November 29, 2020
In 2019, a member of a Catholic parish’s pastoral council in Elma told The News that Bishop Richard J. Malone had “taken the blame here and the bullet for years of abuse, years of cover-up.” The state Attorney General’s Office’s investigative report on the Buffalo Diocese released this week suggests that Malone was not an innocent party, but an active participant in the diocese’s repeated instances of turning a blind eye to accusations of sexual misconduct against priests.
The long, devastating history of clergy sexual abuse of children in the diocese of some 600,000 Catholics stretches back decades, long before Malone was installed as bishop here. But as one of the case studies demonstrates in the court filing from Attorney General Letitia James, Malone was one of seven Buffalo bishops who covered up for Rev. Donald W. Becker, who was accused of molesting boys. The attorney general filed a civil suit this week against the diocese, Malone and former Auxiliary Bishop Edward M. Grosz.
Malone resisted calls to resign for more than a year before quitting in December 2019. (Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger took over as apostolic administrator.) The tipping point was the release of private audio recordings in which Malone discussed keeping quiet about an alleged sexual harassment by a priest of an adult seminarian and on another priest’s love letter to the seminarian.
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