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Protest outside Christ the King Seminary, as another priest placed on administrative leave

Mike Desmond

Protesters were in front of Christ the King Seminary in East Aurora Wednesday, while Bishop Richard Malone was inside talking to priests and deacons. It was the same day another Buffalo Catholic Diocese priests was put on administrative leave while an investigation takes place.

Credit WNY Catholic
Fr. Jeffrey Nowak

Fr. Jeffrey Nowak, the pastor at Our Lady Help of Christians parish in Cheektowaga, is being investigated because of a complaint that he committed one of the worst sins in the Catholic Church: breaking the seal of the confessional. Protesters were convinced he did.

On Aug. 18, the diocese issued a statement saying it had initiated an investigation into Nowak. However, he was put on leave only Wednesday.

Protester Mary Ellen Sanfilippo was very critical of Malone, while others carried signs demanding his removal. Sanfilippo said it is time.

"I am here because I have been following this for over a year. Nothing has changed, Sanfilippo said. "The bishop is calling for the faithful to be trusting and for transparency and he's giving us nothing but lies and deceit."

Those among the protesters included a former seminarian, a claimed victim and a mom claiming very bad behavior by priests against her former seminarian son. Michael Whalen talked about being a victim of Fr. Norbert Orsolits, who has admitted molesting perhaps dozens of boys and faces many lawsuits.

"When I was telling my story, he also admitted to abusing to a couple of dozen boys that same day," Whalen said, "and almost word for word of what I was saying, he was saying. It just validated my story."

The signs carried by the protesters attacked the bishop, the way the diocese is run, the pain of those molested by priests and more personal attacks on clergy.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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