Decision Made Amid Ongoing Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Proceedings
By Matt Surtel
April 29, 2020
BUFFALO — The Diocese of Buffalo is ending its support of priests with substantiated reports of sexual abuse.
The decision was announced Tuesday. It ends all financial support and health benefits for the priests involved.
“In some cases, a few priests were still receiving a monthly salary, based on the last monthly amount they were receiving prior to having their faculties suspended,” said interim Communications Director Greg Tucker, via email. “The other support was in the form of health and dental insurance, and in some cases, car insurance.”
The measure will take effect Friday. It was done as part of the diocese’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy process.
“None of the 23 individuals affected currently has faculties to function as a priest within the diocese,” the diocese said in a statement. “The nature and details of the allegations that resulted in their faculties being suspended relate, in most cases, to allegations raised many years ago. The diocese is directing these individuals to information and available resources elsewhere for their health insurance and other sustenance needs going forward.”
The decision will not affect the priests’ pensions, which are protected by law.
Buffalo’s Roman Catholic diocese filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in February as it struggled under the weight of more than 200 sexual abuse lawsuits. It had sustained a $5 million loss in 2018-19 versus a $1.8 million loss for the prior year.
It joined the Diocese of Rochester among the two statewide to declare bankruptcy so far.
Numerous priests who served in Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties have been listed by the diocese as being the subject of accusations and lawsuits. Priests who served locally since the 1950s were included on the list.
The scandal also led to the resignation of embattled bishop Richard J. Malone in December. Malone had led the diocese since 2012, but had faced increasing criticism over his handling of the scandal and its aftermath.