The Diocese of Brooklyn has issued a statement, saying Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio visited Buffalo earlier this week and interviewed 30 people as part of his Apostolic Visitation. Bishop DiMarzio is investigating the Buffalo Catholic Diocese's handling of sexual abuse cases. Movement to Restore Trust leader John Hurley said he was surprised the bishop had not contacted anyone from MRT, making him wonder the nature of the investigation.
Still, Hurley told WBFO he is pleased the investigation started so quickly after its announcement.
"Actually, when we heard that the Vatican had instead ordered an Apostolic Visitation, I think we were more encouraged," Hurley said, "because this was going to be, I think, a more wide-ranging investigation and it won't be subject to the specific timeframes of the Vos Estis procedure. It would allow more leeway by the investigator Bishop DiMarzio, to look into all matters that he thought were relevant and not be hamstrung by a particular process."
Hurley said the Vos Estis procedure was approved by the U.S. Conference of Bishops in June. Given it is newness, he said it may have taken longer to implement in Buffalo. The Apostolic Visitation was announced, then began in a just a week and Hurley said Catholic media are reporting "this may be on a faster track than earlier believed."
Hurley said Buffalo may be only part of a global problem, but the diocese is being watched at the highest levels.
"Yes, the Holy Father is aware of the situation here in Buffalo," he said. "Frankly, I think it's a source of great concern and embarrassment for the bishops in the United States, that this is going on unaddressed while they are trying to assure the American public the bishops mean business about cleaning up the Church."
Hurley said in two of three recent Apostolic Visitations across the country, the bishop was removed.
MRT, itself, has joined others in the call for Bishop Richard Malone to resign. Hurley said the group has had no communication with the Buffalo diocese since, but MRT's efforts are continuing.
"If there's an extended period of uncertainty here with Bishop Malone remaining in office, we would like to work with interested parishes and the laity and the clergy of the diocese on the reform agenda, the parts of it that don't require the bishop's involvement," Hurley said.
He said many people have expressed concerns that "walking away from the work with the central office of the diocese" means the reform movement is dead. Hurley said the answer is "no." He said MRT expects to make an announcement in that regard in the coming weeks and hold another symposium to discuss next moves.
The Brooklyn Diocese said DiMarzio plans to return to Buffalo for more meetings later this month. Once he completes his investigation, he will submit a report to the Congregation for Bishops at the Vatican.
WBFO reached out to Leadership Roundtable, which had been serving as a facilitater of talks between the Buffalo diocese and MRT. LR issued the following statement:
“Leadership Roundtable’s policy is not to comment on the specifics of any ongoing investigations. Leadership Roundtable is dismayed by the continuing revelations in the Diocese of Buffalo and repeats its call for accountability, transparency and the co-responsibility of laity and clergy to create a new culture of leadership in the Church. Leadership Roundtable sends our prayers to all the people in the Diocese of Buffalo in these difficult times.”