Abuse survivor Michael Whalen calls on bishop to release names

Says public deserves to know the truth
Posted at 6:53 PM, Mar 04, 2018

“It’s been such a whirlwind that this has broken as big as it has.”

Michael Whalen is talking about the sexual abuse he first revealed last week in the Catholic Church -- and what he calls the “tsunami” of victims who say they have also been abused by Catholic priests through the years in the Diocese of Buffalo.

“It’s been unbelievable the victims who have contacted me,” Whalen said in front of the diocesan headquarters Sunday morning. “I am proud of all of you.”

Two more of those victims came forward Sunday in a front-page story in The Buffalo News that detailed abuse at St. John’s church in Alden. James McCarthy told the newspaper he was sodomized as a boy in the 1960s by Father Norbert Orsolits  -- the same priest who Whalen says abused him.

"I was a victim and they wouldn't tell me anything about what's being done," McCarthy said in The News about reporting the abuse to the diocese eight years ago. "The church, in every situation it could, there was always an intention to cover it up as much as possible."

Whalen said now is the time for the diocese to finally come clean -- and to release the names of any priests who have been credibly accused of abuse. The names have been locked away in diocesan headquarters on Main Street in downtown Buffalo for decades.

“I think the priests that have been accused should be out in the public eye,” Whalen said. 

After abusing the two boys in Alden -- and allegedly Whalen at St. John Vianney in Orchard Park -- Orsolits was assigned to a parish near Olean, where where parishioners had no idea they were getting an abusive priest.

“I think the parents needed to know that before this happened, you know?” Whalen said. “And that’s why these names need to be released. Just to know who they are [and] where they are.” 

The diocese removed Orsolits from ministry in 2003. He lives outside Springville in the same cabin where Whalen said he was abused.

“Do you think people in Springville knew that Father Norb was a pedophile, and he’s living there out in the woods and nobody knows, nobody knew about it?” Whalen said. 

Motioning across the street to the Catholic Center, he said, “They knew about it.” 

Bishop Richard Malone said last week he is considering releasing the names of the priests.

“So we are, right now, engaged in a reconsideration of a policy that I have inherited, it was in place when I came,” he said at a news conference announcing a news settlement program for some victims. “But I am looking at it anew.”

Former priest Robert Hoatson -- now a victim’s advocate for Road to Recovery, Inc. -- remains skeptical. 

“Why can’t we get this right yet, the church?” he asked. “You know. Just tell the truth, and release everything you have about the truth.”