Cost to settle sex abuse claims will be ‘painful’ for Diocesan community

WIVB [Buffalo NY]

November 27, 2023

By Daniel Telvock and Luke Moretti

[Video report]

The first in a three-part series looking into the Diocese of Buffalo’s recent offer to settle hundreds of childhood sexual abuse cases. Some devout Catholics are concerned about a lack of transparency with the Diocese’s bankruptcy process, where the offer first appeared.

This is the first installment of a three-part series looking into the Diocese of Buffalo’s recent offer to settle hundreds of childhood sexual abuse cases, how some devout Catholics responded to the news, and what the future might look like once the bankruptcy case in completed.

The Diocese of Buffalo sent shock waves through the Catholic community last month, when it offered $100 million to settle hundreds of childhood sexual abuse cases.

The offer, which is exclusive of any insurance proceeds, would “need to be funded by monetary contributions sourced from across our Catholic community, including from the Diocese, parishes, and other affiliated Catholic entities,” the Diocese said in a brief announcement posted on its website.

“At the end of the day, what it will cost will be painful,” said Richard Suchan, chief operating officer for the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, in an exclusive interview with News 4 Investigates. “It’s not going to be a number that leaves the diocese or any of our parishes in a good financial situation.”

In this first installment, News 4 Investigates interviewed five devout Catholics who support financial settlements for survivors, but have concerns about how the Diocese has managed the bankruptcy court process.

“I think the Western New York Catholics are feeling very, very alienated right now, and they’re alienated because of what’s going on within the Buffalo Catholic Diocese,” said Mike Liwicki, a parishioner of St. Bernadette-Southtowns.

In a rare interview, Suchan addresses their concerns, and discusses the other challenges facing the Diocese, as it begins to reimagine itself past this dark chapter.

The second installment, which airs 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, looks at the Diocese’s plans to fund the settlement, and how the sexual abuse scandal has changed the donating habits of some skeptical parishioners.

The third installment, which airs 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, looks at the future of the Diocese as it tries to move past the sexual abuse scandals and reimagine a new path forward.

A complete web story, with all television reports, will be posted together following Wednesday’s final installment.