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Small demo highlights 'sickly dysfunctional' culture among seminarians

Michael Mroziak

A small group of church whistleblowers held a demonstration in front of Bishop Richard Malone's residence Sunday to call attention to what they call the "sickly dysfunctional environment" at the Buffalo Catholic Diocese's Christ the King Seminary.

Stephen Parisi, who had served as the student-elected Dean of the House, resigned from his role this week, after more than 100 local child sex abuse lawsuits were filed under the Child Victims Act. He described "allegations of blackmail,  a highly sexualized atmosphere and retaliation against seminarians" who speak out against the bishop. Parisi also called on Malone to resign and demanded "an investigation into the Seminary and its leadership."

"It is important now, more than ever, that whistleblowers against the Church and other powerful institutions be protected and safely and openly heard," he said. "The seminary is a barometer of the health of the diocese. Bishop Malone’s intractable tenure in Buffalo stands as an obstacle of healing."

In a statement, the president-rector of Christ the King, Kevin Creagh, said that the seminary respects Parisi's decision to withdraw as a seminarian. Creagh said he is "deeply impressed" with the faculty's commitment to ministry and professionalism.

A statement from the diocese went further, saying "Mr. Parisi was under investigation for academic dishonesty at Christ the King Seminary and his departure hinders any further inquiry."

The diocese also rebuted the claim that Malone ignored a complaint that Fr. Jeffrey Nowak violated the seal of the confessional.

"To the contrary, Bishop Malone has initiated an investigation of the complaint," the statement said. "Fr. Nowak has been removed from ministry while the investigation continues. The Office of Professional Responsibility has tried to contact the individual making this complaint, but he has yet to respond."

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