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Pope Francis accepts resignation of Buffalo’s Bishop Edward Grosz

March 2, 2020 CNA Daily News 1

Vatican City, Mar 2, 2020 / 06:15 am (CNA).- Pope Francis Monday accepted the resignation of Bishop Edward Grosz, the auxiliary bishop of Buffalo, who has been accused of mishandling a sex abuse allegation.

Grosz, who turned 75 on February 16, offered his resignation at the age required by canon law. The Vatican’s March 2 announcement accepting Grosz’s resignation did not indicate whether it will conduct any investigation into the allegation against the bishop.

His retirement comes following a year of allegations of a cover-up of clergy sex abuse made against the leadership of the Diocese of Buffalo, including an allegation of negligence on the part of Grosz himself.

In September, a priest who was sexually abused as a seminarian alleged that Grosz responded to his 2003 report of the abuse by threatening his vocation. Fr. Ryszard Biernat, who was abused as a seminarian in Buffalo by a priest who was later removed from ministry for other credible accusations of abuse, told Buffalo-area news station WKBW of the auxiliary bishop’s response:

“He said [it] was my fault because I [didn’t] lock the door,” Biernat quoted Bishop Grosz, as report in ed by WKBW. “And then he said, ‘and Ryszard, if you don’t stop talking about this, you will not become a priest. You understand me? You understand me?’” Biernat said.

Bishop Joseph Malone, who led the diocese from 2012 until last year, resigned in December, following a Vatican-ordered investigation of the diocese.

That investigation was conducted in October by Brooklyn’s Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio. The details of DiMarzio’s apostolic visitation have not been released, but, according to statements by the apostolic nuncio, the visitation was not conducted under Vos estis lux mindi, Pope Francis’ recently promulgated norms for treating accusations of  of negligence in sexual abuse cases by bishops. Although Malone’s resignation was accepted, the Vatican has not suggested that Malone was found guilty of any particular canonical crime.

Following Malone’s resignation, Bishop Edward Scharfenberger of Albany was appointed by Pope Francis to oversee the diocese until a replacement was named.

Grosz told local media in December that his role under Scharfenberger’s administration of the diocese would be “primarily sacramental and in assistance to priests,” and said that he planned to submit his resignation in February after his 75th birthday.

As auxiliary bishop, Grosz and Malone met with Pope Francis on November 15 during the ad limina visit of bishops from New York.

Grosz had been an auxiliary bishop of Buffalo since 1989. A native of Buffalo, he studied at St. John Vianney Seminary in New York, and was ordained a priest in 1971.

The Diocese of Buffalo announced on Feb. 28 that it is declaring bankruptcy as hundreds of abuse lawsuits have been filed against it in the last several months. Following the opening of a window in the state statute of limitation last summer, hundreds of abuse lawsuits filed against the diocese in New York courts.

Earlier in February, Scharfenberger announced the decision to close Buffalo’s Christ the King Seminary. The seminary was reportedly facing an annual $500,000 average deficit over a period of a decade.

The diocese said it was formally filing for Chapter 11 reorganization under the U.S. bankruptcy code to provide the most compensation for victims of clergy sex abuse while continuing the day-to-day work of its Catholic mission.


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US Catholic colleges suspend Italy programs over coronavirus

March 1, 2020 CNA Daily News 1

Rome, Italy, Mar 1, 2020 / 07:03 pm (CNA).- Several Catholic colleges and universities with study abroad programs in Italy have ended the semester early and are sending students back to the United States amid the coronavirus outbreak.

One of these schools is The University of Notre Dame, which announced Friday it had canceled the remainder of its Rome Global Gateway program and was flying the 106 students back to the U.S. as soon as possible.

The university also asked students to self-quarantine at home for 14 days, and to receive a doctor’s clearance, following their re-entry to the U.S.

Christendom College, based in Front Royal, Va., decided Feb. 29 to suspend its Rome-based study abroad program beginning March 6.

Amanda Graf, director of the school’s program in Rome, wrote that the “decision was not made lightly, and it breaks our hearts that the students will not be able to experience the entire Rome semester.”

“Ultimately it is our care and concern for the students that motivates us to make this decision.”

She said while the students were likely not at a high risk for infection or physical harm, “the safety and quality of life concerns are too great to risk the variables that would come should the city in fact experience a viral outbreak.”

Indiana-based St. Mary’s College has also suspended its Rome program.

Benedictine College, which has a study abroad program in Florence, last week gave students the choice between staying or returning to the U.S. early. Reportedly 14 of the 52 students decided to leave Italy and continue their courses online, according to

The University of Dallas, whose Italy campus is about 13 miles southeast of Rome, has not yet made the decision to cancel the semester.

The school has around eight students taking extra precautionary measures after they traveled to Milan, one of the cities in the area most affected by the virus.

According to the university’s news website, the students are required to wear masks on campus, eat meals separately, and to sleep in an area apart from the other students.

The university’s president, Thomas S. Hibbs, said the university is monitoring the coronavirus situation.

Late last week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention raised the travel warning for Italy to a level three, advising people to avoid non-essential travel to the country due to the spread of Covid-19.

According to Italian health authorities Italy had counted 1,577 cases of the novel coronavirus, mostly in the northern regions of Veneto and Liguria. There have been 13 cases registered in Tuscany, where Florence is located, and six in Rome’s region of Lazio.

Nearly 800 of the people with novel coronavirus are being treated at home, while 140 are in intensive care. Thirty-four people have died from the virus in Italy.

Covid-19 is a new strain of coronavirus, which can cause fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. In some cases, it can lead to pneumonia, kidney failure, and severe acute respiratory syndrome.

Novel coronavirus, or Covid-19, originated in the Hubei province of China.


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Pope Francis to miss Lent retreat due to cold

March 1, 2020 CNA Daily News 0

Vatican City, Mar 1, 2020 / 04:59 am (CNA).- Pope Francis said Sunday he will not take part in his annual Lenten retreat with the Roman Curia in Ariccia this week due to a cold he has had for several days.

“I also ask you to remember in prayer t… […]