BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — A new Bishop has been named in the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo.

The Diocese announced Tuesday morning that Michael William Fisher has been appointed by Pope Francis.

Fisher, who will become the 15th Bishop of the Diocese of Buffalo, says he is “deeply humbled and grateful to the Holy Father for this gift to serve the people of Buffalo as their Bishop.”

“Though the challenges that currently confront the Diocese of Buffalo are many and significant, they are not equal to the resolve of so many committed lay women and men, devoted priests, deacons and religious across Western New York, who are no less determined to reveal God’s transformative love that has the power to bind every wound, renew and make us whole,” Fisher says. “We would do well to recall the promise in Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians: ‘No eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him.’”

Following the controversial exit of former bishop Richard Malone, Albany Bishop Edward Scharfenberger began serving as Apostolic Administrator for the Buffalo Diocese.

Scharfenberger calls this “a blessed and wonderful day for the good people across western New York.”

 “In Bishop Michael Fisher, they have been given a priest, pastor and bishop whose passion to serve, to listen, to heal and comfort have distinguished his 30-year ministry. It has been among my life’s great joys to get to know and assist this faith-filled community, to accompany them in their initial steps on the path toward renewal and redefine the enormous potential of the Church to accomplish so much good across this region,” Scharfenberger says.

Fisher is 62 years old and a native of Baltimore. He previously served as an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Washington and a chaplain to Pope John Paul II.

Fisher’s installation will take place on January 15 in the Cathedral of Saint Joseph in Buffalo.

The Movement to Restore Trust group released a statement on the appointment this morning saying:

The Movement to Restore Trust (MRT), a movement of the lay faithful committed to rebuilding the Church of Buffalo in the wake of the clergy sex abuse scandal, welcomes the appointment of Bishop Michael W. Fisher as the 15th Bishop of Buffalo.

Bishop Fisher steps into a very challenging situation as the Diocese of Buffalo seeks to complete its reorganization in federal bankruptcy court in a manner that will provide some measure of justice to the victims of clergy sexual abuse over many decades. He must lead a process that is both legal and pastoral and create a Church that is focused on healing and reconciliation. Bishop Fisher’s job is complicated by the Covid-19 pandemic that has kept the faithful from their parishes and has exacerbated the financial challenges the diocese faces.

From its founding in October 2019, the MRT has been devoted to rebuilding the Church of Buffalo and helping the Church and the faithful recover from the devastating effects of the clergy sex abuse scandal. We are committed to being a part of the revitalization of parish life in the diocese. We seek to preserve the Church’s essential ministries in our community, ministries aimed at serving the poor and the marginalized among us. The pandemic has curtailed our public work over the past several months, but MRT members have been playing significant roles in the Diocesan Renewal Task Force which has been tasked to reimagine the organization of parishes and schools and the life of the Church.

The MRT congratulates and welcomes Bishop Fisher to Buffalo and pledges to work with him in bringing these goals to fruition. We are greatly encouraged that Bishop Fisher considers himself first and foremost a pastor. May God bless him, and the Holy Spirit guide him in his pastoral responsibilities to the Diocese of Buffalo. 

John J. Hurley, Movement to Restore Trust