ROCHESTER, NY (WXXI) – The Rochester Catholic Diocese says that two priests have been removed from public ministry by Bishop Salvatore Matano after allegations of misconduct.
According to a statement posted on the diocese’s website, the actions follow an independent investigation and a recommendation from a review board which includes lay professionals in law, child protection, law enforcement and psychology.
The Diocese has taken action against:
Reverend Thomas J. Valenti, who served as parochial administrator of Blessed Trinity/St. Patrick’s in Tioga County. The diocese says that in June 2018, Valenti was publicly accused of sexual abuse of a minor dating back to the 1970s. The Diocese’s review board recommended action be taken based on new information that Father Valenti had engaged in objectionable and inappropriate behaviors with minors. According to the diocese, 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.
The diocese says that Valenti is now restricted from engaging in public ministry or presenting himself publicly as a cleric.
The Rochester Catholic Diocese also took action against Reverend Erick Viloria, who served as parochial vicar at Our Lady of Peace Parish in Geneva. The diocese says it received a claim against Viloria last August. He is now also restricted from engaging in public ministry or presenting himself publicly as a cleric. The diocese says its review board based its recommendation on information that Father Viloria engaged in objectionable and inappropriate use of social media with an adult. That 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.
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.
The statement from the Rochester Diocese says that 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 email@example.com.