NEW YORK (NY)
WWNY - 7 News [Watertown NY]
August 30, 2022
By Diane Rutherford
From Ogdensburg to the Vatican. An advocate for survivors of clergy sexual abuse says the Diocese of Ogdensburg and its bishop are in a historic position – a position that could influence the future of the Catholic Church in New York state.
According to John Bellocchio, a nationally known advocate for abuse survivors, the Vatican could put Bishop Terry LaValley of the Diocese of Ogdensburg in charge of investigating one of the most prominent cardinals in the world.
Earlier this month, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York, helped the Diocese of Ogdensburg celebrate its 150th anniversary. Less than three weeks later, Dolan is accused of covering up clerical sexual abuse and trying to shield money from lawsuits filed by victims of clergy sexual abuse.
“The things that Timothy Dolan did are reprehensible. He’s never been held to account. He’s been promoted and now the world knows and it’s time to go,” said Bellocchio.
Bellocchio asked Bishop LaValley to forward the allegations to Vatican officials and civil authorities in New York.
“He transmitted the documentation that was provided to him supporting those allegations to the papal nuncio, the Vatican’s ambassador in Washington, D.C., for transmission to the Vatican,” said Bellocchio.
Why did he request LaValley? It boils down to Church law.
In New York, Dolan would ordinarily be tasked with the job. But, since he’s the accused, the duty goes to the state’s longest-serving bishop with his own diocese. That’s Terry LaValley.
“I’ve seen proposals for these investigations across the country and he accomplished in 72 hours what is often not accomplished in 72 days,” said Bellocchio.
The Vatican’s decision on an investigation could come within a month or so. If Rome consents to it, Bellocchio says the job would go to LaValley and likely a third-party attorney.
Bellocchio believes the Vatican will approve the investigation, more victims will come forward and Dolan will resign.
He says Bishop LaValley could influence the future of the Catholic Church in New York state – even becoming the next archbishop.
“Terry LaValley stands probably a reasonable chance at heading down the New York Thruway to Park Avenue,” said Bellocchio.
7 News reached out to the offices of both LaValley and Dolan for comment.
The bishop declined to talk about it “due to the nature of the correspondence.”
Dolan’s spokesperson with the Archdiocese of New York said, “These are old allegations that have long been proven to be false. There is no substance to any of this.”