The appointments of a new chairperson and three lay people to the Finance Council of the Diocese of Buffalo are another indication of the positive impact The Movement to Restore Trust (MRT) is having as it asserts the laity’s rightful role in the Church and helps lead a movement to restore trust in the Church in the wake of the clergy sex abuse scandal.

Bishop Richard J. Malone, bishop of Buffalo, has named James J. Beardi of Clarence as chairperson of the council, the first lay person to hold the position in the history of the diocese.

Beardi spent 42 years with M & T Bank, serving as president/CEO of its Mortgage Banking subsidiary. While at M & T, Beardi oversaw mortgage and consumer lending.

The bishop also appointed Carrie B. Frank, Maureen Ludwig, and Frederick G. Attea to the council which is responsible for approving and monitoring the diocesan operating budget and for providing critical input to the bishop in the overall financial affairs of the diocese.

With these appointments, the finance council now consists of seven lay members and five clergy members. Bishop Malone, Auxiliary Bishop Edward M. Grosz, and Vicar General Father Peter J. Karalus serve as ex officio, non-voting members of the council.

MRT Work Group 2, led by Beardi, was very aggressive in its call for comprehensive reform at the diocese, and these appointments are a direct result of their efforts to influence change in the way the diocese operates.

“Critical to the mission of the Movement to Restore Trust is increased transparency and in particular, financial transparency,” Beardi said. “With my appointment and that of three new highly-qualified lay members, we are encouraged about our ability to achieve this objective.”

Frank is principal and consultant at Frank Executive Solutions. The Getzville resident previously worked as vice president of Quality and Health Informatics at Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, executive vice president of Operations and Finance at Kaleida Health and was chief operating officer at Buffalo General Hospital.

Ludwig, a certified public accountant who lives in East Aurora, is managing director, State Regulatory Matters, for Deloitte LLP. She specializes in analyzing the state accountancy laws and regulations, with exceptional knowledge of the state regulatory and public policy issues facing the accounting profession and professional services firms.

Attea is senior counsel with Phillips Lytle, LLP, where he is engaged in securities and corporate practice with emphasis on mergers and acquisitions, securities law, corporate governance and legal compliance programs. He lives in Buffalo.

Clark, Ludwig and Attea attended their first Finance Council meeting on June 17.

“This is a welcome development in our effort to establish co-responsibility between the ordained clergy and the laity as an essential operating principle for the Diocese of Buffalo,” said John J. Hurley, a leader of the organizing committee of the MRT. “Building trust in ways big and small is the goal of the MRT.”

The MRT work groups focused on six areas:

  1. Transparency around the nature and scale of abuse in the diocese and financial and spiritual reparations for victims/survivors
  2. Transparency about all diocesan operations
  3. Accountability for bishops
  4. Selecting and monitoring bishops
  5. Greater involvement by women and laity in the Church
  6. Improvements in the formation of priests and priestly life

The MRT Organizing Committee is reviewing the full recommendations with the bishop and a group of priests of the diocese in preparation for release to the public.

The ongoing diocesan Listening Sessions are also a direct result of an MRT work group recommendation, and members of the MRT Organizing Committee participated in this month’s diocesan Priest’s Convocation at Christ the King Seminary, where they discussed their work with members of the clergy and listened to their thoughts regarding the work of the MRT.

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The Movement to Restore Trust is 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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