Jesus says: “…the person who is dishonest in very small matters is also dishonest in great ones.” — Luke 16:10; the headline is from Psalm 144
One solitary document signed by Bishop Richard Malone in 2015 red-pilled many of us when it surfaced last year on WKBW I-Team’s first report on Rev. Art Smith. Objective, verifiable “misrepresentation of the truth” undermines the foundations of the promise our bishop made to his flock. Then in January, 2019, he doubled down.
In signing off on a false statement, Malone put young people at risk. But that’s not the only concern in this case.
What we witness with this and a companion document is just one example of the systemic culture of secrecy and coverup that is designed to protect the institution at the expense of children and vulnerable adults. The extraordinary measures diocesan officials engage in to perpetuate years of coverup and out-right lies is breathtaking when we consider the scope of their reach (even through time) and depth of their depravity.
Let’s take a peek into this one case.
Bishop Malone knowingly submitted a false letter of endorsement attesting to the moral character, reputation and psychological fitness of a known sexual predator priest to serve on board a cruise ship. As it is a legal document, his act is a crime. It is also an objective sin. It is manifestly in defiance of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ “Dallas Charter” establishing protocols for priests assigned outside their diocese.1 Let’s break down what happened.
In an effort to perform its due diligence in vetting Roman Catholic priests who apply to serve on cruise ships, a program overseeing ship chaplains sought Bishop Malone’s verification for Rev. Art Smith who had applied. Let’s examine what Bishop Malone did with this honest attempt of an agency to vet a priest for the safety of passengers on board:
- filled his letter with objectively verifiable false statements attesting to Smith’s moral and psychological fitness to minister on their ship to young people. The first four of the five bullet points, the bishop knew to be objectively FALSE as he confirms in his letter to the Vatican two months later.
- knowingly put children and young people at risk.
- had his vice-chancellor, Fr. Ryszard Biernat (who is also allegedly one of Art Smith’s abuse victims!), notarize Malone’s signature on it. Here we must pause to ask: What kind of man would order an abuse victim to have anything to do with a document attesting to the safety and moral virtues of his own molester?! That this is abuse of a manager over a subordinate is a given. It is also abuse of authority of a bishop over a priest. But the particular circumstances of this request push it to a level of reprehensible behavior of any human being, bishop or not.
This single document alone is all anyone would need to call for the immediate resignation of a president or CEO in any company. But not the Catholic Church (or the Movement to Restore Trust which took almost an entire year to come to that conclusion.)
But the story is more depraved than what appears.
Two years earlier, Malone received verification that Smith was still not to be trusted around young adults. The reported incidents occurred at the nursing facility where Malone assigned Smith upon resurrecting his ministry. This letter proves the bishop knew Smith was still operating as a sexual predator.
Again, this letter was received two years before Bishop Malone signed the cruise ship affidavit attesting to Smith’s character, reputation and safety around young people.
Then, two months after signing the cruise ship affidavit, Bishop Malone wrote a letter to the Vatican detailing the many sexual escapades and misdeeds of Rev. Art Smith completely contradicting the glowing letter of confidence he wrote to the cruise ship agency.
But that’s not all.
At the end of his letter to the Vatican summarizing Smith’s “unfortunate incidences” (including grooming an 8th grader and the 2004 sexual molestation of a seminarian–Malone’s own priest-secretary), the bishop incredulously and coldly states that he granted Smith full faculties to function as a priest in the Diocese of Buffalo. All the while the laity were kept in the dark. In legal terms, they were put at risk. Willfully. Deliberately.
Bishop Malone didn’t stop there.
This past January, when confronted with news of a layperson (me) attempting to expose the diocese’s coverup of Smith’s alleged sexual molestation of the seminarian , Malone doubled down.
According to Fr. Ryszard (who was Malone’s secretary/Vice Chancellor at the time), instead of denying my allegations as part of the “official diocesan response,” Malone chose to perpetuate the coverup in an artful way using a subordinate. Persuading others to lie is a sin. For a Catholic bishop to ask a priest to lie is also an abuse of authority given the vow of obedience priests take. Fr. Ryszard testified that Bishop Malone asked him to call me to tell me everything was okay. It’s all in the past. It’s just fine. “I’m fine,” he was asked by the bishop to say to me to encourage me to back off my attempt to expose this 15-year-old coverup. “I’m fine,” he was asked to say. That statement should cause us to take a deep breath, especially in light of the recent gut-wrenching television interviews of Fr. Ryszard.
Let’s put this another way: The bishop asked him (the abuse survivor!) to take an active part in perpetuating the coverup of his molestation by a priest Malone actively harbored. That goes beyond abuse of authority. It is an objective abuse of another human being.
WBEN Radio interview of Fr. Ryszard
September 10, 2019
In this audio file, please fast-forward to 5:00 mark on the sound bar timeline. The testimony about the lie is at the 6:00 mark. Fr. Ryszard never communicated that lie to me, the object of the two bishops’ ire.
Earlier this month, Malone’s auxiliary bishop, heretofore completely silent and ignored by news media, finally was smoked out of his comfortable hiding place with Fr. Ryszard’s public allegations of Grosz’s retaliatory threats to him when he was a seminarian. Fr. Ryszard’s painful revelations of the nature of the alleged threats preventing him from reporting Smith’s alleged molestation to authorities has been widely covered. In the aftermath, no surprise here. Auxiliary Bishop Edward Grosz doubles down, as Fr. Ryszard said he did to his face back in January.
What is not noted in this interview is the fact that not only did Fr. Ryszard testify to the threats which prevented him from going to the police, but I testified to hearing about them from Fr. Ryszard in 2006. By extension, anyone who knew of Grosz’s threats of retaliation was ALSO under his threats since the threats carried with them canonical censure against the seminarian which would have singularly prevented him from EVER becoming a priest. One of Grosz’s alleged threats the seminarian reported to me in 2006: “You don’t know who you’re dealing with.” This can easily be interpreted as a threat of bodily harm upon the seminarian as well. It was not taken lightly.
Jesus said: “Woe also to you scholars of the law! You impose on people burdens hard to carry, but you yourselves do not lift one finger to touch them.” –Luke 11: 46
Finally, the alleged perpetrator has his say in the matter. He too doubles down.
Spectrum News’ series of interviews with Rev. Art Smith. These videos speak for themselves.
Fr. Art Smith’s interview with Spectrum News – background to abuse claims
BY MARK GOSHGARIAN CITY OF BUFFALO
UPDATED 8:27 PM ET SEP. 12, 2019
Amidst background to abuse claims, Smith artfully denies allegations.
Spectrum News’ extensive interview with Art Smith Part I
BY MARK GOSHGARIAN BUFFALO
UPDATED 9:24 PM ET SEP. 13, 2019
An alleged victim (his nephew) is also interviewed. “I Believe, in the depths of my being, that I have been accused falsely,” says Smith. Like ex-Cardinal McCarrick, he chooses his words carefully. In fact, the two interviews (McCarrick’s and Smith’s) are strikingly similar.
By Mark Goshgarin
8:21PM ET September 16, 2019
In this interview, Smith expresses breathless gratitude to Bishop Malone for re-instating him back in ministry after Bishop Kmiec finally removed him from ministry a full seven years after the 2004 alleged molestation of the seminarian and only upon evidence that he groomed an 8th grader. “He gave me my life back,” Smith said, without being challenged by the interviewer with the fact (via Malone’s testimony to the Vatican) that Smith went on to sexually harass two young men in his very first assignment by Malone.
Two other alleged victims of Smith’s abuse were also interviewed in this report including Smith’s own nephew and Fr. Ryszard. Both men were pressed in the interview to go into graphic details of their alleged assaults. Palpable to anyone with a pulse is the grueling humiliation envisaged on the faces of these grown men torn to pieces by a corrupt team assembled through time to suppress their due justice and block the path in their journey to regain their human dignity.
More casualties of the diocesan war to keep up appearances.
* In 1993, television host, Phil Donahue, was among the first to expose the issue of Catholic clergy sexual abuse to a national audience. Years later, he opined: “When I was a kid, we used to have a sin called ‘giving scandal’ which meant criticizing the church. And that’s exactly how we got where we are now.”
The eighth commandment forbids misrepresenting the truth in our relations with others. This moral prescription flows from the vocation of the holy people to bear witness to their God who is the truth and wills the truth. Offenses against the truth express by word or deed a refusal to commit oneself to moral uprightness; they are fundamental infidelities to God and, in this sense, they undermine the foundations of the covenant. —Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2464
In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus teaches, “Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more comes from evil.” —Matthew 5:34
Content Evangelist, Jennifer Kane, is a secular Carmelite (OCDS), wife, mother, grandmother who worked for more than 30 years in marketing/communications holding degrees in Journalism/Communication (BA) and English (MA) from St. Bonaventure University. She authored the Vatican application for minor basilica status in 2016 for The Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels in Olean, New York from which she authored the history book of the basilica, A Place Set Apart. She previously wrote the book, A Worthy and Capable Clergyman, the second part of the history book in a slightly different format. She is founder and editor of the website, CatholicAPPtitude.org, the world’s #1 English language website cataloging/reviewing Catholic apps for mobile devices.