Author Archives: Office of Communications

Statement on tragic Notre Dame Cathedral fire

Notre Dame Cathedral is a beloved, iconic church that for centuries has been a place and source of inspiration for the faithful. We are deeply saddened by the tragic fire and offer our prayers for the people of Paris, for the safety of firefighters and emergency workers battling the blaze and for all throughout the world who hold this beautiful Cathedral dear. We take heart in the statement today by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston and president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops: “We are a people of hope and of the resurrection, and as devastating as this fire is, I know that the faith and love embodied by this magnificent Cathedral will grow stronger in the hearts of all Christians.” May Our Blessed Mother, Notre Dame, intercede for us in this time of trial as we contemplate her strength at the foot of the cross this Holy Week.

Statement concerning settlement process

With the passage of the Child Victims Act, the Diocese will conclude our settlement process involving Justice Robert J. Lunn, who has been serving as an independent neutral to resolve claims against the Diocese involving allegations of sexual abuse of minors. The Diocese now wants to assess where we are as we prepare to respond to and cooperate with the process set forth in this recent legislation. The program with Justice Lunn will not end immediately. Instead, all claimants who have now completed the investigation phase of the program will have their claims administered by Justice Lunn. When the process concludes, more than 30 claimants will have been heard. The Diocese has a long-established process of working directly with victims and will continue to do so.

HELP FOR VICTIMS
Victims of abuse should always report to the civil authorities. To report a case of possible sexual abuse and to receive help and guidance from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester, victims are encouraged to contact the Victim Assistance Coordinator:
Deborah A. Housel
Phone (585) 328-3228, ext. 1555
Toll-free 1-800-388-7177, ext. 1555
E-mail: victimsassistance@dor.org

Statement regarding Jesuit priest

Statement Regarding Reverend Carsten Martensen

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester has received notice from the USA Northeast Province of the Jesuits that they have received an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor against Reverend Carsten Martensen, S.J. The allegation dates to the 1970s. Father Martensen has been serving in campus ministry at Ithaca College and Cornell University in Ithaca since 2007.

The Province further states that Father Martensen has stepped down from all current assignments and public ministry pending completion of an investigation by the Province and recommendations by its independent Review Board.

The Diocese of Rochester has never received an allegation against Father Martensen during his ministry in the Diocese.

Community letter from USA Northeast Province of the Jesuits

Day of Penance and Mercy March 13

All Catholics in the 12-county Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester are encouraged to participate in a special Lenten Day of Penance and Mercy on Wednesday, March 13, 2019, to experience the healing power of Confession, formally called the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Priests will be available at every parish. Details can be found at http://oec.dor.org/sacraments/penance-and-reconciliation/day-of-penance/

The Catholic Church believes the Sacrament of Reconciliation, is a graced opportunity for us to celebrate God’s forgiveness. The Sacrament calls us to a true sorrow for the sins we have committed, along with an intention to repair our lives and our relationships with God and our community. All Catholics are invited to attend, regardless of how long it has been since their last participation in the Sacrament.

The Diocese of Rochester has created a special website at http://forgiven.dor.org/ to explain the Sacrament and offer “how to’s.”

Statement on Passage of Child Victims Act

NYS Bishops’ Statement on Passage of Child Victims Act Jan. 28, 2019

We pray that passage of the Child Victims Act brings some measure of healing to all survivors by offering them a path of recourse and reconciliation. The legislation now recognizes that child sexual abuse is an evil not just limited to one institution, but a tragic societal ill that must be addressed in every place where it exists.

Sadly, we in the Church know all too well the devastating toll of abuse on survivors, their families, and the extended community. Every Catholic diocese in New York has taken important steps to support survivors of child sexual abuse, including the implementation of reconciliation and compensation programs. We are proud that these pioneering programs have not only helped more than a thousand survivors of clergy abuse in New York, but have also become a model for how to help survivors in other states and in other institutions.

Now, we hope that this same type of survivor-centered approach, that puts the emphasis on healing, is available to all survivors, regardless of when the abuse occurred, or who their abuser was¬ whether it was a priest, a coach, a teacher, a doctor, or, as is all too common, a family member. We have long called for strengthening the Child Victims Act and will continue to advocate for the elimination of the criminal statute of limitations, compensations programs for those who prefer it to litigation, and mandatory safe environment training for anyone who works with children.

We thank the brave survivors who have told their stories of abuse in every sector of society. Their witness has moved us all. We renew our commitment to combatting the monstrous crime of childhood sexual abuse and helping all survivors find recourse and reconciliation as they heal.

Timothy Cardinal Dolan
Archbishop of New York

Most Rev. Salvatore R. Matano
Bishop of Rochester

Most Rev. Terry R. LaValley
Bishop of Ogdensburg

Most Rev. Edward B. Scharfenberger
Bishop of Albany

Most Rev. Nicholas DiMarzio
Bishop of Brooklyn

Most Rev. Richard J.Malone
shop of Buffalo

Most Rev. John O. Barres
Bishop of Rockville Centre

Most Rev. Robert J. Cunningham
Bishop of Syracuse

And the Auxiliary and Retired Bishops of New York State

Statement on removal of two priests from public ministry

Two priests have been removed from public ministry by Bishop Salvatore R. Matano. The actions follow an independent investigation and a subsequent review and recommendation by the diocesan Review Board, which includes lay professionals in law, child protection, law enforcement and psychology who advise the Bishop in his assessment of allegations of sexual abuse of minors and a cleric’s suitability for ministry.

Reverend Thomas J. Valenti, who served as parochial administrator of Blessed Trinity/St. Patrick’s in Tioga County, is restricted from engaging in public ministry or presenting himself publicly as a cleric.

In June 2018, Father Valenti was publicly accused of sexual abuse of a minor dating back to the 1970s. It was determined that a complete review and investigation of the matter should be initiated. After the investigation and review, the Review Board recommended the action based on new information that Father Valenti had engaged in objectionable and inappropriate behaviors with minors in that time period. Father Valenti adamantly denies the substance of the allegations.

Father Valenti was ordained in April 1976. He served as assistant pastor of Holy Apostles Church, Rochester, from 1976-1977; as assistant pastor of Blessed Sacrament Church, Rochester, from 1977-1979; as diocesan vocations director from 1980-1989; as assistant to the Bishop for vocations and director of Becket Hall discernment house from 1989-1993; and as chaplain at Ithaca College from 1993-1997. He served outside the Diocese from 1997 until 2014 when he began his assignment at Blessed Trinity/St. Patrick’s.

Father Valenti has the right to appeal from the Bishop’s decision to the Holy See, and he intends to do so.

Reverend Erick Viloria, who served as parochial vicar at Our Lady of Peace Parish, Geneva, is restricted from engaging in public ministry or presenting himself publicly as a cleric. The Diocese received a claim against Father Viloria in August 2018. After the investigation, the Review Board’s recommendation was based on information that Father Viloria engaged in objectionable and inappropriate use of social media with an adult. This claim is unrelated to his parish ministry.

Father Viloria was ordained a priest in June 2016. He served as parochial vicar at St. Mary’s Parish and Ss. Mary and Martha Parish, Auburn, from June 2016 to June 2018, when he began his assignment as parochial vicar at Our Lady of Peace, Geneva.

Fr. Viloria has the right to appeal from the Bishop’s decision to the Holy See.

“The Diocese of Rochester is committed to creating a safe environment for all, most especially our children, young people and vulnerable adults,” Bishop Matano said. “As Bishop of Rochester, I pledge to continue the many important initiatives we have undertaken to ensure this. I remain committed to the guiding principles established in the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, which the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops adopted in 2002 and which was most recently updated in 2018.”

A detailed list of the initiatives the Diocese has undertaken can be found at https://www.dor.org/wp-content/uploads/Update-on-Safe-Environment-Efforts2018.pdf. Additional information and resources can be found at www.dor.org under the Protecting Our Children tab.

HELP FOR VICTIMS
Victims of abuse should always report to the civil authorities. To report a case of possible sexual abuse and to receive help and guidance from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester, victims are encouraged to contact the Victim Assistance Coordinator, Deborah Housel, at (585) 328-3228, ext. 1555 (toll-free 1-800-388-7177, ext. 1555) or by email to victimsassistance@dor.org.