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Vatican: Albany Bishop Scharfenberger to oversee Buffalo diocese after Buffalo bishop's resignation

Vatican: Albany Bishop Scharfenberger to oversee Buffalo diocese after Buffalo bishop's resignation

Move is expected to be temporary
Vatican: Albany Bishop Scharfenberger to oversee Buffalo diocese after Buffalo bishop's resignation
Bishop Edward Scharfenberger takes part in anti-abortion protest in front of Planned Parenthood in Schenectady in March.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber

Updated 9:06 a.m. Wednesday

Bishop Edward Scharfenberger, the spiritual leader of Albany's Roman Catholic Diocese, has been tabbed to temporarily oversee the Buffalo diocese, the Vatican formally announced Wednesday morning.

Official word came down overnight from the Vatican press office of Buffalo Bishop Richard J. Malone's resignation and the appointment of Scharfenberger as apostolic administrator.

The official announcement came Vatican journalist Rocco Palmo wrote this week in his "Whispers in the Loggia" blog that his sources said Scharfenberger soon will be named apostolic administrator.

Albany's bishop would take over for Bishop Richard Malone, who Palmo said was expected to resign the Buffalo diocese position in the wake of several scandals involving priests accused of sexual abuse.

According to the New York Times, the 73-year-old Malone, installed as the 14th bishop of Buffalo in 2012, has been criticized for the way he has handled incidents involving accused priests. Local Catholics told the newspaper that Malone promised transparency, but in several cases, appeared to be shielding priests accused of abuse.

Hundreds have filed sexual abuse claims against clergy with the Buffalo diocese, or lawsuits under New York’s new Child Victims Act, which allows lawsuits in old alleged incidents to be filed in state Supreme Court. Investigations by the FBI and state Attorney General’s Office are under way.

"Set to be granted the full facilities of the diocesan bishop for the duration of the vacancy -- a significant contrast to an interim leader elected by the local Consultors -- the Albany prelate is notably a product of Brooklyn, whose Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio conducted the Bufffalo Visitation on (Pope) Francis' behalf," Palmo wrote in his Monday blog.

Asked Tuesday about the possible Scharfenberger move, Officials from the Albany diocese would not confirm any additional responsibilities planned for Scharfenberger.

"There has been no announcement from the Holy See regarding the Diocese of Buffalo," said Mary DeTurris Poust, director of communication for the Albany diocese said Tuesday. "Unless and until the Holy See makes an announcement, we cannot offer any comment.”

Read the Vatican press office's announcement: Resignations and Appointments

The Holy See is viewed as the central government of the Catholic Church.

The Buffalo diocese also did not talk Tuesday about possible new duties for Scharfenberger in the western part of the state -- home to 700,000 Catholics.

"The diocese has no comment at this time," said Kathy Spangler, Buffalo's communications director, in an email note  Tuesday.

The Buffalo diocese includes eight counties in Western New York and is home to more than 150 parishes.

Contact Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 518-395-3124 or at [email protected]

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