Bishop Edward Scharfenberger of Albany, who earlier this week was named the apostolic administrator for the Diocese of Buffalo, tells a Catholic weekly publication that bankruptcy is a "likelihood" for the diocese.
Scharfenberger, in an interview with Our Sunday Visitor, discussed the tasks awaiting him as he temporarily oversees Diocese of Buffalo operations while the Vatican searches for a permanent replacement for Bishop Richard Malone, whose resignation was announced earlier this week.
Currently, the Diocese of Buffalo is named in more than 200 lawsuits filed by plaintiffs seeking civil action for past abuses, allegedly conducted by clergy within the diocese. Back in September, Malone stated bankruptcy was among the options under consideration, along with litigation. Buffalo's current caretaker was asked if the diocese might file for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy as it ponders the forthcoming financial hits it will take.
"I think that’s a likelihood," he told Our Sunday Visitor. "I think that has to be faced, and sooner rather than later. I would probably be the one to make that ultimate call, but I would want to make sure there wasn’t any other reasonable option.
"My major concern is that whatever is done would not impact negatively on the rights and interests of victims who would have claims. Obviously, the diocese also has to be able to operate its spiritual and pastoral mission. The purpose of Chapter 11 would be to protect both the legitimate claims as well as the diocese’s needs to have the necessary resources to do its mission. If that’s the best way to do it, then that’s what we’ll do."
Scharfenberger is expected to attend and speak at Saturday morning's Movement to Restore Trust symposium at Canisius College, which will be held in the Montante Cultural Center from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. Following Wednesday's introductory news conference in Buffalo, the bishop told reporters in Albany what he stated in Buffalo, that he intend to have an open and frank conversation to begin a healing process which he admits will not be easy.
"We all want to see trust happen but we all know it takes a long time to bring trust, and it takes a long time to build trust," Scharfenberger said to Albany reporters. "Actions speak louder than words. To me, trust is a gift that somebody gives to you. It's not something you can buy or earn."