Movement to Restore Trust Leader Trying to Limit Expectations of Vatican Summit

Summit addressing sexual abuse among Catholic clergy

Tom Puckett
February 22, 2019 - 4:00 am

Buffalo, NY (WBEN) This weekend's summit at the Vatican is aimed at addressing the sex abuse scandal in the church. The leader of a local group seeking to restore trust in the Buffalo diocese says he's trying to dial back expectations. 

John Hurley, Canisius College President and member of the Movement to Restore Trust in the Buffalo Catholic Diocese says his hope is a point can be reached where there's a widespread consensus that sex abuse against minors and vulnerable abuse is evil. "From what I'm reading, I'm not sure we're there yet. For that reason, I'm trying to keep my expectations in check about this meeting," says Hurley. 

Hurley believes there's an assumption Pope Francis can easily "wave a wand" and make something happen that will satisfy media or survivors groups, but that's not possible. "It's for that reason I think we need to take this as another step in the process and ,maybe return to what will we do in the United States to address this and get this under control collectively, and assure the faithful of the church the Catholic Church means business on this," says Hurley.

Hurley says there are things that can be done that don't require endorsements by the Vatican or the US Catholic Conference of Bishops, and he says they're moving in that direction. "We need to be working collectively to make those things happen. Hurley hopes all involved can get to the right place. "The right place is we come to a deeper understanding of the individual harm created in the lives of survivors of sex abuse and what that meant, and finding some way of recognizing that," says Hurley. He says organizational changes must take place to prevent it from happening again.

Cardinals attending Pope Francis' summit on preventing clergy sex abuse have called for a new culture of accountability in the Catholic Church to punish bishops and religious superiors who fail to protect their flocks from predator priests.

Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich said Friday that new legal procedures were needed, and that lay experts must be involved at every step of the process to investigate and punish Catholic superiors when they cover up abuse.

Mumbai Cardinal Oswald Gracias said bishops must hold themselves accountable and work together because the problem is not confined to one part of the world.

Francis summoned 190 bishops and religious superiors for the four-day tutorial on preventing abuse and protecting children after the scandal erupted last year in Chile and again in the U.S.

Buffalo Catholic Diocese Bishop Richard Malone issued a statement:

Today at the Vatican, Pope Francis and the presidents of every Episcopal Conference from around the world are gathering to begin an unprecedented summit meeting to discuss the sexual abuse crisis within the Church.  I, along with my brother bishops in New York State and across the United States, pray this gathering will result in greater steps to assist victims on the journey of healing and for the people of the Church throughout the world - to restore and rebuild faith, hope and trust.

The summit at the Vatican has three important overarching themes:  responsibility, accountability, and transparency.  I commit myself, the priests, deacons, religious, and laity of our diocese to continue to ensure that responsibility, accountability and transparency are primary and in the forefront of all we do in our ministry.  I also look forward to the results and directions given by the summit and am grateful that Pope Francis is leading this effort to address the global crisis.  I invite all to pray for him and all those gathered at the Vatican - for Jesus, the Divine Healer and the Holy Spirit, the Comforter to guide and inspire them.

As previously announced in the WNY Catholic, March 2019 will begin a Year of Healing and Prayer across our diocese.  Throughout this year, I encourage all to join me in prayer and action to bring true healing to victims and for the forgiveness necessary for us all to move into a new day of hope and renewal.

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