Below is the member roster and location map from the month this vote was taken. In this listing, you see five vacancies of lay representatives which the Vicars have not bothered to fill so laity can have their just quota represented at these meetings with the bishop. That’s five people who could have had a voice for their vicariates during this horrific sexual abuse crisis and five people who could have voted that day. And we ask: Was the moral conscience of lay representatives listed not pricked in the months before September to INSIST the diocesan officials at their meetings contact those vicars to provide a full slate of lay representatives at the next meeting? Do these lay representatives listed not care whether laity in this diocese are fairly and appropriately represented with at least their full slate of representatives? We know the clergy/bishop aren’t. You would think the layman who is a diocesan official at these meetings would push for just representation for diocesan laity. As I reported earlier, one vicariate sent one solitary representative for EIGHT years without anyone saying a word, apparently. The irresponsibility in crisis response is heartbreaking and irresponsible on so many levels.
The 24-4 vote of confidence on Bishop Richard Malone’s leadership by a diocesan lay group is troubling on its surface. Never mind the fact that 5 people were absent from voting and another five were not yet appointed to fill vacancies.
In Steve Brown’s WGRZ interview with the bishop which aired today [screenshot above], Malone gushes over the confidence of the people with whom he states he closely collaborates. Are we surprised at the vote? In my previous article about the Diocesan Pastoral Council, I highlighted one representative who had no knowledge of the Movement to Restore Trust. This person said he has served for 10 years in this group.
By definition, this is a highly skewed group, the DPC. So let’s point out the obvious as we evaluate its makeup :
- Hand-picked by priests (Vicar Forane submits candidates for the bishop to approve), not laity, which leads to to the obvious question: are council members inclined to mirror the nominating priest’s vision for the diocese?
- Questionable competence in processing and evaluating material presented to them for deliberation. One of their responsibilities includes “proposing action in response to the needs expressed by the people of the Diocese.” If we weren’t in such dire straights, that would be amusing.
- Groomed and indoctrinated in diocesan spin four times a year with the bishop, where is their critical thinking on matters pertaining to this most egregious and abominable crisis in the history of the diocese? We don’t know. We have to trust the appointing priests’ judgment of their competence and objectivity in that comfortable, amicable arena.
- It’s not likely priests are going to choose independent thinkers who are inclined to challenge a Catholic Bishop in their midst. That is self-evident by their congenial meetings.
- They aren’t there to ask hard, probing questions or turn tables about the FACTS presented outside the chancery which prove their bishop reinstated a known sexual predator like Art Smith, for example, thereby exposing the laity to harm. Two more victims allegedly emerged from Smith’s “ministry” under Malone. Is that not remotely troubling?
- Malone characterized their last meeting as amicable. How can that possibly be if every one of those people knew details of the many deplorable decisions he has made including keeping Grosz on board–a key player for decades in the sexual abuse calamity as he treated victims with callous disregard while protecting their alleged perpetrators.
This is not to say these folks serving on the DPC aren’t totally respectable, intelligent and good Catholics. They likely are, but because we laity didn’t get a chance to vet them and choose them from a list of qualified candidates, we pause to wonder what we’re getting for the alleged representation of our interests. If the poll the Buffalo News took is even 20% off, as Brown suggested, this “representative” group of laity does not seem to represent the folks in at least the vicariates of Niagara and Erie Counties who were polled.
My representatives in this vote not only voted for me but for my husband, my mom, my brother and sister-in-law. The vote cast also had an impact on my daughter and son-in-law and my two grandchildren who live in another Vicariate. After the vote, I emailed my Vicar Forane a photo of those two little kids dressed for Easter Mass. I take this personally.
Vicars Forane (updated as of October, 2019)
- Northwest-Central Buffalo: Rev. Joseph S. Rogliano
- Southeast Buffalo: Rev. Bryan Zielenieski
- Allegany: Rev. James Hartwell
- Southern Cattaraugus: Rev. James Vacco, OFM
- Chautauqua: Rev. Darrell G. Duffy
- Eastern Erie: Rev. Eugene P. Ulrich
- Northern Erie: Rev. Msgr. Robert E. Zapfel, S.T.D., MBA
- Western Niagara: Rev. Robert S. Hughson
- Eastern Niagara-Orleans: Rev. Richard A. Csizmar
- Genesee-Wyoming: Rev. Daniel Serbicki
- Tri-County: Rev. Mitch Byeck, OMI
- Southern Erie: Rev. James Ciupek