An independent organization of concerned, committed Catholics in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo formed to assert the laity’s rightful role in the Church and to help lead a movement to restore trust and confidence in the Church in the wake of public disclosures about the Diocese’s handling of clergy sex abuse cases.

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An op-ed by Bishop Mike

This op-ed by Bishop Mike was published in the Sunday, September 26, 2021 edition of The Buffalo News. In it, he mentions the MRT:

Buffalo bishop charts course toward healing wounds of sex abuse scandal, restoring trust in the Church

Some eight months ago, I arrived in Buffalo as a new and enthusiastic resident, with a new position and a clear mandate: to lead the Catholic Church of Western New York as its 15th bishop and to serve the faithful as a true pastor and shepherd.

I made it my first priority to listen and engage with the broadest cross section of those who have been so affected by what I consider and regularly describe as unconscionable crimes against the most vulnerable – the sexual abuse of minors by those who presented themselves as servants of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Since then, I have met with victim-survivors, lay Catholic leaders and parishioners, those of the Movement to Restore Trust, civic leaders, educators, members of the news media and priests, deacons and members of religious orders here in the Diocese. I have experienced their anger, their pain, their utter dismay and frustration, and yes, their hope.

I have welcomed their ideas and advice for what we can and should do to restore trust and the credibility of Church leaders, and begin to write a new, more promising chapter for Catholic faith and impact throughout our region. I am under no illusions. The road will be long and often difficult.

We have embarked on the “Road to Renewal” as a way to consider how we can better harness our collective resources to more effectively serve the considerable material and spiritual needs of those who depend on the good that the Church provides, while rediscovering zeal for the Gospel of Jesus and our mission to evangelize and minister. At the same time, we are working through the complexities of our Chapter 11 reorganization, precisely in order to achieve some level of restitution and sense of justice for the largest number of those who have been harmed however long ago, while also continuing the vital work of faith that serves so many critical needs in Buffalo and surrounding communities.

Ultimately, our commitment to ensuring that the crimes and sins of the past cannot be repeated in the present will be measured not by what we say but by what we do. This requires a “zero-tolerance” policy for any member of the clergy, lay employee or volunteer who commits an act of abuse toward a minor or vulnerable person, or an act of harassment toward an adult.

It means deferring first to law enforcement authorities if and when there is an allegation of a crime; it means strict adherence to rigorous policies and protocols in dealing with behaviors that violate our clear Code of Conduct, regardless of rank or status; it means effective monitoring and regular independent auditing to ensure that our efforts to ensure safe, healthy and Christ-centered environments for young and old alike can withstand the harshest scrutiny.

This is what I pledge as bishop and how I personally expect to be held accountable. While I pray constantly for the healing of those who have had to carry the awful burden of abuse with them for however long, I accept that some will not be able to ever feel at home within the same Church where they were once betrayed.

Still, we must do everything within our power to demonstrate that they have been heard and their pain acknowledged. Only then do we have the right to ask forgiveness and dare to hope that, with the awesome grace of God, it might be granted.

A link to the article in the Sunday, September 26, 2021 can be found here.


December 1, 2020

The Movement to Restore Trust (MRT), a movement of the lay faithful committed to rebuilding the Church of Buffalo in the wake of the clergy sex abuse scandal, welcomes the appointment of Bishop Michael W. Fisher as the 15th Bishop of Buffalo.


On December 7, 2019, The Movement to Restore Trust (MRT) hosted a symposium to begin to chart the path forward in our diocese.  

Bishop Edward Scharfenberger, newly appointed apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Buffalo and bishop of Albany, was in attendance and delivered opening remarks.

Click on the button below to view the Video of this event.

Who We Are

We are an independent group of concerned Catholics who are committed to our faith, to restoring trust in our Diocese and to the Vatican II ideal that we, laity and ordained alike, are all the church.

Our Mission

We seek to give voice to Catholics who share deep concerns about the state of the Diocese. Through constructive reform, not revolution, we seek to act in conformity with Catholic beliefs and canon law.

What We Are Doing

We are recruiting interested lay people, religious women and the clergy of the Diocese in developing a path forward for our Diocese, in line with Catholic beliefs, ecclesiology and canon law.

Work Groups

Six work groups have been formed based on The Movement to Restore Trust proposed areas of inquiry.  Each group is intended to address one of the these issues

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From what I’ve seen around the country, I can’t think of a single place where you have a better organized, more talented set of lay individuals who want to partner with their church and their bishop than in Buffalo. And all I can say is that things in the Diocese of Buffalo are moving as quickly as I’ve seen anywhere in the country.

Dominic Perri

Senior Leadership Consultant
Leadership Roundtable

I see their [MRT’s] model as both heart and head. They are keenly aware that people are deeply wounded and angry and committed to their church, and so there’s a process to care for that. And there’s also a process looking at how can we address the leadership culture and the trust rebuilding and the institution of the church moving forward.

Kim Smolik

Chief Executive Officer
Leadership Roundtable

Leadership Roundtable is an organization of laity, religious, and clergy working together to promote best practices and accountability in the management, finances, communications, and human resource development of the Catholic Church in the U.S. including greater incorporation of the expertise of the laity.

(from WBFO Radio interviews)

We Believe

That the voices of survivors of sex abuse and their families must be a strong presence in this initiative. We believe that Catholics, lay and ordained, must walk together toward the holiness to which we are called, and create a new culture of leadership and management that is transparent, accountable, competent, and grounded in justice for survivors in order to restore trust and safeguard the essential mission of the Catholic Church.

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