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Pope Francis appoints Michael William Fisher new bishop for Diocese of Buffalo

Michael William Fisher
Posted at 7:06 AM, Dec 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-01 07:06:08-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Pope Francis has appointed a new bishop for the Diocese of Buffalo in an announcement from the Vatican on Tuesday morning.

Auxiliary Bishop Michael William Fisher of the Archdiocese of Washington will become the fifteenth bishop of the Diocese of Buffalo. Bishop Fisher will take over for Bishop Edward Scharfenberger, who had acted as Apostolic Administrator for the diocese. Scharfenberger is also bishop of the Diocese of Albany.

Scharfenberger had served in the role following the resignation of Bishop Richard Malone, after decades of abuse allegations against priests and clergy within the diocese came to light in a 7 Eyewitness News I-Team investigation by Charlie Specht.

Bishop Fisher takes over a diocese grappling with the aftermath of that scandal. The diocesedeclared Chapter 11 bankruptcyafter it was faced with hundreds of lawsuits alleging sexual abuse by priests.

In a statement, Fisher said:

“I am deeply humbled and grateful to the Holy Father for this gift to serve the people of Buffalo as their bishop. I am eager to become part of this vibrant faith community, with a proud and distinguished legacy of Catholic education, ministry and civic service. I offer my abiding gratitude and admiration to Bishop Edward Scharfenberger for the generosity of his spirit and his selfless devotion to serving as Apostolic Administrator during this interim period and while also leading the Diocese of Albany. Though the challenges that currently confront the Diocese of Buffalo are many and significant, they are not equal to the resolve of so many committed lay women and men, devoted priests, deacons and religious across Western New York, who are no less determined to reveal God’s transformative love that has the power to bind every wound, renew and make us whole. We would do well to recall the promise in Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians: ‘No eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him.”

Bishop Fisher, 62, is a native of Baltimore, Maryland. He was ordained in 1990 and served as priest until 2005, when he was named a Chaplain by Pope John Paul II, giving him the title monsignor. Pope Francis named him an auxiliary bishop in 2018.

Bishop Fisher will be installed on Friday, January 15 at Saint Joseph Cathedral in Buffalo. Cardinal Timothy Dolan will preside over the installation.