BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Bishop Richard J. Malone has resigned, but questions remain about the bishop’s men -- especially Auxiliary Bishop Edward M. Grosz, who plans to stay in his position under interim Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger.
“The changing of an auxiliary bishop is not a first priority,” Scharfenberger said Wednesday at his introductory news conference. “Bishop Ed [Grosz] has told me that he's willing to continue to serve. And so as long as he's willing to continue to serve, you know, that he would. And his status does not change because of the change in the administrator of the diocese.”
That comment did not sit well with many Catholics, who contacted 7 Eyewitness News and pointed to Bishop Grosz’s involvement in the cover-up of sexual abuse over the last 25 years.
- Documents with Grosz's handwriting on them show he had direct involvement in the cases of Fr. Art Smith and Fr. Robert Yetter, which led to a firestorm of criticism from Catholics and ultimately led to Malone's resignation.
- Earlier in 2018, Grosz was accused of a cover-up that allegedly occurred decades earlier when a seminarian wrote an account of sexual abuse of a young boy by Rev. Dennis Riter. (Riter and Grosz denied the allegations).
- A sexual abuse survivor in 2018 said Grosz callously responded to his coming forward by making "crass and insensitive" comments and allegedly telling the survivor, "This isn’t a big deal because it happens everywhere."
The I-Team asked Scharfenberger whether Grosz would see any accountability, and the new bishop seemed taken by surprise.
“A lot of Catholics have been reaching out to us and saying that they're surprised at that because some of the file cabinets in this very building have shown that over the last 40 years the, auxiliary bishop’s handwriting was literally on many of these cover-ups that have gone on here. How can people have faith and trust that the diocese under your administration is charting a new course, when you have part of the old guard still in place here.?”
“That's a very good question. But you're giving me information now that I'm hearing now today. So I did not know that. What you just told me is the...facts...I've read a lot of different things. And if that can be established and that proves to be something that would make it difficult for Bishop Grosz or any other priest of the diocese to perform their role, then that would have to be something I take into consideration and it might alter the status quo.”
Grosz is also accused of pressuring Fr. Ryszard Biernat to stay quiet about a sexual assault he allegedly suffered at the hands of Fr. Art Smith when Biernat was a seminarian. Smith denies the assault and Grosz denies he silenced Biernat, but Biernat quoted Grosz as saying, ‘Ryszard, if you don't stop talking about this, you will not become a priest. You understand me?’”
In a written statement, Grosz said, “I have always kept the best interest of the people of the Diocese of Buffalo at the forefront of my ministry and my decisions.”
Grosz said he will not have an active role in Scharfenberger’s administration and he said his role in the diocese will be “primarily sacramental and in assistance to priests.” He added that he plans to retire in February.