The Rev. Edward B. Scharfenberger, a 65-year-old monsignor and lawyer who played a significant role in how the Brooklyn diocese handled child sex abuse complaints, is Pope Francis' choice to succeed Bishop Howard Hubbard as the leader of the Albany Roman Catholic Diocese.
Scharfenberger will be introduced at an 11 a.m. news conference at the diocese's Pastoral Center in Albany.
will be the tenth bishop of the Albany diocese. At 65, Scharfenberger
will only serve a fraction of Hubbard's 37-year tenure.
leaving after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 75.
grateful I am to His Holiness Pope Francis for the awesome privilege to
serve as pastor of all the wonderful people in the Diocese of Albany. I
am touched by the warm welcome of Bishop Hubbard who has served the Church in Albany with love and dedication for 37 years," Scharfenberger said in a statement released at 6 a.m. by the Albany diocese.
heart is full of gratitude to God for my loving family, especially my
ninety-three years old parents who were generous enough to welcome me,
my two brothers and two sisters into this world. They taught us how to
pray, to trust God and to know Jesus as our friend. Their continuous
example shows us that the essence of love is sacrifice."
The new bishop, who graduated summa cum laude from the Pontifical Gregorian University
in 1972, is also a lawyer. He went to Fordham Law School, passing the
state bar in 1991. He is multilingual and has been in the forefront of
the church's dealings with sex abuse scandals.
He served as Promoter of Justice for the Diocese of Brooklyn and was a member of the Diocesan Review Board for Sexual Abuse of Minors
and co-author of the 2009 report, "From Shadow to Light and from Scandal
to Healing: The Experience of the Diocese of Brooklyn with the Sex
The board that crafted the report was established
in 2002 after the clergy sexual abuse scandal in Boston. It has
examined more than two dozen cases in Brooklyn and Queens.
That board and Scharfenberger have their critics.
David Clohessy, head of the St. Louis chapter of the Survivors Network
of Those Abused by Priest criticized the choice on Tuesday, calling
Scharfenberger one of the most secretive in dealing with
"For a decade, Scharfenberger has been heavily
involved in pedophile priest cases yet we've seen not a single hopeful
move in the Brooklyn diocese regarding this scandal," Clohessy said.
"That diocese, like many, does only the absolute bare minimum in clergy
sex abuse and cover up cases, and only then because it's required to do
so by the U.S. church's vague, weak and rarely enforced abuse policy."
A group of local Catholics launched www.albanybishopsearch.org to ask participants their thoughts on the major needs of the diocese and what they wanted to see in a new bishop.
Bill Halligan, a member of the group and a parishioner at St. Vincent DePaul in Albany, he was pleased with the pope's pick.
"We never thought the group would be consulted," Halligan said. "We
just wanted to express our thoughts and urge people to express theirs to
the Apostolic Delegate in Washington."
Halligan said he was impressed with the depth of Scharfenberger's educational and spiritual background.
"I look forward to having a person who will lead the Albany Diocese in a
progressive and open way so we can all draw closer to God,"
Scharfenberger was born in Brooklyn's Bushwick
section on May 29, 1948. He is the son of Edward and Elaine
Scharfenberger of Warwick.
Since 2002 he has served as Pastor of St. Matthias Church
in Ridgewood, a multi-ethnic parish with a large German congregation.
The church offers service and hears confessions in German. His most
recent assignments also included Vicar for Strategic Planning, and
Episcopal Vicar for Queens.
"It is humbling when I think that I
soon will be counted among the successors of the Lord's Apostles. I am
not worthy of this office and I hope that our priests, deacons,
religious and lay people will pray for me often as, together, we
continue along our journey of faith," Scharfenberger said.
else do I ask for? What do I hope for? I ask the priests, deacons,
religious and laity to help me to be myself – my best self. I promise to
love and respect all of you by letting you be who you are and to bring
out the best in you. Let's do this for one another. I will spend every
talent that God has given to me, and every ounce of energy, for the
Church in Albany."
"I commend myself and my ministry to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, patroness of our Diocese."
Scharfenberger was ordained a priest on July 2, 1973 in St. Peter's Basilica, Rome, by Bishop James A. Hickey, later Cardinal-Archbishop of Washington D.C.
Hubbard welcomed the announcement.
Scharfenberger has a rich background as both a canon and civil lawyer,
as the head of the Judicial Tribunal in Brooklyn, and as pastor for 12
years in St. Matthias in Ridgewood, a multi-ethnic parish, where he has
gained fluency in a multitude of languages, which I am sure will serve
him well in our Diocese and will be most appreciated by our growing
Hispanic speaking community," Hubbard said.
"So we are most
grateful that our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has graced us with such a
gifted shepherd and we pledge him our prayers, loyalty, support