BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Edward Scharfenberger, who on Wednesday took on operational control of the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo following Richard Malone’s resignation as bishop, came to Western New York with the simple message: “I have no white papers, no hidden agenda.”
Scharfenberger, who continues to serve as Bishop of the Diocese of Albany, has taken over as Apostolic Administrator of the Buffalo Diocese. He is in that role until Pope Francis appoints a successor.
Malone resigned following controversy over the handling of multiple sex abuse allegations related to the Diocese, which faces about 200 lawsuits claiming it was negligent in handling claims of sexual misconduct by priests.
MORE | Bishop Malone steps down
“I feel like the neighbor down the block,” Scharfenberger said during a conference introducing him on Wednesday morning.
Scharfenberger noted that he is aware of the struggle people in Buffalo have dealt with amid the sex abuse scandal.
“I realize this family has been suffering for a number of years,” he said.
Moving forward, Scharfenberger promised that victims of sexual abuse would be treated with respect, also noting that he will work closely with the Movement to Restore Trust.
“I will meet with any and all survivors,” he said.
During the conference, Scharfenberger addressed the possibility of the Buffalo Diocese going bankrupt, saying he will examine options.
It’s not clear if Malone, who is now being referred to as Bishop Emeritus, will have any role in the Diocese, Scharfenberger says. It is something the new leader says he will have to decide, calling Malone’s choice to leave “a prudent decision.”
Although Malone is gone, Buffalo’s new spiritual leader noted that Auxillary Bishop Edward Grosz wishes to continue serving the Diocese of Buffalo.
The process to select a new bishop often takes six to eight months, according to a diocese spokesperson.
Scharfenberger says he’ll play a role in the selection, which involves other bishops across New York voting on a list that is eventually sent to the Pope.