Buffalo, N.Y. (WBEN) - On the eve before the filing window for the New York Child Victims Act opened, Bishop Richard Malone of the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo issued an apology. In the written and video message, Malone says, "I want to again express my personal apology and that of the Diocese of Buffalo to victim-survivors of abuse."
So many cases of abuse occurred decades ago yet I know, from my own meetings with victim-survivors, that their pain and despair is ever-present in their daily lives. I continue to pray that victim-survivors achieve as much healing and wholeness as possible. It is my hope that the Child Victims Act will go a long way toward the justice they so deeply deserve.
In the description of this video message is a link to some frequently asked questions regarding the Child Victims Act. I encourage you to read it carefully to learn and understand how the CVA will affect both victim-survivors and our Diocese. While the litigation filed in the courts over the next year will recount horrific details of abuse, I want to assure everyone that children within the Church today are safe. Our diocese follows the best practices for protecting our children in the Catholic Church, established by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Some of the examples of the proactive procedures currently integrated into every dimension of the Church’s life are:
• The outreach of bishops and survivors’ assistance coordinators to survivors and their families
• Following the Charter for Protection of Children and Young People with a firm zero tolerance policy regarding sexual abuse
• Immediate reporting and cooperation with civil authorities
• Diocesan and parish audits
• The ongoing training of clergy, employees and volunteers to prevent child abuse (VIRTUS) - over 43,000
• Background checks on clergy, employees and volunteers charged with oversight of minor - over 45,000
• Screening and solid formation of our seminarians preparing to become priests
A point of information: there have been three diocesan priests against whom there have been substantiated allegations of child sexual abuse since the year 2000. And there have been no substantiated claims of child sexual abuse against any diocesan priest ordained in the past 30 years. In order to report abuse, please call 911 or your local authorities and contact Jackie Joy, the Diocesan Victims Assistance Coordinator, at 716.895.3010.
Throughout the difficult months ahead, I also want to assure you that the good and holy work of the Church will continue through our parishes, schools and other ministries and institutions. At this time, it is uncertain how long it will take to respond to all the claims of the CVA. Our primary concern is to do the right thing for the victim-survivors of abuse and, at the same time, ensure that the mission of our Church continues.
Every Good Friday, the Church in its liturgy, calls us to directly look and confront the suffering of Our Lord on the cross. At the end of that dark day, the followers of Jesus were confused, hurt, and seemingly lost. The suffering of victim-survivors calls us, through their suffering, to embrace the cross. The Church walks with them, shares their suffering, and we, as an Easter people, pray and work toward a new dawn of hope and grace in the Holy Spirit.
In Christ’s Peace,
Most Rev. Richard J. Malone, Th.D.
Bishop of Buffalo