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Bishop threatens LifeSite over report of his alleged cover-up of priest’s gay sex abuse

'Based on the evidence we have seen, which includes almost a dozen documents and various testimonies from those close to the matter, we stand by our report.'
Fri Jul 26, 2019 - 5:06 pm EST
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Bishop Arthur Serratelli

PATERSON, New Jersey, July 26, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Lawyers representing New Jersey bishop Arthur Serratelli have threatened LifeSiteNews over our July 24 report that highlighted the bishop’s alleged refusal to discipline an active priest in the diocese despite multiple accusations of sexual misconduct against him. 

Based on the evidence we have seen, which includes almost a dozen documents and various testimonies from those close to the matter, we stand by our report. 

Serratelli’s lawyer insists that the bishop “does not engage in, promote, condone or support homosexual activity within the Diocese of Paterson.” 

The Bishop, however, has refused to comment on or do anything about two priests who last year posted photos of themselves on social media that showed the pair cuddling and kissing, suggesting a homosexual relationship. Both priests, Fr. Dulibber G. Gonzalez and Fr. Marcin Bradtke remain active in the Diocese of Paterson. 

The Bishop also allows a homosexual affirming parish to operate openly and seemingly unchecked in his diocese. Saint Mary’s Catholic Church in Pompton Lakes, NJ, states on the homepage of its website that “all are welcome here” and that the parish extends a “special welcome” to those who are “gay, lesbian, transgender.” 

Saint Mary’s, which earned pro-homosexual New Ways Ministry’s stamp of approval as an “LGBT-friendly” parish, also hosts an “LGBT Ministry” for “fostering an inclusive environment” where “LGBT people of faith” can “explore their spirituality and share their experience, strength and hope with one another.”

LifeSiteNews’ July 24 report, titled New Jersey bishop accused of covering-up priest’s gay sex abuse, ran as follows:  

Catholics in Passaic County, New Jersey have been furious with their bishop for over a decade because they believe he has been covering-up for and even promoting a priest who is a serial abuser of young men.   

Church Militant presented a story last week alleging that Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli, the ordinary of the Diocese of Paterson since 2004, has refused to discipline Fr. Hernan Arias, the pastor of St Margaret of Scotland Parish in Morristown, NJ, despite multiple accusations of sexual misconduct against him.

Arias, who remains “a priest in good standing” for the Diocese of Paterson, has been accused of intoxicating and attempting to rape an 18-year-old boy in 1985, of subsequent public drunkenness and an attempt to seduce a seminarian during a trip to Israel, and of having admitted to approaching a male prostitute in Paterson, allegedly while impersonating a police officer.

LifeSiteNews has seen ten documents from the case, redacted to preserve the anonymity of Church Militant’s sources. The material dates from March 2, 2006 to April 24, 2007. It includes letters from the victim of Arias’ alleged sexual assault to Bishop Serratelli, Serratelli’s responses to the victim, and the victim’s subsequent letter to Archbishop Pietro Sambi, then the Papal Nuncio to the United States. 

LifeSiteNews reached out to Bishop Serratelli prior to publication, inviting him to respond to the Church Militant story, but we did not receive a reply despite giving him more than a day to respond. 

“If you would give us a response to the Church Militant story, we would be very grateful. If you wish to share with me information that has not yet been made public that would exonerate you from any or all of these allegations, I will certainly present it to my editors and in my article,” our email to him stated. 

Serratelli, 75, did not respond until last night when his legal representative, Donald T. Okner of Dwyer, Connell and Lisbona LLP, sent our reporter a letter via email saying that assertions made in our article about the bishop are “potentially actionable and constitute cyberbullying and harassment.” 

The letter accused our reporter of wishing to dispute the bishop’s integrity because the latter was ordained a bishop by the now-laicized Theodore McCarrick. 

“It is readily apparent that your agenda is to impugn the integrity of a completely faithful bishop, simply because he was consecrated a bishop by the former Archbishop, Theodore E. McCarrick,” the letter stated.  

“To that end, you incorporate in your article, by reference, the Church Militant ‘story’ that was published on July 15, 2019.” 

LifeSiteNews reported this news because of our commitment to holding Catholic bishops to account when there is well-founded evidence that they may be involved in covering-up sexual abuse by priests. 

Serratelli’s lawyer also asserted that it was “obvious” that much of LifeSiteNews’ information was obtained from a “disgruntled” priest with a grudge against the bishop. 

“It is also obvious that much of the so-called information that you have referenced in your article was obtained from a disgruntled, retired priest unfamiliar with and simply wrong about the protocols of the Diocese of Paterson, who seems to be waging a personal campaign against Bishop Serratelli,” the letter stated. 

Our report, however, concentrated on the testimony of all the whistleblowers in the case, particularly on that of the man who alleged that Fr. Hernan Arias, the priest at the center of our report, attempted to rape him in 1985. 

Serratelli’s lawyer then offered the following comments on our report. 

  • The statement that “Catholics in Passaic County, New Jersey have been furious with their bishop for over a decade...” is false and intended to mislead your readers.
  • Bishop Serratelli does not engage in, promote, condone or support homosexual activity within the Diocese of Paterson.
  • Bishop Serratelli does not recruit men because they are homosexual as candidates for the priesthood within the Diocese of Paterson.
  • Any insinuation that Bishop Serratelli has behaved inappropriately with or condoned inappropriate conduct among priests or seminarians now, or at any time in the past, is an absolute fabrication and untrue.
  • All allegations of improper conduct on the part of Rev. Hernan Arias were reported to the appropriate law enforcement authorities in a timely manner and were fully investigated. There were no findings of criminality.
  • The refusals, by law enforcement authorities, to pursue matters involving Rev. Hernan Arias were based on the results of their investigations and findings of no criminality, not simply based on the statute of limitations.

Church Militant has also received a warning from Serratelli’s legal representatives. 

“We have previously advised Church Militant/St. Michael’s Media, and now advise you that the scurrilous assertions that you make concerning Bishop Serratelli are potentially actionable and constitute cyberbullying and harassment,” the letter stated. 

LifeSiteNews will continue to investigate this case. 


  arthur serratelli, catholic, clergy sex abuse cover up, clergy sexual abuse, diocese of paterson, hernan arias, homosexuality, sex abuse crisis in catholic church

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