The Vatican has announced that Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn, New York, will lead an apostolic visitation of the Diocese of Buffalo.
The visitation, a canonical inspection and fact-finding mission, was ordered by Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, the Vatican department responsible for overseeing the personal conduct of bishops.
A notice issued by the apostolic nunciature in Washington confirmed Thursday that the visitation was “non-judicial and non-administrative,” meaning that no formal charges are currently being considered against the scandal-plagued Bishop Richard Malone of Buffalo.
The nunciature did confirm that the visitation had been ordered under the provisions of Vos Estis Lux Mundi (You Are the Light of the World), the policy document on sexual abuse and diocesan administration issued May 7 by Pope Francis, which came into effect June 1.
Bishop DiMarzio will be assisted by Father Steven Aguggia, the judicial vicar of the Brooklyn Diocese, who will act as secretary of the visitation. The nunciature did not confirm when the visitation would formally begin, or how long it would continue before transmitting its findings to the Congregation for Bishops in Rome.
“This is a difficult period in the life of the Church in Buffalo,” Bishop DiMarzio said in a statement released on Oct. 3. “I pledge I will keep an open mind throughout the process and do my best to learn the facts and gain a thorough understanding of the situation in order to fulfill the mandate of this apostolic visitation.”
In a statement released Thursday afternoon, the Diocese of Buffalo said that Bishop Malone welcomes the apostolic visitation.
“Bishop Malone has committed to cooperate fully and stated that this Visitation is for the good of the Church in Buffalo. The purpose of an apostolic visitation is to assist the diocese and improve the local Church’s ability to minister to the people it serves,” the statement said.
“The mission of the Church in Buffalo continues to be to seek justice and compassion for the victim-survivors of sexual abuse and their families and to continue the good works of the Church, fulfilled on a daily basis, by faithful men and women who serve a wide spectrum of our diocese.”
The diocese added its “heartfelt gratitude” to Bishop DiMarzio, and “to the Catholic community of Buffalo, including the lay faithful and the clergy.”
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