Archbishop Christophe Pierre tells faithful of Diocese of Buffalo he understands their concerns
John J. Hurley, member of the Movement to Restore Trust (MRT) Organizing Committee, met with Archbishop Christophe Pierre, papal nuncio to the United States, on Jan. 31 at the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, D.C.
During the hourlong conversation, Hurley briefed Archbishop Pierre on MRT’s December 7 Symposium at Canisius College and the discernment on the qualities necessary in the next Bishop of Buffalo. Hurley said that the Nuncio agreed that the qualities identified by the faithful in Buffalo were desirable qualities: transparent, honest, humble, holy, collaborative, servant leader, and willing to make tough decisions.
“He told me to tell the people of Buffalo that he understands our concerns,” Hurley said. “I told him that the major challenges ahead included the expected filing of a bankruptcy petition by the diocese. Archbishop Pierre said he was concerned about the decline in revenue in the diocese of Buffalo and the recently reported $5 million loss in the previous fiscal year. I also told him that it will be essential in the bankruptcy case for the diocese to develop a breakeven operating plan, which means the deficit will have to be addressed.”
Hurley and the archbishop also discussed that many of the priests in the diocese are fearful and demoralized. “I told the Nuncio that the priests of the diocese need someone who will really listen to them and try to meet their needs, even while the bankruptcy case is pending. This includes giving them accurate and timely information about the bankruptcy case and what this means for their parishes so that they can assure the faithful.”
The two also agreed that it was essential that the diocese begin to work on revitalizing parish life because there has been so much damage done to the parishes over the past two years.
“We talked about where the Church finds itself – at a missionary moment where we need to be focused on the encounter with Christ,” Hurley said. “Archbishop Pierre said that the Pope’s Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel) provides the vision for the Church. I told him that I thought that the faithful in Buffalo would be receptive to this message after all we’ve been through.”
Hurley renewed MRT’s commitment to work with the next bishop of Buffalo on this view of the Church.
“Archbishop Pierre urged us all to pray for the intercession of the Holy Spirit as Pope Francis selects our next bishop,” Hurley said.
The meeting was arranged in response to a letter Hurley sent to the Nuncio informing him of the results of the MRT symposium on Dec. 7. Bishop Edward Scharfenberger, apostolic administrator of the diocese, was informed of the meeting ahead of time. Upon his return from Washington, Hurley briefed Bishop Scharfenberger on the meeting.
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The Movement to Restore Trust concluded that a bankruptcy filing by the diocese was inevitable