By SHARON OTTERMAN-NY Times
Published: September 30, 2012
New York’s most powerful politicians have lined up to call for the resignation of Assemblyman Vito J. Lopez, the onetime Brooklyn Democratic kingmaker, since news broke in August that an ethics panelcensured him for what it said was the sexual harassment of two female employees earlier in the summer.
But there has been a conspicuous silence from religious leaders who have regularly cooperated with him politically in Brooklyn, notably Bishop Nicholas A. DiMarzio, head of theRoman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn. The bishop went as far as recording a robocall in 2009 in support of a City Council candidate Mr. Lopez was backing, and when he was recently asked, through a spokesman, what he thought about the allegations, he responded with a carefully worded statement.
“There is no place in our society for sexual harassment,” said Bishop DiMarzio, who has led the diocese, which also includes Queens, since 2003.
“In our nation, the courts determine whether someone is guilty of a crime,” he added. “Voters are charged with determining the suitability of individuals for elected office. As a priest and bishop, my primary concern is for the salvation of those souls in my care. My responsibility is to remind us all that we are called to seek repentance and forgiveness.”
Bishop DiMarzio is not the only local religious leader with ties to Mr. Lopez, who is Catholic. Mr. Lopez has also forged close ties to Rabbi David Niederman, the executive director of the United Jewish Organizations in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, over subsidized housing for Orthodox Jews. Rabbi Niederman said he did not want to comment on the scandal.
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