Sept. 6, 2019
Give this much to Bishop Richard J. Malone: The problems roiling Buffalo’s Catholic diocese long predated his arrival and permeate the church, not just here, but around the world. Yet it is obvious that Malone’s management of the crisis swirling around him is insufficient to the need.
For evidence, one need look no further than the fact that two of his closest aides have seen fit to leak information to the news media. Malone’s former administrative assistant, Siobhan O’Connor, provided pages of copied documents to WKBW-TV reporter Charlie Specht last year. Those documents opened the curtains on how Malone had handled — or mishandled — allegations of sexual misconduct and inappropriate behavior against two priests.
And last month, Malone’s secretary of six years, the Rev. Ryszard Biernat, provided a secretly recorded conversation with Malone to the same station. It dealt with what Malone described as a love triangle that, in a bizarre twist, involved Biernat.
Both impugn Malone’s leadership. We believed last year that he should resign. This new episode does nothing to change our view. Nor, unfortunately, has it changed that of Malone, who repeated Wednesday that he would not step down.
As to the episode itself, it’s a mess, but one whose roots are plain. It sprouts from the church’s culture of secrecy, its complicated and inconsistent ideas about homosexuality and its celibacy requirement. The bar against women in the priesthood also likely plays a role.
Was it a love triangle? A lawyer in the case rejects the notion, but it’s easy to see how Malone reached that conclusion. In brief, a seminarian, Matthew Bojanowski, had complained to the diocese about what he said was inappropriate conduct by the Rev. Jeffrey Nowak. Bojanowski claimed sexual harassment by Nowak and a violation of the seal of confession. Nowak was, at one time, both a mentor and friend of Bojanowski, according to Malone.
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