Church on Fire: What Must Be Done?

Buffalo Rising

March 4, 2020

The “Church on Fire” lecture series on church reform kicks off Thursday evening at Blessed Sacrament Church as scandal continues to dog the Buffalo diocese. After enduring months of bombshell after bombshell shaking the foundations of Catholic western New York to its foundations, the resignation of Bishop Richard Malone and the appointment of his temperamental opposite, Bishop Edward Scharfenberger of Albany as apostolic administrator seemed to signal a better day.

Yet recent developments have proven worrisome. Last week the Diocese of Buffalo declared bankruptcy, something unimaginable just a year ago, and a private Mass last week with Bishop Scharfenberger that included priests tainted by the clergy abuse scandal has left reform-minded Catholics stunned. And this week, according to a new story by investigative reporter Charlie Specht, we learned that the priest who hosted that controversial Mass at his church may have been involved in covering up a credible accusation of clerical abuse when he was vice-chancellor of the diocese.

The seemingly endless drumbeat of scandal has had many Catholics asking, “should I stay with the church?” and others, “what must be done?” The lecture series ambitiously attempts to answer both questions, with the answer to the first question inherent in its title, Church on Fire: Stay With Us! The later question, “what must be done?” just happens to be known as “The Vincentian Question,” closely associated with St. Vincent de Paul and the Vincentian religious order he founded (see the brief video below). Appropriately then, kicking off the series will be Rev. Aidan Rooney, a Vincentian priest, who will speak about ecclesiastical reform from the perspective of his order and its founder.

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