Pope Francis on Wednesday accepted the resignation of Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, who was cleared of sexual abuse allegations by the Vatican at the start of this month.
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) reviewed the results of a Church-led investigation into DiMarzio and determined that the allegations lacked “the semblance of truth,” according to a Sept. 1 statement from the New York archdiocese.
DiMarzio, who is 77 years old, is two years past the age at which bishops are required by canon law to submit their request to retire to the pope.
On Sept. 29, Pope Francis appointed Bishop Robert J. Brennan of Columbus, Ohio, to lead the Diocese of Brooklyn after DiMarzio. With 1.5 million Catholics, Brooklyn, which includes the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens, is the fifth-largest U.S. diocese.
Brennan, 59, grew up in the Bronx and was a lifelong New Yorker before he was appointed bishop of Columbus in 2019.
In a brief video message to the diocese on Sept. 29, Brennan said: “If you will be patient with me, I promise to give you my all.”
“I have a lot to learn from you, the priests of the Diocese of Brooklyn -- from your wisdom, your experience. I need your help,” he added.
He said that his collaboration with the priests of the Columbus diocese was “one of the greatest sources of strength and joy for me” and he “loved them as my brothers.”
The bishop asked for forbearance with his sadness at leaving his diocese, and to “see in it a sign of my great confidence in my eagerness to know and love you, to stand shoulder to shoulder with you in the work of the Gospel.”
“For now, let’s be united in our fraternal prayers for one another,” he said.
Brennan is the oldest of five children and was raised in Lindenhurst, in Suffolk County, New York. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and computer science from St. John’s University in Queens.
After his priestly ordination in 1989 in Huntington, New York, Brennan served as a parish priest, bishop’s secretary, and vicar general for the Diocese of Rockville Centre before being made an auxiliary bishop for the diocese in 2012. He is bilingual, frequently celebrating Mass in Spanish, including in the Nassau County Correctional Facility.
DiMarzio was consecrated as an auxiliary bishop of Newark in 1996. He served as bishop of Camden from 1999 until 2003, when he was installed as the bishop of Brooklyn. In his time in Newark, he overlapped with Theodore McCarrick, who served as archbishop of Newark from 1986 to 2000.
Today, I welcome Bishop-designate Robert Brennan, as the eighth Bishop of Brooklyn. I have known Bishop Brennan for many years, and have great confidence in his ability to lead the @BrooklynDiocese, and build upon the pastoral achievements we have made. pic.twitter.com/0BLAXVNENw
— Bishop DiMarzio (@BpDiMarzio) September 29, 2021
The allegations against DiMarzio were made in civil lawsuits, and related to the bishop’s time as a priest in the Newark archdiocese in the 1970s. In 2019, New Jersey suspended the statute of limitations for civil sex abuse lawsuits, allowing for a two-year window for lawsuits concerning older allegations.
Under rules implemented by Pope Francis in the May 2019 document Vos estis lux mundi, the metropolitan archbishop investigates allegations of abuse against other bishops in his region. The Holy See authorized Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York to conduct the investigation, which he did through hiring an outside law firm.
The CDF reviewed the investigation results, concluding that the claims did not “have the semblance of truth.”
Bishop DiMarzio said on Sept. 1 that he had “fully cooperated with this inquiry, because I know I did nothing wrong.”
“I have prayed for a conclusion to this investigation, and these final results further verify, as I have consistently said, that these allegations have absolutely no merit,” he said.