St. Bonaventure University's president, Dr. Dennis DePerro, was an exceptional, heroic Catholic lay leader. So why was he ignored by the very lay organization designed to help heal and restore trust in the wake of the diocesan sexual abuse scandal? On the day of Dr. DePerro's untimely death, WKBW reporter Charlie Specht revealed a disturbing backstory which gives us a clue as to why he was deliberately shunned by entrenched Buffalo-area lay leaders (most of them hand-chosen by our bishops).
Speaking truth to power “will likely come at a cost to me personally,” Deacon Paul Snyder wrote to his bishop in 2018. “However, my first loyalty is to my Catholic faith and my Community,” [not the bishop]. These frank words are an important reminder today that merely changing out a single leadership position won’t eradicate the corrupt culture that allowed the clergy sexual abuse crisis to flourish in the Diocese of Buffalo. We need leaders willing to make decisions “at great cost to them personally,” putting their Catholic faith and their Community ahead of their career.
The “Diocese” didn’t betray us. People did. Until we recognize--by name and face--the true agents of betrayal, we won't be able to begin to restore trust in this diocese. Thanks to whistleblowers, we know names, faces and their horrendous professional misconduct that exacerbated the clergy sexual abuse crisis.
(AUDIO read by author) This final post details concrete reform recommendations for laity to regain relevancy in their advisory roles in this diocese. Long-time Buffalo-area advisors working for their FIFTH or SIXTH bishop are not appropriate for this task, as demonstrated throughout this series. Included is a practical action guide for laity to get involved in the battle for the soul of our diocese.
(AUDIO read by author) Sexually abusive clergy and their abuse-facilitators in chancery offices operate off principles. Throughout this series, we saw their chief principle in action: Keeping a lid on the exchange of information and squashing dissent at every opportunity. We laity have principles we work off of too. In this post we look at ten guiding principles foundational to any diocesan reform recommendations.
(AUDIO read by author) We explore indications that the Diocese of Buffalo, over the course of many years, groomed a tight-knit circle of lay advisors in a system that effectively compromised their objectivity. Lose that, and you can easily get duped.
(AUDIO read by author) To combat the clergy sexual abuse crisis, it is not enough to address the abusers. We have to change the look-the-other-way culture that allowed the abusers to flourish. We examine more dark corners of the diocese to watch how this enabling culture plays out and what laity can do to root it out.
(AUDIO read by author) If we do not have faith in the integrity of people within the system, how can we have faith in the system itself and what it produces? Transformation of diocesan culture begins with a personal gut-check of every individual who agrees to the enormous responsibility he or she assumes on behalf of innocent souls. Holding diocesan officials accountable is not optional. It is a responsibility we have to the innocent and most vulnerable.
(AUDIO read by author) This six-part series walks you through dark corners of the Diocese of Buffalo in which we explored areas of moral depravity laced with chilling aloofness and missed opportunities as we examine the the intersection of laity with the clergy sexual abuse crisis. To fix this system, we have to fix the culture that created the crisis. Laity can play a significant role in doing that.
(AUDIO read by author) This 6-part series explores the dark corners of this diocese in how it handles the clergy sexual abuse crisis. There really is much we laity can do to help create lasting reform. It starts with conversion. We may not be able to fix the clergy in the hierarchy, but we laity can certainly change the way laity operate, particularly the way laity represent us and our needs in this diocese.