BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Newly appointed Buffalo Bishop Michael Fisher started his tenure on Tuesday with lofty words for Catholics reeling from two years of intense scandal and a diocese in bankruptcy.
“I am first and foremost your brother in faith, your coworker, in bringing about the kingdom of God in our midst,” Fisher said in a virtual news conference with reporters.
Fisher pledged to be honest and open, something a recent report by New York State Attorney General Letitia James said was lacking in former Bishop Richard J. Malone and his predecessors.
“Well that’s what I’m going to commit to is certainly full transparency and accountability,” Fisher said.
Abuse survivor Kevin Brun was cautiously optimistic.
“I’ve had hopes in the past but they’ve been dashed,” Brun said during a brief phone interview before Fisher’s news conference. “But I’m hopeful again. I can’t help but be hopeful for the sake of survivors.”
The only transparency of late has come not from the diocese, but AG James, who published a 218-page report culled from abusive priests’ personnel files that the diocese had kept hidden.
A Vatican report written late last year by Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio on the state of the Buffalo Diocese under Malone still has not been made public by church leaders in Rome.
“In the interest of transparency, is that something that you would seek the Vatican’s permission to make public so that people fully know what’s gone on here?”
“Again, that is something that I will need to look at. I’ve just been named [bishop] today and have not been given the details of those things yet.”