NEW YORK, N.Y. — Cardinal Timothy Dolan is conducting an investigation into Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, following an allegation of sexual abuse.
The investigation is being conducted under the provisions of Vos estis lux mundi, the Church law issued by Pope Francis last year on dealing with accusations against bishops.
In a statement released Jan. 18, Joseph Zwilling, director of communications in the Archdiocese of New York, confirmed the investigation.
“As directed by Vos estis, Cardinal Dolan earlier notified the Holy See of the allegation that was raised concerning Bishop DiMarzio from his time as a priest in the Archdiocese of Newark. On January 7, 2020, the Cardinal received instruction from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that he is to begin an investigation.”
On Nov. 13, 2019, Bishop DiMarzio publicly announced that he was the subject of an allegation of sexually abusing a minor, dating back to his time as a priest in the 1970s in Jersey City.
According to the Associated Press, 56-year-old Mark Matzek says Bishop DiMarzio and another priest, who is now deceased, repeatedly abused him when he was an altar server at St. Nicholas Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of Newark. Bishop DiMarzio was a priest there at the time.
Boston attorney Mitchell Garabedian sent a letter to the Archdiocese of Newark in November, notifying them that he was preparing a lawsuit on behalf of Matzek. The suit is reportedly seeking $20 million.
Bishop DiMarzio has strongly denied the allegations, calling sexual abuse a “despicable crime” and highlighting his own work to eradicate it from his own Diocese of Brooklyn. In November, the bishop said that he would vigorously defend himself.
“In my nearly 50-year ministry as a priest, I have never engaged in unlawful or inappropriate behavior and I categorically deny this allegation,” Bishop DiMarzio said.
The allegation was made shortly after Bishop DiMarzio himself concluded his own investigation into another bishop on behalf of the Vatican.
On instructions of the Congregation for Bishops, in October and November last year, Bishop DiMarzio conducted an apostolic visitation of the Diocese of Buffalo, which faced months of scandal surrounding Bishop Richard Malone, who was accused of mishandling sex abuse claims against a priest in his diocese.
Although that visitation was not conducted under the rules of Vos estis, Bishop Malone’s resignation was accepted by Pope Francis in December last year.
Bishop DiMarzio is the second U.S. bishop to be investigated under the norms of Vos estis since its promulgation by Pope Francis in May 2019.
In September 2019, the Vatican ordered St. Paul-Minneapolis Archbishop Bernard Hebda to conduct an investigation using the new laws into Crookston Bishop Michael Hoeppner, who is alleged to have knowingly kept an abusive priest in ministry, and pressured an alleged abuse victim to withdraw an allegation against a priest. Archbishop Hebda sent his report to Rome in early November.
A spokesman for Cardinal Dolan said that the cardinal will be using experts to assist him in his task, but did not give a timeline for the enquiry into Bishop DiMarzio.
“As is our practice, the cardinal will rely on outside professional forensic investigators to assist him in this matter,” he said.
“The archdiocese will have no further comment on the matter while the investigation is undertaken.”