–such as forgiving an apparently unrepentant or habitual sinner–and committing a mortal sin ourselves. For what parent hasn’t forgiven their own children (or themselves) over and over, seventy times seven according to the command of God that we forgive, NOT judge or condemn others? God is merciful to mistake-makers and REPENTANT sinners and we must be merciful to them too.

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      • Jesus, the second Person of the Trinity, IS NOT A TRICKSTER. His Death on the Cross DID NOT ADD (as you say) any fundamental twist. His sacrifice IS crystal-clear, only and ONLY for our Redemption. Twists, turns and distorted reflections are the manufactures of Satan.
        Malone IS INDEED standing for Christ in this Diocese, being truly a successor to the Holy Apostles, however, his clerical status does not invests him with automatic purity and holiness. Remember Judas from Iscariot was also one of the twelve, did he perchance stand in the stead for Christ? So…. it is possible or conceivable that Malone might have come from Iscariot, or emulating him?
        If I read you correctly, you would condone the ruined lives by priests abusers, and give a pass to Malone for shielding them; all of these for the sake and in the name of Christian forgiveness. Please! Don’t confuse forgiveness for being a door mat, or seeking justice with hateful revenge, either human or Divine.

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      • Hey, Art Smith. This is not TOPIX, Please leave us in peace to pick up the debris of scattered souls you left behind. Malone/Grosz/LiPuma put you back in ministry knowing you had the propensity to abuse again, which you did. They put laypeople in harm’s way. Your shameful smokescreen of holy scripture reveals your identity. The devil quotes scripture too.

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      • I don’t believe you understand what I’m trying to say, Tony. As someone who is intimately familiar with the lifelong struggles of victims of sexual abuse and assault (first off, their violated bodies and forever altered psyches; their post traumatic stress symptoms; their unbearable anger rendered impotent by profound feelings of brokenness and guilt; the envy of the carefree lives of others that plagues them; the recurrent major depressions, resentments, nightmares and insomnia; the fearful, tearful experiences of profound alienation, addictions, and temptations to suicide—to name only a few), I do NOT condone what you perceive as these “ruined lives of victims.” Instead, I praise the abundant beneficent grace of the God who truly can and truly does heal and resurrect them! This is the same good God who shepherds our holy church so closely and tenderly that whatever we do to her we do to Him—clergy and laity alike.
        When the lawyers came into town, I got a robo call—maybe you did too—eliciting complaints against the church and promising compensation and “justice.” Now, I am aware of the unspeakable wrongs committed by some and the failures of others, and I condemn those wrongs and absolutely demand better. But I also find it terribly sad and even tragic that poor innocent victims are now being rounded up and persuaded to exploit their own church for the mutual benefit of themselves, the media, and carpetbag lawyers. According to the teaching of Jesus, rendering our redemptive suffering to Cesar in exchange for money and converting our hope for justice into demands for retribution leads us in the opposite direction of heaven. Retribution is easy, fueled as it is by passion, but finally it is impotent and empty (as revealed by the empty tomb). Justice is different. Justice is attained when some great spiritual good emerges from long or severe suffering to triumph over evil. While some abuser must repent, some victim must truly forgive for justice to be satisfied, money cannot buy a movement of the heart and the law can’t impose it.
        Thanks to the deplorable works of Satan among us and the concupiscence of a few men, no priest today can dare recommend forgiveness to his parishioners without being publicly persecuted, judged and roundly condemned by the multitude. But we still do have the example of Jesus to look up to, our true High Priest nailed upon a cross over every altar, who begged forgiveness for all of us–you and me too. His was not the act of a doormat condoning His own crucifixion. It was the act of God Himself clearing a path to redemption and resurrection for all of us who labor in the midst of this fallen world to follow his command to forgive those who trespass against us along with every last sinner who repents.
        I know of a man who was abused by a priest who attends Mass daily. There he receives the grace to bear the significant psychological and emotional scars that were unjustly inflicted upon him and to transcend them. Recently he was heard to say “I don’t take from the church, I give to it.” And I know of another man, abused by a priest, who no longer contributes to the church and who, in proud outrage, demands justice for himself but refuses forgiveness to others. I fear mightily that his terrible suffering could all be for naught if he arrives before God in this sorry state, victim though he is. Just look around; not only the church but the whole wide world is full of victims, and it was ever thus. Yet justice still demands that the measure we measure with be measured back to us someday.

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      • Your lack of empathy for victims is disturbing, your spiritual logic is twisted at best, you write like a man pretending to be a woman, most certainly you hide behind a fake name, and frankly you sound like a priest abuser. Beside your paternalistic and condescending tone for me is…. truly revolting, honest I am not your fan.
        Your long rant seems to me like a veiled confession, is there anything bothering you?
        No, really, I do understand the compelling need of your long confession, but don’t stop now, come clean.
        Confessing like you just did, can be the first step in your repentance process. I sincerely hope so!

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  • Guess who was dismissed from religious life and has spent the past years trying to make sense of how a religious congregation was able to identify serious issues regarding spiritual and mental health: you.

    Guess who’s trying to navigate her feelings of betrayed trust and empathy while having to acknowledge one of her closest priest friends has been engaged in a questionable relationship with a man who eventually entered the seminary: you.

    Guess who’s effectively bullshitted people who don’t know how the church actually functions to believe she’s uncovered something that is wrong and immoral: you.

    Guess who doesn’t understand the legal ramifications that await her for libel and slander no matter how protected you think you are with New York State Whistle blower laws (thanks legal precedent regarding church and state): you.

    Guess who’s aware that the religious order Charlie Specht’s brother belongs to staffed CKS for many years and one friar has a history of serious allegations against him yet Charlie seems to not report this information: you.

    The convent was right to dismiss you. In your moments of clarity you know this. In your moments of pathology you subject others to your pain.

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    • Guess who is casting stones; you must be sinless and ivory pure. I am truly impressed by your similitudes.
      You judging things you don’t even know about with certainty, and BTW, you reference to BS tells me plenty.
      Were you there with mother superior when she left the convent? And did mother superior informed you and consulted with you on the circumstances? Did sister Siobhan sought any kind of counseling from you?
      You simply choose to believe what others have said or calumniated about her with the sole purpose to discredit her.
      In regard to Siobhan casting stones, FYI, these are NOT of the same quality as yours.
      IT WAS A MORAL IMPERATIVE, having become aware of the corruption and immorality, unbecoming any follower of Christ, INDEED IT WAS HER SACRED DUTY, to reveal the putrid mess fermenting at the Chancery. To pretend not to see, would have meant to be an accomplice to those horrendous crimes, in the eyes of God and society.
      None of us standing with Siobhan feel that somehow she has BS’ed us, and frankly you are the one that doesn’t know how the Church functions.
      Please, reflect on your apparent and clear criticism, and yes pray for Bishop Malone and others.

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    • Ha! Good try, David. But your flat-out sleazy calumny doesn’t quite work, does it? Her bullet points are objective truths. Allow me to put it in language you can understand: He did not lift one finger to aid the abused seminarian (heck, he never even offered an apology–still!) He coddled (did you read the document?) the abuser and went to extraordinary measures to cover for him, even making sure only Malone read some “negative” letter (poor Artsie). He never informed the Brothers of Mercy that Artie had a propensity to, um, cross boundaries to satisfy his sexual appetites. Oh. Guess he must have forgotten.Tell that to the two subsequent victims. Did he do anything to inform the parishioners at his various parishes that they had a sexual predator in their midst? Look, we can go on and on. Her points are accurate. She’s not on trial, David. You are. Now, go say a Rosary for the salvation of your immortal soul. I’ll say one for you too. No, really. I will.

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      • Also it seems that when people resort to “ad hominem” arguments they might in reality be saying more about themselves than about the person they’re trying to attack.

        Liked by 1 person

  • Thank you, Siobhan, for providing this forum for discussion and ESPECIALLY for resisting the temptation to silence opinions which don’t comport with your own. We need to persevere in civil discourse even if it’s heated. After all, Jesus came “not to bring peace, but division.” I don’t think it’s mere coincidence that yesterday’s National Catholic Register article “Pope Francis Addresses Criticism of His Pontificate and Discusses ‘Schism'” took up this issue; I think it’s the guidance of the Holy Spirit!

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