By Christopher White, National Correspondent
NEW YORK — Under the new protocols for bishop accountability, Cardinal Timothy Dolan will formally conduct an investigation into an allegation against Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio that he abused an altar boy nearly 50 years ago.
Bishop DiMarzio has consistently denied the allegation and said he looks forward to “having his good name cleared and restored.”
The New York Post on Jan. 18 first reported that Cardinal Dolan was “ordered” to investigate Bishop DiMarzio. The Post’s report, however, didn’t mention that this is part of a standard process for any U.S. bishop facing an allegation of abuse.
Under the Vatican guidelines of “Vos estis lux mundi,” which were initially issued last May, Cardinal Dolan, as the metropolitan archbishop of New York, is responsible for carrying out the investigation initiated by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).
Cardinal Dolan, under the new guidelines adopted by the U.S. bishops last June, is tasked with carrying out investigations for any allegations reported against bishops in the state’s eight Catholic dioceses.
The allegation against Bishop DiMarzio was first reported on Nov. 13 by the Associated Press. In the report, prominent attorney Mitchell Garabedian alleged that Bishop DiMarzio repeatedly abused an altar boy at St. Nicholas Parish in Jersey City, N.J., in the 1970s.
Garabedian sent a letter to the Archdiocese of Newark, N.J., informing it that he intended to file a lawsuit in December, when New Jersey’s look-back window for cases that had passed the statute of limitations opened.
To date, however, no lawsuit has been brought against the Archdiocese of Newark or Bishop DiMarzio, but the New York Post didn’t report that fact. Representatives from the Diocese of Brooklyn have confirmed that Bishop DiMarzio has retained counsel and is ready to mount a defense if a lawsuit is filed.
On Oct. 3, Bishop DiMarzio was selected by Pope Francis to conduct an apostolic visitation to the Diocese of Buffalo, N.Y., to investigate allegations that Bishop Richard Malone mishandled sexual abuse cases. Following a monthlong fact-finding mission, Bishop DiMarzio submitted a written report of his findings to the Vatican.
News of Garabedian’s imminent lawsuit against Bishop DiMarzio broke following the completion of Bishop DiMarzio’s fact-finding mission, but before an outcome was announced. Bishop Malone resigned on Dec. 4.
“Since the allegation [against Bishop DiMarzio] was announced two months ago, there has been a tremendous outpouring of support for Bishop DiMarzio, from here in the Diocese of Brooklyn and from the people he has served throughout his 50-year ministry, including parishioners from his time as parochial vicar at St. Nicholas Church in Jersey City,” the Diocese of Brooklyn said in a statement in response to the Vos estis investigation.
“Bishop DiMarzio is recognized as a leader in the fight against sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. Even before the mandates of the 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, Bishop DiMarzio created protocols when he was the bishop in the Diocese of Camden from 1999-2003 to ensure that children were protected and that victims received the care they need,” the statement continued.
Bishop DiMarzio has led the Diocese of Brooklyn since 2003 and has regularly collaborated with Cardinal Dolan since he was named archbishop in 2009. Most recently, the two spoke together at a rally against anti-Semitism in Brooklyn.
In June, Bishop DiMarzio submitted his letter of resignation to Pope Francis as is required by church law when a bishop turns 75. Pope Francis, however, has yet to accept the resignation, and Bishop DiMarzio will remain in his post during the investigation.
“He will vigorously defend himself against this false claim and is confident the truth will prevail,” the diocese said.