Movement to Restore Trust Outlines Diocese Reforms

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Buffalo, N.Y. (WBEN) - The Movement to Restore Trust, a group of lay Catholics formed last year to address the Diocese of Buffalo's handling of clergy sex abuse, has released a lengthy document, titled The Initial Report of the Movement to Restore Trust.  

The 68-page report was completed by about 150 lay Catholics following a scandal that has rocked the church, in Buffalo, and around the world. 

"We view this as the beginning of a discussion with the Diocese," said panel member John Hurley.  The Canisius College President added that the panel's hopes are running high.  "This document has to be viewed as a framework for a discussion."

Hurley says the report reflects passion about the church, a sense of frustration about what has happened, and forward thinking about what might be done, from the perspective of the laity. "The laity believes it needs to step up and take a leadership role here."

The word transparency comes up over and over again in the report.  "People felt that when it comes to how decisions are reached, or with finances or how Bishops are selected, is very opaque and they want it to be open and transparent," said Hurley.

The group is also urging greater involvement by women and laity in the church.  "We had one group specifically looking at that issue.  Our report reflects some hopes and aspirations in that regard, with respect to church doctrine and canon law.  But in other areas of the report, like the Diocesan Finance Council, we have urged and the Bishop has accepted our recommendations for more women to be appointed," said Hurley.  

Other recommendations include the hiring of two more full-time investigators or four part-time investigators to speed-up the process of investigating claims of clergy abuse. The group also wants investigations completed within 45 days of the filing of a complaint.