A "Renewal Task Force" has been formed to address the daunting financial reality facing the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo.
The diocese is working through a Chapter 11 reorganization as it deals with dozens of lawsuits against former clergy members accused of sexually abusing children. It outlined the purpose of the task force in a morning release.
“The fact is, many of our parishes and schools are struggling and their viability is uncertain," said Bishop Edward Scharfenberger. The task force "aims to be a broad-based initiative to redefine the relevance and impact of Catholic faith in Western New York."
The task force is co-chaired by retired Rich Products attorney Maureen Hurley, who with her husband, Canisius College President John Hurley, is an organizer of the Movement to Restore Trust; and Rev. Msgr. David LiPuma, pastor of Our Lady of Victory Basilica.
It is instructed to "look at best practices regionally and nationally to learn how others have, or are, facing similar challenges with regard to diminished financial resources and reduced church and school attendance, but who nonetheless have been successful in promoting a culture of co-responsibility among laity, clergy and religious in carrying out the work of evangelization, education and service," the release said.
The task force will hold a series of listening sessions to gather parish input before moving forward. While not mentioned directly in the statement, consolidation or elimination of parishes and schools appears inevitable.