Letter: Return Father Biernat to his full ministry

Buffalo News [Buffalo NY]

March 22, 2023

It is said that no good deed goes unpunished. We see two clear examples of this in the cases of Father Ryszard Biernat and Siobhan O’Connor, two persons who had the courage to do what was necessary to expose former Buffalo Bishop Malone’s continued shielding of abusive priests. As a consequence of their necessary actions, they were branded as pariahs by leaders of the church they love.

Father Ryszard realized the risk he took in secretly recording Bishop Malone, and it’s no surprise that he was suspended by Malone as a result. I have at times wondered whatever became of Father Ryszard, and learned the answer in the Feb. 27th Buffalo News article, that he remains suspended from active ministry more than three years after Malone first sanctioned him.

I was very perturbed to discover that Father Ryszard is still being treated as an outcast by the Diocese of Buffalo. I have seen his enthusiastic, joyous style of celebrating mass and the way he inspires his congregation. The diocese has a severe shortage of priests, and this problem will only increase in the coming years. Why is this inspirational, deeply spiritual man still being punished for following his conscience and doing what absolutely had to be done, even though he knew he might be stigmatized and cast aside by his superiors?

In a letter to parishioners dated Feb. 28, Bishop Fisher states that “all who minister and work in our diocese are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner and in keeping with the requirements of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” His letter concludes that we must not lose “hope in the One who offers us forgiveness, healing and the possibility to make all things new.” Bishop Fisher, please practice what you preach and reinstate Father Ryszard Biernat to full ministry.

Michael Scully


FILE - Pope Francis arrives for a pilgrimage at the Lac Saint Anne, Canada, on July 26, 2022. The Vatican on Thursday, March 30, 2023, responded to Indigenous demands and formally repudiated the “Doctrine of Discovery,” the theories backed by 15th-century “papal bulls” that legitimized the colonial-era seizure of Native lands and form the basis of some property law today. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia, File)