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A Catholic group wants to restore faith in church following abuse scandal

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) -- - Bishop Richard Malone has asked to meet with local priests and transitional deacons on Monday, but a group of Catholics will be getting together Friday.

From allegations of sex abuse by priests in the Buffalo Diocese to the handling of those claims, many catholics admit their faith in the church is fading.

"Several of our families have left our faith formation, our religious education program because specifically because of this scandal," said Father Paul D. Seil, of St. Bernadette's Church.

Father Paul Seil says he's seeing it firsthand at St. Bernadette's Church in Orchard Park.
He says he's even received calls from abuse victims.

"This is a systemic problem that goes in and out of every layer of the organization," said Father Seil.

During the 60 Minutes interview Sunday, Father Robert Zilliox of Swormville says several priests remain in ministry despite sex abuse claims against them.

In a statement Wednesday, the Diocese says its not aware of any priests in active ministry with claims against them and asks anyone with claims to contact the diocese so that they can be removed.

"We have more work to do if we're going to rebuild the broken church," said Seil.

Now a group of parishioners hopes to help put those pieces back together. Members of the newly formed organization wouldn't speak before Thursday's meeting, but are planning several events to rebuild trust in the church.

Watch Thursday's meeting here:

"Ultimately they may be wanting to things more into their own hands and also claim their role as the people of God, the laity," said Seil.

Father Seil says he doesn't think trust can be restored any time soon.

But he says with lay people and the church working together, eventually it wil be.

"In the end there are 3 things, faith, hope and love and we can't lose sight of that," said Seil.

Father Seil says he's not calling for anyone to step down, but he wants to see changes.

The newly organized group of lay people will meet Thursday morning at Canisius College.


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