WILLIAMSVILLE, NY (WKBW) — Is the Catholic priest scandal in Buffalo's Catholic Diocese hurting a parish's bottom line? St. Gregory the Great in Williamsville says it is experiencing a large deficit.
A recent parish letter states many parishioners are worried their contributions could end up paying for the diocese's legal settlements.
St. Gregory the Great parish on Maple Road is considered one of the largest and wealthiest Catholic churches in Western New York.
It has more than 5,000 registered families and includes a school.
But a couple of weeks ago parishioners received this letter stating, for the first time in more than ten years, St. Greg's is running a more than half a million-dollar deficit and has been forced to cut costs and eliminated staff positions.
“I think the people are staying away,” said Paul McGee, St. Greg parishioner.
McGee tell us he's not attending church as often as he did because he can't condone what he calls the "lack of accountability" by the diocese in the handling the clergy abuse scandal.
“I don't feel confident in this leadership at this diocese and I feel like giving donations to this bishop - through our parishes - is a sign for me that I accept their behavior and - I don't", McGee declared.
The St. Greg's letter tries to ensure church-goers financial support will stay in the parish and is needed to maintain the buildings. But it explains all area catholic churches are required to pay a diocesan assessment. However, its state’s quote "it's important to note that these assessments are not utilized to fund the on-going legal settlements from the diocese."
“As long as Bishop Malone continues to push to the parishes – that he's in charge – he's the right man for the job and he's the only one that can fix this – and bringing someone from the outside isn't going to change this. What really is going to change? Nothing,” McGee concluded.
The diocese responded to our request for an interview with a statement issued by St. Greg's. It says the letter speaks for itself and contributions are needed "to meet the on-going financial needs of the parish."
We did reach out to the pastor of St. Greg's for comment, but we were told he wasn't available.