The Watergate scandal in the early 1970s, which led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon, popularized the phrase, “the cover-up is worse than the crime,” referring to Nixon’s lying about the burglary at Democratic National Committee headquarters.

The Catholic Church sex scandals were worse. Not only did they involve dioceses from around the world, but the cover-ups enabled more crimes, leaving thousands of emotionally scarred victims.

A Buffalo News story on Wednesday reported that the Buffalo Diocese’s files show that senior officials knew back in 1983 that Becker likely had molested boys, but covered it up for at least 35 years – long after The Boston Globe blew the whistle on priest sexual abuse in 2002. Even then, the Buffalo Diocese couldn’t get right with children, parents, parishioners and its own creed.

The attorney general’s lawsuit accuses Malone and Grosz of misusing charitable assets by supporting priests they knew had likely sexually abused minors, and accuses the diocese of protecting more than two dozen accused priests by not referring their cases to the Vatican for removal from the priesthood.

Had the bishops forwarded the sexual abuse cases to the Vatican, they would have been following official church policy, but not fulfilling the obligations of justice. Having sexual relations with children is rape, which should be reported to the police.