July 24, 2018
Victims of childhood sexual abuse involving Catholic clergyman often say they want, above all else, acknowledgement of the crimes against them. That’s why it must be especially frustrating for two Western New York men featured in Sunday’s Buffalo News when the Diocese of Buffalo refuses to take responsibility for abuse the two suffered as boys at the hands of priests working in the diocese.
The diocese says it is not responsible for the actions of priests who are accused of raping the two men, Gary Astridge and Robert Swierat, because the priests were members of religious orders, and not ordained by the diocese. This surely is a technicality that seems contrary to the spirit of the diocese’s Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program, which was set up in March to give financial compensation to victims of priest sex abuse. The policy cannot be that some victims are less equal than others.
Astridge attended the old Cardinal Dougherty High School in Buffalo. He says he was molested as a boy by a priest who taught at the school but belonged to a religious order based in California.
Swierat says in the early 1970s he was abused for two years in the rectory of St. Mary’s High School in Lancaster. The accused priest, the Rev. Loren Nys, a St. Mary’s teacher at the time, belonged to the Society of the Divine Savior Salvatorians, based in Milwaukee, Wis.
Astridge applied for compensation from the IRCP and was told by the diocese to contact the order in California instead. Swierat has been advised by the diocese not to even apply.
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