Albany's 10th bishop is no stranger to the unrest facing the Buffalo Catholic Diocese. Edward Scharfenberger was installed in 2014, following the retirement of the previous bishop who faced his own accusations of sex abuse and covering up the misdeeds of priests in the Albany diocese.
He will now spend one day a week in Buffalo, overseeing the diocese here following the resignation of former bishop Richard Malone.
Scharfenberger, now 71, is a native of Brooklyn. He studied and worked in Rome, Washington D.C. and New York City before coming upstate. Soon after his installation in 2014, he faced criticism over how the former bishop, Howard Hubbard, was allowed to leave the ministry.
Scharfenberger was also forced to apologize after failing to mention in an obituary that a priest had been removed in 2011 for alleged sexual abuse of minors. But in recent years, Scharfenberger has been praised for taking a more active approach. Advocates for change in the church aren't sure what to expect.
"I think he comes to Buffalo with some unanswered questions related to the investigations of some very serious allegations against his immediate predecessor... so as nice a guy as he is and a bit more transparent than most bishops he's still using the same playbook,” said former priest and victim advocate James Faluszczak.
And while Scharfenberger's time overseeing the Buffalo Catholic Diocese is expected to last a few months, his influence could have a lasting impact.