Buffalo bishop, lay reform group agree on proposals to address abuse

National Catholic Reporter

April 25, 2019

By Peter Feuerherd

The Movement to Restore Trust, a church reform group with its roots at Canisius College, a Jesuit institution, has come to an agreement with Bishop Richard Malone of Buffalo, New York, on recommendations to address the ongoing sex abuse crisis.

It is the latest development in a series of jarring events that has enveloped the diocese, including calls for Malone to resign, as it attempts to recover from disclosures over the past year.

As the result of a meeting between Malone and the Movement to Restore Trust April 11, the bishop agreed to hold a series of diocesanwide listening sessions to hear directly from sexual abuse victims and others. He promised more meetings with Movement to Restore Trust leaders to discuss how the diocese handles information about abusers, and agreed to expand the diocesan finance council to include more laypeople, particularly women.

Malone also agreed to expand the diocese’s ethics reporting service, until now focused on financial issues, to also include accepting reports of sexual abuse or harassment.

The agreement was a response to a series of events in 2018 when Buffalo Catholics learned about a retired priest who admitted to dozens of cases of abusing children previously unreported and when the diocese released the names of 42 priest abusers, a list that later grew to 176.

Via a report on CBS’ “60 Minutes,” Buffalo Catholics also heard from Malone’s former administrative assistant that the diocese was not forthcoming on all it knew about sex abuse cases.

It was, said John Hurley, Canisius College president, a case of “wave after wave of bad stories,” which “didn’t square with people’s understanding and what we had been told by previous bishops.”

The goal of the April 11 meeting, according to Maureen Hurley, a leader of the Movement to Restore Trust, was to come to an agreement on less-controversial recommendations that emerged from a series of meetings held earlier this year at Canisius soliciting input from Buffalo Catholics about the crisis in the church.

“We called them easy wins,” she said.

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