Blue­print for trust

Lay panel of Catholics’ rec­om­men­da­tions give Buf­falo Dio­cese a use­ful frame­work

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The Move­ment to Re­store Trust is a panel of in­flu­en­tial lo­cal Catholics work­ing to sug­gest re­forms to the church in Buf­falo in the af­ter­math of the sex­ual abuse scan­dal that opened wounds in the dio­cese.

The panel, af­ter con­ven­ing six dif­fer­ent work groups that each came up with its own rec­om­men­da­tions, this month de­liv­ered a re­port with nine key rec­om­men­da­tions for the Buf­falo Dio­cese. They de­serve to be im­ple­mented.

The nine points urge the dio­cese to: work with the laity to re­store trust; make changes vol­un­tar­ily; ad­dress the needs of sur­vivors for sup­port; pro­vide full trans­parency into the scale of the sex­ual abuse; en­sure “the faith­ful” are cen­tral to the church’s or­ga­ni­za­tional struc­tures; del­e­gate more author­ity to con­sul­ta­tive bod­ies in the dio­cese; sched­ule pe­ri­odic re­views of im­ple­men­ta­tion; en­gage the lead­er­ship roundtable and “re­vive the Spirit of Vat­i­can II.”

Bishop Richard J. Malone would do well to see that all nine are im­ple­mented. The Vat­i­can II ideal, ac­cord­ing to the Move­ment to Re­store Trust web­site (move­ment­tore­storetrust.org), is that “the Church is not sim­ply the clergy, it is not sim­ply the hi­er­ar­chy, and it is not just the Vat­i­can or the Chancery; the Church is the peo­ple of God.”

That state­ment ar­tic­u­lates the rea­son for the move­ment’s ex­is­tence: to give faith­ful Catholics a role in help­ing the church in Buf­falo heal its wounds. The in­su­lar­ity of the church hi­er­ar­chy con­trib­uted to a cover-up cul­ture that al­lowed crimes to go un­de­tected or un­pun­ished for decades. As re­ports sur­faced last year about ac­cused abusers who were trans­ferred from one pas­toral as­sign­ment to an­other, or vic­tims whose ac­cu­sa­tions were brushed aside, there was a pub­lic back­lash that hurt the dio­cese. High-pro­file mem­bers of the com­mu­nity called on Malone to re­sign, and the pub­lic-re­la­tions fall­out did noth­ing to al­le­vi­ate al­ready de­clin­ing church en­roll­ment.

Cani­sius Col­lege Pres­i­dent John Hur­ley and his wife, Mau­reen, helped con­vene a group of nine lay peo­ple for the move­ment’s board last Oc­to­ber. Vol­un­teers from through­out the re­gion joined the ef­fort, and six work groups were con­vened to study var­i­ous ar­eas of con­cern. They pro­duced more than 50 pages of doc­u­ments that went into the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s list of rec­om­men­da­tions.

The bishop’s re­sponse to the Move­ment to Re­store Trust is promis­ing. Malone, in a let­ter sent to Hur­ley, wrote that he is happy “to of­fer gen­eral sup­port” to the prin­ci­ples out­lined, and he pro­posed a “joint im­ple­men­ta­tion team” of lay peo­ple, priests and per­haps dioce­san staff “that would work out par­tic­u­lars” for each rec­om­men­da­tion.

There’s plenty for such a team to im­ple­ment. It’s an open ques­tion if the dio­cese – and the church in gen­eral – will ever fully re­gain their cred­i­bil­ity, but they surely won’t with­out con­sul­ta­tion and co­op­er­a­tion driv­ing the work.

The re­ply came from Phil Leone, who was re­garded as one of the best fire­fight­ers. He said, “There’s no sweeter sound to a pipe­man’s ears (men with the noz­zle) than the rat-a-ta-ta of a truc­kee open­ing the roof.”

Back in those days self-con­tained breath­ing ap­pli­ances were very sel­dom used. Guys prided them­selves as “smoke eaters.” They’d crawl in with noz­zle in tow, with their noses an inch off the floor, stay­ing as low as pos­si­ble while try­ing to find the ex­act lo­ca­tion of the fire.

He con­tin­ued, “We’d be in there tak­ing a beat­ing un­til that rat-a-tat was heard. Slowly the smoke would lift. With each blow it would rise more – un­til a couch or chair, or what­ever, would light up and we’d hit it.” (Water to the fire.)

Ven­ti­la­tion is done sev­eral dif­fer­ent ways. It can be break­ing win­dows, open­ing doors or the My View

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