Dr. Dennis DePerro, president of St. Bonaventure University, told me that leaders of the Movement to Restore Trust never invited him to participate in their group’s formation, much to his chagrin. Here were long-entrenched Buffalo-area lay advisors to the bishop scrambling to figure out what to do in the opening months of the clergy sexual abuse crisis in the Diocese of Buffalo, and they deliberately avoided reaching out to this heroic Catholic layman for help on their organizing committee. In fact, at one of the MRT symposiums where these lay “leaders” took center stage to tell us how bankruptcy was a positive central strategy for diocesan healing, Dr. DePerro sat in the back of the hall with the rest of the rank-and-file laity.
Why would the MRT, led by Canisius College president, Dr. John Hurley, shamefully ignore this exceptional Catholic lay leader? Today, WKBW’s chief investigative reporter, Charlie Specht, provides us with a valuable backstory which gives us a clue. His tribute to Dr. DePerro also helps shed light on the profound difference between the two college presidents–an excoriating and long-overdue criticism of Dr. Hurley who claims to speak for all 600,000 Catholic laity in the diocese. Finally, Specht’s revealing glimpse into Dr. Hurley’s stunning lack of objectivity and clouded judgment is something which I have previously illustrated is likely rooted in so many of our lay leaders’ friendly relationships with our bishops forged over decades (26 years in Dr. Hurley’s case). These relationships were, in Dr. DePerro’s words, “disturbing,” as he told me. And that makes Charlie Specht’s tribute all the more poignant.
Rest in peace, good & faithful servant, Dr. Dennis DePerro, as Jesus Christ folds you gently into his embrace. May the eternal light shine upon you.