ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Since the clock struck midnight on August 14, more than 100 claims have been filed against the Buffalo Diocese in connection with the New York Child Victims Act.
With so many claims being filed at once, 2 On Your Side wanted to know if the current financial situation of the diocese could withstand these lawsuits.
We wanted to speak with Bishop Richard Malone about it, but he has refused to take questions.
2 On Your Side spoke with Father Paul Seil of St. Bernadette Church in Orchard Park on Wednesday.
"I really don't have a great grasp on what the overall picture for the diocese is, because that's kind of kept kind of close to the vest of those people who run the diocese," Seil said.
Did he think that this could ultimately bankrupt the diocese?
"I think it could bankrupt the diocese, but it's almost like it has to. We've got to wipe everything clean. We've got to almost start over," Seil said.
Father Seil's fairly large suburban parish has been greatly impacted by the priest sex abuse scandal.
"Seeing the drop in attendance, our collections are down about 11 percent for this year, this fiscal year, which ends at the end of this month of August," he said. "So those are things that we are trying to deal with. It's had severe impact on our ability to continue to do the ministry we believe we were called to do."
Without that income, Father Seil had to cut a childhood program. He has plans to replace a retiring full-time staff member with a part-time one and has not yet paid assessments owed to the diocese.
"They are very reluctant to give, mostly because the situation in the diocese now makes people think, 'Well, why should I give any money they might go bankrupt? Why should I give any money it might just go to pay off abuse claims?" Seil said.