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Victim advocate calls on Scharfenberger to release Vatican report on Buffalo diocese

File photo by Michael Mroziak

James Faluszczak, a former priest and well-known Buffalo advocate for survivors of clergy abuse, is calling on the new interim administrator of the Diocese of Buffalo to release the Vatican’s full report into its handling of sexual abuse cases. Bishop Edward Scharfenberger of Albany was named temporary head of the diocese following the Dec. 4 resignation of Bishop Richard Malone. The Vatican accepted Malone’s resignation after widespread outcry and calls for his removal over his handling of sexual abuse allegations within the diocese.

"Scharfenberger is now the Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Buffalo. Will he finally give to the good people of the Diocese of Buffalo a full public account of the number, the nature and the location of clergy sexual abuse in Buffalo?," Faluszczak questioned at a news conference Tuesday in New York City.

Faluszczak, who is a survivor of clergy abuse perpetrated when he was a teenager in Pennsylvania, said Scharfenberger is the protégée of Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, who conducted the Buffalo investigation, and that both men are part of a cover-up by withholding the report. He also said the bishops are likely afraid of excommunication should they reveal information without permission from the Vatican.

"As he pointed out in last week’s press conference, Bishop Scharfenberger does not have the authority to release the report," the Diocese of Albany said in a written response. "It is the property of the Holy See and only the Holy See can release the report."

Along with the Buffalo report, Faluszczak called for details to be released about the internal investigation of Bishop Howard Hubbard, Scharfenberger's predecessor in Albany. Hubbard faces at least four lawsuits filed under the Child Victims Act accusing him of repeated sexual abuse and covering up similar allegations against other priests.

"Did Bishop Edward Scharfenberger know about allegations against Bishop Hubbard? All of these years that he's now been the bishop of Albany, has he sat on these? And has he not shared his knowledge of these allegations against retired Bishop Hubbard?," Faluszczak asked.

The Diocese of Albany said it is not overseeing the Hubbard investigation, which has been forwarded to Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York.

Faluszczak also said Scharfenberger tried to evade questions from members of the media at a news conference last week about how much contact he had with Bishop Malone before taking over as apostolic administrator last week.

"Bishop Scharfenberger has spent just two days in the Diocese of Buffalo—and most of that time was spent talking with media, engaging with members of the clergy and meeting staff," the Albany Diocese said. "At the appropriate time, the Bishop will provide further information about his recommendations and decisions. It is Bishop Scharfenberger’s intention to engage regularly with the media and ensure as much clarity as possible about the issues facing the Diocese of Buffalo and its future direction."

Kyle Mackie is a multimedia journalist with reporting experience in Israel and the Palestinian territories, the Western Balkans and New York City. She joined WBFO to cover education and more in June 2019.
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