With Prayers for Michael R. Unglo and His Family, and a Wake Up Call to the Bishop of Pittsburgh

Gary Kopycinski

Commentary
By Gary Kopycinski
Editor and Publisher

So I go to the Diocese of Pittsburgh’s Web site this evening to see where an old friend, an excellent, excellent priest, is stationed so I can contact him, and this is what I see, front and center, on the diocese’s home page:

The following statement was issued by the Diocese of Pittsburgh in response to a lawsuit filed by the family of Michael R. Unglo:

We were advised by media that a lawsuit has been filed against the Diocese of Pittsburgh. The lawsuit concerns the suicide of Michael R. Unglo on May 4, 2010.

Mr. Unglo alleged that he had been sexually abused by a priest of the Diocese of Pittsburgh as a young boy between 1982 and 1985. When the diocese first became aware of the allegation, the accused, Richard J. Dorsch, had already been removed from ministry after a previous allegation brought by a different individual. He was subsequently convicted and served time in prison as a result of that previous allegation. Since that time, Dorsch cannot function or represent himself as a priest.

Without any legal requirement to do so, the Diocese of Pittsburgh readily provided hundreds of thousands of dollars for counseling and residential treatment for Mr. Unglo in recent years and continued to do so up to the time of his tragic death. The Diocese of Pittsburgh denies any negligence in this matter and cannot accept that any action of the Diocese contributed to or was responsible for his death. The facts of the case will bear this out.

Suicide is a complex tragedy that can deeply affect surviving loved ones. We continue to offer our sympathy, prayers and support to all touched by this tragedy.

How unbelievably sad that Bishop David Zubik, who I knew over 20 years ago to be an exceptional priest, how sad that this statement finds its way to the home page of the diocesan Web site. The purpose here is not to express grief or sorrow at the tragic death of Mr. Michael R. Unglo. The sole purpose of this statement is to deny negligence with respect to Mr. Unglo’s death.

Read again, "The Diocese of Pittsburgh denies any negligence in this matter and cannot accept that any action of the Diocese contributed to or was responsible for his death. The facts of the case will bear this out."

Bishop Zubik, the home page of this Web site is the virtual portal to the Diocese of Pittsburgh, and you have chosen to use this site’s home page to cover your holy, well, derriere.

That’s too bad.

Bishop Zubik, I have no doubt that the Diocese of Pittsburgh did, in fact, reach out to Mr. Unglo and his family. I have no doubt that "hundreds of thousands of dollars" were spent to help him through what must have been an unbelievably difficult time. Frankly, it does not matter that when "the diocese first became aware of the allegation, the accused, Richard J. Dorsch, had already been removed from ministry after a previous allegation brought by a different individual. He was subsequently convicted and served time in prison as a result of that previous allegation. Since that time, Dorsch cannot function or represent himself as a priest."

Good for former Father Dorsch.

Bishop Zubik, did you ever once invite Mr. Unglo to your office and apologize on behalf of the Church? Did you pick up the phone, or have someone pick up the phone for you, and speak with Mr. Unglo? Did you reach out to help him with the profound grief he must have been suffering?

Bishop Zubik, it’s not always about paying someone else to counsel an individual harmed by the Church.

By the Church, Bishop. And you, as Bishop, Episcopus, ἐπίσκοπος, of the local Church — sir, it was up to you to pick up the phone and apologize.

Did you ever do that? If you did, you left that out of your statement, preferring to focus, instead, on liability issues.

Bishop Zubik, this never was about money. It was about what happened to Mr. Unglo.

All we can offer now are prayers for the repose of the soul of Michael R. Unglo, and his family, who work to go on.

So, so very sad.