Diocese Confirms Beginning of Apostolic Visitation

Bishop DiMarzio expected to return later this month

Brendan Keany
October 10, 2019 - 4:12 pm

Diocese of Buffalo with two dozen protesters calling for Bishop Malone's resignation. September 10, 2018 (WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman)

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BUFFALO (WBEN) - Last week, the Holy See authorized an apostolic visitation for Buffalo's Catholic Diocese, and while the timeline for the investigation was rather vague, it was expected that Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio would begin his duty "in the near future."

As it turns out, the near future was this week.

The Buffalo Diocese released a statement regarding DiMarzio's visit:

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn visited Buffalo earlier this week as part of the Apostolic Visitation announced recently. He met with and interviewed more than 30 individuals and has plans to return for additional meetings later this month.

The Bishop takes his role as Visitator seriously and is determined to continue the fact-finding mission he has been directed to carry out by the Holy See. Both lay faithful and clergy, members of the Diocesan staff, and others have been invited to be a part of this process so that Bishop DiMarzio can gather information from several perspectives as part of this fact-finding mission of the Buffalo Diocese.

Bishop DiMarzio has pledged to do his best to learn the facts and gain a thorough understanding of the situation in Buffalo. Upon completion of the visitation, Bishop DiMarzio will submit a report to the Congregation for Bishops at the Vatican.

Whistleblower Siobhan O'Connor says her feelings toward this announcement were much like most people's - cynical with shreds of hope.

"Initially, I was chagrined that the process was going to be an apostolic visitation and not the invoking of Vos Estis, which is the (protocol) that Pope Francis (enacted) at the beginning of June this year, which is more specific to the abuse scandal in our diocese, and I thought that would be the more appropriate type of investigation," said O'Connor. "Now, I'm just trying to be hopeful that at least it's something. At least Rome and the Nuncio have taken some steps here in Buffalo. For a while, I was beginning to think that they were just going to ignore us indefinitely."

Prominent victims advocate James Faluszczak has long called for Malone's resignation, and he has always been critical of the Catholic Church investigating itself when it comes to these types of matters. Last week, he spoke rather highly of the announcement.

"This could be more serious; I'm not going to say this is the status quo because I do think this is going to result in his removal - I'd be surprised if it didn't," said Faluszczak. "The criticism that I have is that they're saying right out of the gate that this is a confidential investigation. We may never know the result of it; they may oust him and never tell us the reason for that matter."

With the diocese confirming that the first part of the visitation has taken place, O'Connor says that appears to be a good sign.

"The fact that Bishop DiMarzio acted on it so quickly, I took that as a positive," she said. "Apparently, he was here as of Tuesday conducting interviews, so that's pretty quick, as this was announced last Thursday and he's here Tuesday, so at least he seems like he wants to get right down to business."

While the statement says that DiMarzio has designs on coming back to Buffalo "later this month," O'Connor noted that she and fellow-whistleblower Fr. Ryszard Biernat have not been contacted by the investigation.

"For the most part, people seem to be either cynical or skeptical, or some combination of both, and I think a lot of people are waiting to find out if Fr. Ryszard and I will be contacted by Bishop DiMarzio, and so far that hasn't happened - I'm still holding out hope that we will be," said O'Connor. "I really hope that Bishop DiMarzio will speak to a wide (array) of people; survivors should be speaking with him, parishioners, certainly whistleblowers, and right now we just have to wait and see, but people seem to be kind of willing to wait because...what else can we do?"

Listen to O'Connor's full comments below:

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