Catholic Diocese of Buffalo files for bankruptcy

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 February 2020 at 11:10 am

Photo by Tom Rivers: The front door at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Medina is pictured during the Easter season.

The Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, which serves 690,000 Catholics in eight Western New York counties, has filed for bankruptcy protection. The Diocese includes the Catholic parishes in Orleans County.

The Diocese is the second in New York to declare bankruptcy, as the church faces lawsuits for child sexual abuse from years ago. The Diocese in Rochester was the first to seek bankruptcy protection when it filed in September.

The Buffalo Diocese is currently led by Albany Bishop Edward Scharfenberger. He stepped into the role following the Dec. 4 resignation by Bishop Richard Malone, who was criticized by many Catholics in the Diocese for his handling of the child sexual abuse scandal.

Bishop Scharfenberger issued this statement today: “We have no more urgent work than to bring about justice and healing for those harmed by the scourge of sexual abuse. The intense emotional, mental and spiritual pain inflicted on these innocent victim survivors is a heavy burden they are forced to carry throughout their lives.”

“Our decision to pursue Chapter 11 reorganization —arrived at after much prayer, discernment and consultation with the College of Consultors and our Diocesan Finance Council — is based on our belief that this approach will enable the most number of victim-survivors of past sexual abuse in achieving fairness and a sense of restorative justice for the harm they have experienced,” he said. “It will also allow the vital, mission-driven work of faith that is so essential to the residents of Western New York to continue uninterrupted.”

The Associated Press is reporting the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo has already paid $18 million to more than 100 victims. It faces more than 240 new lawsuits filed since August, the AP reported.

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