Group wants Bishop Malone to step down from Catholic Charities’ board of directors


The Coalition for Economic Justice held a rally outside of Catholic Charities’ Delaware Avenue offices Tuesday morning.

The organization, which includes local religious leaders, was protesting the agency’s decision to end foster and adoption services; the decision to end the services was made in August after a married same-sex couple tried to adopt a child.

“The decision to no longer provide foster care and adoption services was driven by the Catholic Church’s teaching on what constitutes a marriage,” explained CEO of Catholic Charities, Dennis Walczyk. 

Protesters also called for Bishop Richard Malone to resign as head of Buffalo’s Catholic Church, and to step down as chairman of the board of trustees for Catholic Charities. 

Bishop Malone has said in the past he will not resign. 

The Coalition for Economic Justice feels Catholic Charities should not longer accept public money following its decision on foster and adoption services. 

“If you want to serve the public and use public dollars, 18 million of our public dollars, you can’t discriminate,” said Rev. Kirk Laubenstein with CEJ.

Public money makes up a large portion of Catholic Charities’ $40 million annual funding. 

“If we were to lose government funding, which is a significant part of our operating revenue, it would have a devastating affect on this community,” said Walczyk, who told News 4 the organization was put in a tough spot in August. 

“Queer folks can love each other and they can be in same sex couples and that’s the law of the land. And if Catholic Charities wants to discriminate, they can use their catholic appeal money,” Laubenstein said. 

Walczyk said the foster and adoption program made up a small portion of the services offered by Catholic Charities, which serves all of western New York. 

“We felt that the only decision we could make, is if we couldn’t serve everyone we will serve no-one,” he said. 

Walczyk said Bshope Malone’s place as chairman of the board of trustees is not up for negotiation. 

Catholic Charities responded to the rally with this statement:

“Catholic Charities of Buffalo acknowledges that there is anger and disappointment associated with the Aug. 23 decision to phase out adoption and foster care services at Catholic Charities. We also recognize the rights of individuals and groups to express their feelings and beliefs in a peaceable manner.
Catholic Charities has worked closely with the New York State Office of Children and Family Services, the Erie County Department of Social Services, the foster care families and foster care agencies to implement a seamless transition for the adoption and foster care program. The transition of adoption and foster care children and families is expected to be completed by mid-November.
The families providing foster care were given their choice of agency, and already have chosen their new agency home. In fact, many of the families were able to transition to their agency of choice with their current caseworker, since our caseworkers have made the same choice of agency.
Of the nine program staff members affected by the change, six employees have elected to go to the same agency with the foster families, two have taken other positions within Catholic Charities, and one has decided on a career path change.
Since the August announcement, Catholic Charities’ leaders have met and communicated with many key stakeholders. Our goal is to reassure our partners that the agency continues to provide the same high quality service it has always provided people in need across Western New York, and is equally committed to non-discrimination of clients in the provision of services and of our employees and volunteers – regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, race, color, religion (creed), age, national origin, disability, marital status, or military status.”

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