Bishop visits Swormville church to reassure pastor, parishioners

Buffalo News

February 23, 2020

By Jonathan D. Epstein

Hoping to smooth tensions, Buffalo’s interim bishop paid a visit Sunday afternoon to a church whose pastor has been outspoken in his criticism of the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo and even withheld payment of the church’s annual assessment.

Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger, apostolic administrator for Buffalo, spoke to 150 to 200 parishioners and answered questions at St. Mary’s Church on Transit Road in Swormville for nearly an hour, before presiding over 6 p.m. Mass.

He sought to reassure those in attendance that he took their complaints and pain seriously, and would work to respond to their concerns. And he cited the need to heal and reunite as a community.

“Each and every one of us has the right to feel they are part of who we are. We’re a family,” he said.

Paul Snyder, a prominent deacon in the church who was among the first to openly criticize former Bishop Edward Malone and call for his ouster, said he liked what he heard so far. But he still wants to see that translate into actions, noting that the community is suffering from pain and betrayal.

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