A Letter from the Organizing Committee for the Movement to Restore Trust

We are pleased to submit The Initial Reports of the Movement to Restore Trust Working Groups which is guiding the work of our group of independent, concerned and committed Catholics to address the Diocese of Buffalo’s handling of sex abuse cases involving clergy, seek justice for survivors of sexual abuse and help the Church of Buffalo look forward, implement meaningful reforms, and restore the faithful’s trust and confidence.

The MRT was formed in October 2018 and in early December created six working groups to address specific areas of inquiry. Those groups met from December 2018 through March 2019 to develop this initial set of reports. They consulted subject matter experts, studied foundational Catholic documents, and looked at best practices from across the United States. Some workgroups consulted Canon lawyers as part of their work.

These reports represent the best thinking of the approximately 150 people who participated in the work groups. This Initial Report includes an Executive Summary prepared by the Organizing Committee as a way of framing the process, findings and recommendations of the work groups for Bishop Richard Malone. It also includes a summary of the recommendations by work group, again prepared by the Organizing Committee to begin our discussions with the Diocese of Buffalo.

The full reports need to be set in the context of what we are doing with the MRT.

  • Upon receipt of the Executive Summary and the summary of recommendations, Bishop Malone wrote to the MRT and said that these represented a basis for moving forward. He suggested the creation of a Joint Implementation Team (JIT) comprised of MRT representatives and diocesan representatives and reporting to both Bishop Malone and me, on behalf of the MRT. That process is underway, and several recommendations are in the process of being implemented.
  • The reports represent the best thoughts and work of dedicated laity involved in this process. The work groups worked quickly, and the recommendations are based in many cases on perceptions of what is occurring in the diocese. In some cases, subsequent meetings with diocesan representatives have clarified matters and this process is ongoing.
  • Similarly, the recommendations represent the best efforts of work group members, who in some cases were working with less than complete information. They are proposed as recommendations to be discussed by the JIT. The MRT understands that some may already be in process, some may be impossible under current Canon law, and some may not be acceptable for other reasons. We remain available to an open dialogue about all of these recommendations.

We continue to pray for the intercession of the Holy Spirit in guiding this important work for the victims of sexual abuse and the Church of Buffalo.

For the Organizing Committee,
John J. Hurley

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The Vatican’s Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith defines an apostolic visitation as “an exceptional initiative of the Holy See which involves sending a Visitor or Visitors to evaluate an ecclesiastical institute such as a seminary, diocese, or religious institute. Apostolic Visitations are intended to assist the institute in question to improve the way in which it carries out its function in the life of the Church.”

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