BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) - The Catholic Diocese of Buffalo has released a video address to the Western New York community in response to the recent revelations of priests sexually abusing minors.
Bishop Richard Malone issued a video message Friday morning offering his personal apology to victims, and asking any victims who haven't sought help to contact law enforcement and the Victim Assistance Coordinator at the diocese.
He also took a few minutes to detail the measures the diocese has taken since 2003 to foster a safe environment for children and youth.
He concluded his message by asking the community to support the good priests of the diocese, and asking everyone to pray for victims and the church.
During our holiest week of the church year, I want to address with you the revelation of the sexual abuse scandal within our Diocese of Buffalo.
To any and all of you who are victims of sexual abuse as children or youth by a priest or deacon of the Diocese of Buffalo, I am profoundly sorry for the tremendous pain this has caused you. Nothing I could say to you can heal all of the hurt of this catastrophic breach of trust.
As Bishop of this diocese I apologize to you.
I ask you come forward to law enforcement and to the diocese so we can help you.
Jackie Joy, our Victim Assistance Coordinator is ready to take your call at 716-895-3010.
By now you have seen the list of priests who were removed from ministry, were retired, or left ministry after allegations of sexual abuse of a minor. This list has likely triggered feelings of great distress and even betrayal. I share those emotions. Please know that your priests feel the same way. All our priests are greatly distressed by the victims' pain and trauma. We also feel a deep sense of shame that the witness of our priestly integrity has been marred by the despicable sins and crimes of a number of our brother priests.
I am committed to doing all that I can, with your help, to insure that the Catholic Church in Western New York will be the safest possible environment for young people. We work every day to insure that goal is met
Our Safe Environment Coordinator, Don Blowey, and his assistant Chris Spraggins are devoted to this work on a full time basis. From the time the diocese began implementing safe environment protocols in October, 2003, 1,298 workshops have trained 41,745 adults.
In 2017 alone, 1,589 individuals were trained. In these years, the diocese has run 41,758 criminal background checks on all clergy and any adult who works with children or youth whether as an employee of the church or a volunteer.
Thousands of children in our school and faith formation have received safe environment training in age appropriate ways.
For example, the "No, Go, Tell" response to anyone who makes a child uncomfortable.
In the higher grades media awareness, safe dating and more adult topics regarding personal safety are addressed.
I want to encourage each of you to keep the faith, which i know right now might be pretty strained. The Diocese of Buffalo is committed to correcting the mistakes and sins of the past while we continue to assist victims.
Thank you for your faith in Jesus Christ and His church. We're all about Jesus. I truly believe that the Church of Buffalo will be stronger for having weathered this current storm.
Before I close, I must mention my deep gratitude for all of the good priests of our diocese -- my brothers -- for their lives of integrity and dedicated pastoral ministry. Please support your pastor and all of our priests as we endure this difficult time along with you.
Thank you, and please join me in praying for all victims of abuse everywhere. Pray for our church in Western New York as we continue to deal with this awful part of our past and carry on our efforts to protect God's children.
May this passion tide bring us close to our crucified Lord as we await the celebration of His resurrection.