A Movement to Restore Trust in the Diocese of Buffalo
An organization of independent concerned, committed Catholics in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo has been 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 the shocking disclosures about the Diocese’s handling of sex abuse cases involving clergy in Buffalo.
Who We Are
We are a group of concerned, committed Catholics who are brokenhearted, disillusioned and, yes, angry about the sex abuse crisis in the Catholic Church in the United States, and particularly in our Diocese.
We love our Church and are committed to the salvation promised by Jesus Christ through the message of the Gospels. We are active in our parishes and in the life of the Diocese. We are visible supporters of the many ministries of the Church in the Diocese of Buffalo, including: Catholic schools, the Catholic Health System, and Catholic Charities.
We grieve for those who have suffered sex abuse at the hands of clergy and we are committed to healing and just compensation for victims and to the eradication of this evil from the Church.
We are dismayed at the state of the Diocese and fearful for its future. We do not believe that the Diocese is on the right path or is able to reform itself without significant involvement of the laity. We are determined to help the Church in Buffalo look forward, implement meaningful reforms, and restore the faithful’s trust and confidence.
We are above all committed to the Vatican II ideal that the Church is not simply the clergy, it is not simply the hierarchy, and it is not just the Vatican or the Chancery; the Church is the people of God. In short, we all are the Church.
We seek to give voice to Catholics who share our sadness, frustration and disillusionment about the state of the Diocese. We seek to educate and empower the laity of the Diocese.
We come forward in a spirit of faithfulness. We seek constructive reform, not revolution. In all that we do, we seek to act in conformity with Catholic beliefs and canon law.
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 in order to restore trust and safeguard the essential mission of the Catholic Church.
We wish to enlist the women religious of the Diocese in our work so that we promote the essential role of women both lay and religious in the life of the Church.
The voices of survivors and their families must be a strong presence in this initiative.
We seek to help lead the Church in Buffalo to a new place, a state marked by:
- A commitment to Co-Responsibility: the creation of a Church in which lay Catholics work hand in hand with ordained Catholics, in an equal partnership;
- Complete transparency about past and current instances of sex abuse and a process for dealing with those cases that will inspire trust and confidence;
- New transparent structures for bishop accountability;
- Openness and transparency; a way of addressing leadership failure and eliminating outdated and secretive management practices.
In all that we do, we are committed to six basic principles: co-responsibility, transparency, accountability, competency, justice and trust.
We seek to lean forward and point to this new day, rather than dwell on the past.
An Agenda for Reform
In consultation with national experts, including Leadership Roundtable, the following plan for reform in the Church should guide our efforts in Buffalo. We would seek to develop an accelerated yet realistic timetable for adoption and implementation of an agenda that would include:
- Publicly committing to develop and invest in a new culture of leadership and moral management that is transparent and accountable;
- Implementing a leadership and management model based on standards of best practices properly adapted to ecclesiology and Canon Law;
- Creating an enduring mechanism to ensure checks and balances at multiple levels of the Church with credible oversight;
- Convening and including independent lay experts from a range of disciplines in investigations, review boards, and other leadership and management positions;
- Establishing mechanisms for full financial transparency and accountability;
- Ensuring human resource practices that include effective selection, training, assignment, and evaluations;
- Investing in leadership and management training in seminary education and ongoing formation programs for lay ecclesial ministers, diocesan staff, seminarians, deacons, priests, and bishops;
- Rebuilding trust based on transparent and measurable change in the new leadership and management culture.
Dated: November 1, 2018
Paul D. Bauer
Thomas R. Beecher, Jr.
Robert M. Greene
John J. Hurley
Maureen O. Hurley
Carl J. Montante, Sr.
Mary Travers Murphy
Nancy H. Nielsen
Nancy W. Ware