Parishioners, politicians, lawyers call for Bishop Malone’s resignation

By Alan Rizzo And Taylor Nigrelli
West Seneca Bee
September 11, 2019

Buffalo Bishop Richard Malone speaks about the abuse crisis in the Catholic church during a press conference held at Infant of Prague Parish in Cheektowaga on Nov. 5, 2018.
Photo by Jim Smerecak

Lawyers, local politicians and Catholic parishioners from around the region are calling for the resignation of Bishop Richard Malone, in the wake of an increasing number of Child Victims Act lawsuits against priests from the Diocese of Buffalo, as well as his handling of the growing scandal.

On Sept. 4, attorneys Jeff Anderson and Steve Boyd, both of whom are representing child sexual abuse survivors in Child Victims Act lawsuits filed against the diocese, called for Bishop Malone’s resignation after news that he had discussed his possible resignation with diocesan officials in the wake of a scandal regarding Christ the King Seminary and claims of sexual harassment by the Rev. Jeffrey Nowak, a diocesan priest.

Anderson and Boyd criticized Bishop Malone for continuing to “deflect, deny and disparage” accusations of clergy sexual misconduct.

“Truth is simple,” Anderson said. “Deception, denial and prevarication are complex. Bishop Malone is a master at it.”

According to the attorneys, during a recent press conference on the scandal Bishop Malone was less concerned with the damaging content of the recordings referencing Rev. Nowak’s behavior and more concerned that a diocesan official had recorded conversations about the scandal — including the resignation discussion and one in which he had called Rev. Nowak a “sick puppy.”

Boyd called on Bishop Malone, who also reportedly barred a local reporter covering sexual abuse allegations against the diocese from attending the press conference, to step aside to make way for a more modern and forthcoming future bishop.

“Buffalo is a Catholic town,” Boyd said. “The faithful people of this area deserve modern leadership, transparency, and an end to this scandal.”

Members of the faithful, specifically the independent organization of local Catholics known as the Movement to Restore Trust, spoke out Thursday with their own call for the bishop to step down. MRT’s organizing committee contacted Bishop Malone directly and asked that he resign immediately, a move that came after nine months of work hosting symposia and coordinating the production of a 68-page report detailing a blueprint for reforming the diocese.

“We make this request of Bishop Malone with a degree of humility and sadness,” they said. “We had embarked upon our work with the hope that we could be a catalyst for reform and the restoration of trust of the faithful in the diocese. While we have made some progress toward that goal by working with Bishop Malone and the Joint Implementation Team, recent events and disclosures have led us to conclude that the diocese is at a critical point and that further progress is not possible. We believe that continuing to press forward under these circumstances jeopardizes MRT’s comprehensive reform agenda and compromises our ability to be agents for positive change.”

MRT called on the Vatican to appoint a temporary diocesan administrator, a priest with no ties to the Diocese of Buffalo, while considering the appointment of a permanent bishop. The committee said they also planned to make their views known to Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York, and to Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States. Additionally, they indicated that MRT is pulling back from all commitments with the diocese until the bishop resigns, including participation in the diocesan listening session scheduled for today.

“Our goal remains justice and healing for the victims of sex abuse and the restoration of trust in Christ’s church,” the committee said. “In order for our church to move forward, and for the good of the diocese, the time has come for new leadership — leadership committed to openness, transparency, and co-responsibility with the laity.”

Other attorneys representing child sexual abuse survivors have also spoken out, including Massachusetts based attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who represents more than 40 survivors in the area including Niagara County resident Gail Holler-Kennedy.

Holler-Kennedy has alleged that she was sexually abused by the late Rev. Mark Andrzejczuk at Cardinal O’Hara High School between 1978 and 1981.

“The continued moral chaos, cover up and lack of human decency within the Diocese of Buffalo calls for Bishop Malone to resign,” Garabedian said in a statement issued Sept. 5.

Town of Tonawanda-based attorney Kevin Stocker, who represents approximately 15 child sexual abuse survivors from the Ken-Ton area, went beyond the diocese, questioning the morals of the entire leadership of the Catholic Church.

“I don’t see anybody in a position of leadership, from the pope, the bishop … who have ever stepped forward to say this is what’s going on, this is what needs to stop,” he said. “I think they all should resign within the sense of the problem worldwide, especially in the United States. As we’re going through discovery, we’re finding out that a lot of people feel that Buffalo was the dumping ground for these problem priests.”

Additionally, local politicians have also called for Bishop Malone to resign. Assemblyman Patrick Burke originally did so just over a year ago, and renewed that call recently in a statement.

“Over a year ago, people in the political world said I was crazy for calling on Bishop Malone to resign,” Burke said. “They said that following my conscience would destroy my career, but every new piece of information coming from the work of Channel 7’s Charlie Specht proves that my decision was correct. The bishop must resign or be removed by the Vatican.”

Congressman Brian Higgins also reiterated that he does not have faith in Bishop Malone to properly execute the duties of his job.

“Faithful people in the Buffalo Diocese, compelled by their own moral compass, have come forward with the truth,” Higgins said. “Western New York Catholics deserve to have faith in their leadership and trust that the church today is committed to the protection of the public over self-protection. These recordings are further definitive evidence that Bishop Malone is clearly not the right person to lead this diocese forward.”

Erie County Legislator Joe Lorigo emailed Bishop Malone, urging him to resign.

“The time has come for you to tender your resignation,” Lorigo wrote. “You have lost the respect, trust and faith of local Catholics. As a Catholic myself, I believe our local diocese deserves better than the ‘leadership’ you have provided recently.”



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