A statement from Bishop DiMarzio

In an article from Friday, Feb. 15, the Daily News reported that State Senator Frank Padavan believes St. John’s President Rev. Donald Harrington is enacting a plan to get the local senator voted out.

According to the article, Padavan, who has been vocally opposed to the construction of St. John’s new dormitory on Henley Road, believes that Rev. Harrington and St. John’s are urging students to register to vote so that “they can cast ballots for Padavan’s opponent in this year’s election.”

According to the Daily News, Padavan caught wind of this from a senior diocesan official working for Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, head of the Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens.

Padavan asserts that Rev. Harrington had discussed his plan for vengeance with the bishop, according to the article.

St. John’s came out in firm opposition to the claims that Padavan made. According to Head of Media Operations Dominic Scianna, the University almost always participates in a voter registration program and that this year’s candidate forum, which has been done in the past, will “give our students the chance to hear from all local politicians.”

“Father Harrington wants to make it clear,” Scianna said, “that in no way, shape, or form has he ever had, as they say in the Daily News, a ‘vendetta’ against Padavan.”
Bishop DiMarzio issued this statement in response to the accusations:

In response to a New York Daily News article on Feb. 15, 2008, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of the Diocese of Brooklyn has issued the following statement:

On January 31, 2008 I received an honorary doctorate in sacred theology from St. John’s University. Prior to the commencement ceremony, Father Donald Harrington, C.M., president of the university, indicated that Senator Frank Padavan had repeatedly disparaged the student body in an attempt to galvanize opposition to proposed off-campus development. I was told that the student body was so offended that the student groups intended to hold voter registration drives and get out the vote efforts.
I instructed my staff to speak with both Father Harrington and Senator Padavan in order to find an amicable solution to a problem that vexed members of both communities. I am troubled by the resulting confusion. Nevertheless, I want to be clear that Father Harrington at no time in any conversation with me stated that he wanted to “get Padavan because Padavan’s been critical.” Nor did he ever express any similar sentiment.

Senator Padavan has been an outstanding proponent of many ideals the Church values and St. John’s University, under the leadership of Father Harrington, is a vital part of the fabric of our city. It is my hope that the personal attacks and recriminations that advance neither the interest of St. John’s University nor the community of Jamaica Estates be concluded. I am confident that working together with a spirit of humility and mutual cooperation, Senator Padavan and Father Harrington will find a solution that satisfies all parties.