BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — The financial future of the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo remains in question as the threat of bankruptcy looms due to the number of lawsuits filed through the Child Victims Act.
But newly named Bishop Edward Scharfenberger, Albany Bishop, named as temporarily leader in Buffalo, is not ready to commit to any financial solution at this time.
“Money is going to be an issue - that’s going to come up,” remarked Bishop Scharfenberger. “Financial transparency – the specter of bankruptcy – those things – we will examine responsible options.”
Scharfenberger making his comments during a news conference Wednesday at the Diocese of Buffalo offices in downtown Buffalo hours after Pope Francis announced the resignation of Bishop Richard Malone.
“Whatever I do will be done with full professional consultation and the decision will be made quickly,” Schrafenberger stated.
Bishop Scharfenberger says when it comes to a decision of filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy, he will consult with experts, but says ultimately, he has the authority to make that decision.
“The prime concern that we have is that the good works that we do can continue, and not be impeded, and also that all of those who have legitimate claims, and need to be helped and given assistance are not deprived of that as well,” Bishop Scharfenberger said.
More than 200 lawsuits have been filed against the diocese through the Child Victims Act.
Legal experts tell 7 Eyewitness News filing for bankruptcy is a legal maneuver that removes a sex abuse case from a jury trial.
We asked Bishop Scharfenberger about that concern for the survivors.
“And I would encourage any survivor to purse whatever means possible in order that – they may have their say – you know,” Bishop Scharfenberger replied.
Bishop Scharfenberger says he is aware the scandal has taken a toll on weekly church collections at parishes, but he says he believes honesty and transparency will help people give again.
“We can't be afraid of reality – we have to be able to soberize, look at the damage that was done. See where it is,” noted Bishop Schartenberger.
“People are very generous and they will give generously and sacrificially to what they believe in and what they believe is good, but they also want to know that what they believe they are giving to is going to go to where they intended to be,” Bishop Schartenberger said.
While serving as a temporary administration for the Buffalo Diocese, Scharfenberger told reporters he is also concerned about all the services provided by the diocese.
“And we’ll be sure that all of those diocesans services are kept in a healthy state so that they can do the mission of the church throughout the diocese,” Bishop Scharfenberger responded.