New York News

New York Bishops Make ‘Ad Limina’ Visits to the Vatican

Bishop Nicholas A. DiMarzio of Brooklyn and other U.S. bishops from the state of New York walk through the Apostolic Palace after meeting Pope Francis at the Vatican Nov. 15, 2019. At left is Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger of Albany. The bishops were making their "ad limina" visits to the Vatican to report on the status of their dioceses to the pope and Vatican officials.

Bishop Nicholas A. DiMarzio of Brooklyn walks through the Apostolic Palace after U.S. bishops from the state of New York met Pope Francis at the Vatican Nov. 15, 2019. The bishops were making their "ad limina" visits to the Vatican to report on the status of their dioceses to the pope and Vatican officials.

Bishop Salvatore R. Matano of Rochester, Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo and other U.S. bishops from the state of New York walk through the Apostolic Palace after meeting Pope Francis at the Vatican Nov. 15, 2019. The bishops were making their "ad limina" visits to the Vatican to report on the status of their dioceses to the pope and Vatican officials.

Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger of Albany and Auxiliary Bishop Octavio Cisneros of Brooklyn walk through the Apostolic Palace after meeting Pope Francis at the Vatican Nov. 15, 2019. The bishops were making their "ad limina" visits to the Vatican to report on the status of their dioceses to the pope and Vatican officials.

From left to right: Auxiliary Bishops Neil E. Tiedemann and Witold Mroziewski of Brooklyn and other bishops from the state of New York walk through the Apostolic Palace after meeting Pope Francis at the Vatican Nov. 15, 2019. The bishops were making their "ad limina" visits to the Vatican to report on the status of their dioceses to the pope and Vatican officials. (Photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

The Tablet Staff

Bishops from across New York state — including Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio and the auxiliary bishops of the Brooklyn Diocese — have concluded their joint ad limina visit to report on the status of their dioceses to Pope Francis. 

A quinquennial ad limina is a formal trip that occurs every five years, in which all bishops from a single region meet with the Holy Father to share updates on the latest developments in their respective churches. 

As part of the Nov. 11-15 visits, the bishops spoke with Pope Francis on topics close to their hearts and their communities, including education and the plight of immigrants. They also shared some of the obstacles they’ve encountered in their ministry, among them a culture “which treats unborn lives as dispensable,” as described by Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger of Albany. 

They also discussed how Christian principles are at times subject to mistreatment and often are described as divisive political or partisan issues.

During the trip to the Vatican, bishops from the Brooklyn Diocese also presented the documents for Monsignor Bernard Quinn’s cause for canonization for review by the Vatican. 

The bishops celebrated four special Masses over the course of the five-day trip, with a concluding Mass on Nov. 15 celebrated by Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York. 

The ad limina visits come on the heels of an apostolic visitation and examination into the Diocese of Buffalo. The bishop there, Richard J. Malone, has been met with claims of mishandling abuse allegations in his diocese and has faced repeated pressure to resign. In early October, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio was appointed by the Vatican to lead the investigation into Bishop Malone. 

Bishop DiMarzio, who completed the investigation at the end of October, submitted his report to Pope Francis during the ad limina visits. 

At the same time, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio is now strongly refuting an allegation that he sexually abused a minor in the 1970s while he was a priest in the Archdiocese of Newark, N.J.  A report from the Associated Press on Nov. 13 claims that when Bishop DiMarzio was a priest at St. Nicholas Parish in Jersey City, N.J., he abused a minor. The alleged victim also claims he was abused by a second priest. 

“I am just learning of this allegation,” Bishop DiMarzio said in a statement. “In my nearly 50-year ministry as a priest, I have never engaged in unlawful or inappropriate behavior and I categorically deny this allegation. I am confident I will be fully vindicated.”  

Since 2002, the Brooklyn Diocese has shared all of its files and allegations against priests with the district attorneys of Brooklyn and Queens. In 2004, as the new bishop of Brooklyn, Bishop DiMarzio established a telephone reporting line for anyone to call with allegations of sexual abuse by a member of the clergy.

In 2009, Bishop DiMarzio published a presentation that outlined the Diocese of Brooklyn’s efforts to investigate and report abuse and described the diocese’s protocol regarding accountability, reconciliation, prevention and victim assistance. Bishop DiMarzio also celebrates an annual Mass for healing that is planned by victim-survivors.

In February 2019, Bishop DiMarzio authorized the release of the names of 108 priests from the diocese credibly accused of child abuse over the diocese’s 166-year history. The bulk of cases involved priests ordained between 1930 and 1979. The diocese said there have been just two local cases since the U.S. Church enacted reforms in 2002.

The Diocese of Camden, where Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio was first a bishop from 1999-2003, released a statement Nov. 13 in support of Bishop DiMarzio, citing the bishop’s record in the diocese of confronting clerical sexual abuse. Under Bishop DiMarzio, the Diocese of Camden was the first diocese in the United States to have a toll-free phone number for victims to report abuse, which it still maintains.

Bishop DiMarzio is returning to New York from Rome Friday night.

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