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Catholic priest says there's a stigma against clergy

A local Catholic priest says with the current scandal facing the Buffalo Diocese, there's a stigma against priests.

As the scandal impacting the Buffalo Diocese continues to develop, 2 On Your Side is hearing from a local priest in good standing, about the stigma he and others in his position are facing. 

"There's a stigma and you can understand the fear the public has," said Father Michael LaMarca of St. John Paul II Parish Community in Lakeview. He says because of the current sex abuse scandal in the Buffalo Diocese, many priests in good standing have been labeled in their communities as either being abusers or simply just part of the problem.

"There's a real fear amongst some in the presbyterate, amongst the brother priests that physical harm could be done to them because of these horrific things done in the past by other priests there are some priests who say that they don't wear their collar anymore," LaMarca said. "Personally, there has been hesitation on my part when I'm out visiting the sick saying I have to stop at the grocery store but I'm wearing my collar do I want to do that?"

"I've had countless people in my office who are hurting who are upset who are angry at how the church has mishandled it and the priests are just as upset but we also know we have to move forward in healing," he said.

In hopes of healing, the Diocese has invited priests in good standing and those in retirement to attend what's called a "Study Day" -- a time for priests to raise issues related to the scandal to church higher ups.

It'll be held next month at Christ the King Seminary in East Aurora. 

"I think from the study day that's being held in February, I think it will be an opportunity for any clouds that exist in the communication between the Catholic Center, the chancery and the priests can be lifted," LaMarca said.

The Diocese also says that a Year of Healing will begin this Lent throughout the diocese.

Priest Study Days have happened in the past.

The Study Day will happen on February 12 at Christ the King Seminary in East Aurora. 

The Diocese says that the format for the Study Day hasn't been finalized but there will likely be presentations and Q and A.

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