BUFFALO, N.Y. (ChurchMilitant.com) - For the second year in a row, Catholic Charities of Buffalo has missed its fundraising goal.
The 2020 campaign raised $8.4 million in cash and pledges, which represents 84% of its $10 million goal, according to a Catholic Charities news release. That's less than the 2019 appeal, which raised just $9.3. million — 85% of its $11 million goal.
In 2018 the campaign struggled, as well. Two months into the Theodore McCarrick sex abuse and cover-up scandal, then-bishop Richard Malone took the opportunity to lash out at Buffalo Catholics, complaining that his vacation on Cape Cod was "clouded by the challenges we are facing right now in our diocese."
Malone went on to say:
I do not understand and cannot accept the logic behind the decision on the part of some individuals to express their dismay by holding back on their contributions to Catholic Charities — a decision that only harms those people who look to us for necessary assistance in times of serious need. My heartfelt thanks to those of you who did not succumb to such unfortunate and, I believe, flawed thinking.
The downward trend in funding — part of a broader diocesan collapse — indicates how fed up Buffalo Catholics are after years of sexual scandals, abuse cover-up and what they have bemoaned as a lack of leadership under Bp. Malone.
Malone resigned in disgrace last December shortly after his priest-secretary exposed the bishop's efforts to cover up the secretary's sexual assault at the hands of a diocesan priest. According to the secretary, Malone "used threats to force him into silence after an alleged assault" and blamed him because he didn't "lock the door." Malone was the first prelate to step down in the diocese's 172-year history.
In February, the current apostolic administrator of the diocese, Bp. Edward Scharfenberger, announced that Buffalo's scandal-ridden Christ the King Seminary would be closing.
A press release explained that "diocesan financial constraints, uncertainties surrounding future vocations and the current environment in which we operate have brought us to this point. ... Over the past 10 years, Christ the King Seminary has experienced an operating deficit, amounting to $500,000 on average annually."
Church Militant's Michael Voris put it more bluntly in a Vortex: "The underlying truth is that a betrayal of the Faith by homosexual activists hiding in the priesthood is what caused this closure."
A month after the seminary's closing was announced, the diocese declared bankruptcy.
Bishop Scharfenberger called the bankruptcy filing "a path forward to healing." But critics described it as a calculated financial move, pointing out the filing enables the diocese "to shelter not only financial assets but also many facts about abusive priests."
According to the Chapter 11 filing, Buffalo reported "between $10 million and $50 million in assets and between $50 million and $100 million in liabilities" with "the number of creditors ... estimated at between 200 and 999."
The diocese also sued to gain access to government Small Business Administration (SBA) loans, but was rejected because the SBA does not give loans to organizations that have filed for bankruptcy.
Catholic Charities president and CEO Steve Schumer put a positive spin on the Buffalo shortfall: "While it has certainly been a challenging year, we are overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and generosity of the Western New York community."