Brooklyn bishop discussed abuse allegation with Pope Francis, declares his innocence on “humiliating” charges brought by one-time altar boy
By Larry Mcshane
New York Daily News
November 23, 2019
|Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio|
Pope Francis stunned long-time Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio by mentioning the sexual abuse allegations leveled against the New York priest when the pair met last week in the Vatican.
The 75-year-old DiMarzio recounted the unexpected encounter in a column for the Brooklyn Diocesan newspaper The Tablet, and once again asserted his innocence against the charge of abusing a Jersey City altar boy in 1974-75.
“I was amazed that the false accusation made against me was already known to him,” wrote DiMarzio. “(He) expressed his hope that the matter presented against me would be cleared up quickly for the good of the Diocese of Brooklyn.”
The veteran cleric was accused last week of targeting a teenage altar boy in the St. Nicholas Parish, with the charge coming as DiMarzio was meeting with the Pope to discuss his role in a probe into the sexual abuse allegations in the Diocese of Buffalo.
“The allegation is humiliating,” wrote DiMarzio. "I have never abused anyone in my life. In my nearly 50-year ministry as a priest, I have never done anything illegal or inappropriate and I look forward to my exoneration in this false accusation.
“I categorically deny this allegation and will vigorously defend myself against this claim ... Never would I have thought that as I am coming to the end of my time in active ministry, I would face such an allegation.”
The bishop offered his thanks to the diocese’s 1.5 million members for their backing in the wake of the charges, and promised to provide updates on the case.
“I am humbled by all the support I have received from you, the faithful of Brooklyn and Queens, during this difficult time,” he said. “You have a right to more information on this matter, and I pledge to you continued transparency in a future column.”
Accuser Mark Matzek, 56, is represented in his case by renowned attorney Mitchell Garabedian, whose work in abuse cases in the Archdiocese of Boston was highlighted in the Oscar-winning 2015 movie “Spotlight.”
The youth attended the grammar school in the Jersey City parish and was a regular attendee at Sunday Mass, according to the lawyer.
DMarzio is in his 16th year as the spiritual leader of the diocese, and becomes one of the highest-ranking church officials identified in the sex abuse scandal. Garabedian, played by actor Stanley Tucci in the film, called for the bishop’s immediate placement on administrative leave as his planned New Jersey lawsuit goes through the court system.