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Clergy sexual abuse survivor calls for Scharfenberger's removal

Michael Mroziak
Former priest and sexual abuse victim Robert Hoatson has become a leader calling for diocese transparency.

There is more fallout from Apostolic Administrator Bishop Edward Schargenberger's decision to hold a meeting with Buffalo Catholic Diocese priests, including some suspended as credibly accused of sexual abuse.

The bishop met with most of the diocese's priests a week ago today in St. Leo the Great Church to talk about probable bankruptcy and participate in Mass.

"He doesn't get it" was the response Sunday from former priest and sexual abuse victim Robert Hoatson. Hoatson is now calling for New York City Cardinal Archbishop Timothy Dolan to remove Scharfenberger as apostolic administrator.

"It sounds like Bishop Scharfenberger, who in his early days there in Buffalo seemed to at least get most of what was happening, was favoring now the pedophile priests," said Hoatson, "and I don't know if he realized it or not, but by doing so, he revictimized, he retruamatized the many victims."

The bishop said there was nothing wrong with what was supposed to be a private meeting with the priests but became public, but Scharfenberger said he is sorry.

Credit Michael Apollo / WAMC
Albany Bishop Edward Scharfenberger replaced Bishop Richard Malone as interim leader of the Buffalo Catholic Diocese.

"I really regret that it was something that was offensive to some and certainly the last thing I want to do. I want to heal wounds not open them up," said the interim bishop. "So anything that I can say to reassure anybody who's listening that I will do everything in my power to continue to try to heal and whatever that takes, I will do."

Hoatson said being in a meeting with the suspended priests suggests Scharfenberger doesn't understand what those men did and can't properly help and console victims. The apostolic administrator says he is sorry that conclusion is being drawn.

Scharfenberger said the diocese has some supervision over suspended priests, like those who were at the meeting. They are not allowed to dress as priests or say public masses. He said the diocese has no control over those who have been removed by the Vatican from the priesthood.

"What I do in my home diocese in Albany is we have priests that actually keep close contact with all of those priests that are not laicized, and by that I mean those that we have no real control over," Scharfnberger said, "but if they are still suspended but still technically within the clergy of the diocese, yes, we do keep close track on them."

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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