Buffalo Catholic Diocese Gets A New Bishop Today
The Most Reverend Michael Fisher will be installed as the 15th Bishop of Buffalo today, becoming the head of a diocese that has been hit with sexual abuse-related lawsuits, has filed for bankruptcy, and is now dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic...certainly not an easy or enviable task.
“I’ve never said no to an assignment, and I’m not going to begin,” Fisher told News 4 on Thursday.
Bishop Fisher most recently served as auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Washington. He says he understands what he will be facing in Buffalo and the mistrust Catholics have following a scandal, which previously led to the resignation and retirement of Bishop Richard Malone.
“I’ve been disappointed with the trust that has been lost,” Fisher said. “We can’t take for granted the goodwill that our people used to give our priests and our bishops. That trust has to be rebuilt. The only way we’re going to do that is by doing what we say.”
Fisher told about changes, saying he would be looking at all of the diocese’s policies and procedures, specifying personnel and financial policies.
“We are always in need of evaluating the things that we do, whether that be our policies, our procedures for protecting our children,” he said. “There’s zero tolerance for any abuse of a child or an adult.”
Fisher refers specifically to work he did in Washington to help change personnel policies there.
“I’m open to meeting with anybody that has a complaint,” Fisher said. “If it involves breaking of the law and abuse, I think we definitely need to work with the authorities.”
Between the bankruptcy filing last February, and the COVID-19 crisis, the diocese is navigating difficult financial waters.
“That’s a priority,” Fisher said of bankruptcy. “We have to get through that for the good and the benefit of the victims and survivors.”
“We need to get them what they need,” he added. “I think that was the good of the bankruptcy case, to help provide for their needs.”
Fisher said it is difficult to determine when the diocese may emerge from bankruptcy. However, he claimed he wanted to expedite the process.