The process of restoring trust in the Diocese of Buffalo

Bishop Scharfenberger: "People did unholy bad things, evil things"

Tim Wenger
December 07, 2019 - 10:04 am
Bishop Edward Scharfenberger and John Hurley

Bishop Edward Scharfenberger and John Hurley/WBEN Photo


Buffalo, N.Y. (WBEN) - On a cold and crisp Saturday during the Advent season, hundreds quietly filed into the doors of the ornate Montante Cultural Center on the campus of Canisius College in Buffalo.  They came to hear words of hope and to hear how trust may be restored to the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo.

Only days after Bishop Edward Scharfenberger was introduced to the diocese as the apostolic administrator, he opened the session with brief remarks and said, "I'm here mainly to listen".

Michael Whalen

Following the exit of Bishop Richard Malone earlier this week and Scharfenberger's appointment by the Vatican, the diocese is now working to navigate out of a crisis that has them facing scores of lawsuits alleging abuse by priests and likely bankruptcy.

Bishop Scharfenberger, in a welcome news conference Wednesday, said he wanted to hear from abuse survivors. And now he has, as the Movement to Restore Trust juggled the agenda of the previously scheduled Saturday session to include abuse survivor Michael Whalen, who drew a standing ovation leaving the stage and saying, "I forgive you Norbert Orsolits", referencing the priest who has admitted abuse following multiple allegations.

During his remarks before the gathering, Whalen told the crowd more change within the diocese is needed and he reiterated his calls for the resignations of Auxiliary Bishop Michael Grosz and counsel Terrence Connors.  "Release the secret files", stated Whalen in referencing documents that may lead to further clarity and evidence of the priest abuse scandal.

The lengthy list of lawsuits already filed against the diocese following the enactment of the Child Victims Act will likely lead to a bankruptcy declaration by the diocese.  Bishop Scharfenberger has already acknowledged the likelihood of a declaration and University of Buffalo Law School Vice Dean Todd Brown addressed the ramifications of such a filing in a lengthy nterview during the assembly. 

Following the session, Bishop Scharfenberger told WBEN he was hopeful and though it went well.  Scharfenberger promises to make some very difficult and tough decisions moving forward but will only do so under advisement and on no timeline in particular.  "People did unholy bad things, evil things", said Scharfenberger.

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