Civil lawsuits and a decline in attendance are to blame according to church officials in Buffalo
(For Immediate Release May 12, 2022)
The Catholic Diocese of Buffalo is making drastic cuts to its stable of priests following its clergy abuse scandal and ensuing bankruptcy. According to a report from Spectrum News in Syracuse, the diocese confirmed Wednesday it invited 132 active priests to apply for just 36 open positions — that’s one priest for each “parish family” as outlined in the diocese’s “Road to Renewal” initiative.
We are not surprised that church officials are quick to blame financial issues on the civil cases brought against them under New York’s Child Victims Act. The diocese quickly filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2020. Additionally, the church claims a decline in attendance. To us, this is a message that is clearly not being heard by the church officials and one in which they fail to admit their egregious failures.
We will never know the true extent of the secrecy that was kept. Whether it is Bishop Donald Trautman's fast-tracking of an annulment, or Bishop Richard Malone's obvious, egregious flaunting of his moral duty to report abusers and remove them from ministry, there are countless examples of secrecy that are being identified and alleged in legal filings under New York’s Child Victim's Act. Those secrets should come out and the men who allowed the abuse to continue should be held responsible. Without full knowledge of what went wrong in these cases, we cannot hope to prevent them again in the future. Unfortunately, this move by church officials to blame lawsuits and a decline in attendance robs Buffalo-area parishioners and the public from getting true answers.
The sheer number of claims reported is mind-boggling. However, we believe this will become a common theme across the country as ‘windows to justice’ continue to be passed by state legislatures. Sadly, given what we have seen over the course of our history, we are not surprised at the numbers, nor are we surprised at the content and description of these claims.
Based on the number of claims, and including the cases previously settled by the Diocese through a voluntary compensation program, there are at least 1030 victims in this one single diocese alone. Given that these cases span the past 75 years, that means that roughly 14 children were abused every single year in Buffalo. In other words, for nearly a century. more than one child per month was victimized by someone who was supposed to care for them. In the Buffalo Diocese, no boy or girl was safe. This is what the diocese should be explaining to their congregation and public, these are the answers.
We call on Bishop Michael Fisher to take the initiative to explain the truth about the “Road to Renewal” initiative and update the list of credibly accused diocesan priests, establish a list of order priests, nuns, and Catholic laity. We the rhetoric from church officials about transparency and accountability, we urge advocates and parishioners alike to demand that today.
CONTACT: Judith Burns-Quinn([email protected], 716-826-4554), Janet Klinger, SNAP Plainview ([email protected], 516-749-3798), Mary McKenna, SNAP Bellmore ([email protected], 516-781-2192), Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager (267-261-0578, [email protected]) Zach Hiner, Executive Director (517-974-9009, [email protected])
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)