Two Buffalo-area priests were put on leave this past weekend as the Diocese of Buffalo investigates complaints of childhood sexual abuse. Bishop Richard J. Malone suspended the Rev. Samuel J. Venne and the Rev. Arthur S. Smith from ministry due to allegations that the priests behaved inappropriately with minors.
Venne, who is retired, regularly celebrated Masses at St. Stephen Church on Grand Island. His administrative leave was announced to parishioners at Masses this past weekend.
Smith was working at Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta parish in Depew. Parishioners there also were informed at Masses this past weekend in a letter from the bishop that was read to them.
Diocesan spokesman George Richert confirmed the leaves Monday. Richert did not say when the diocese learned of the allegations. He also wouldn’t specify when the alleged incidents involving the priests happened, other than to say they were not recent. Malone’s letter stated that the priests were put on administrative leave as an investigation continues.
“Please note that this administrative leave is for the purpose of investigation and does not imply any determination as to the truth or falsity of the complaint,” Malone’s letter also stated Venne and Smith are the second and third instances of active or retired priests being put on leave, after Malone for the first time publicly identified 42 priests as having had credible allegations of sexual abuse against them.