The Vatican has announced the resignation of Bishop Richard Malone from his Buffalo diocese. He will be replaced on a temporary basis by Albany’s Bishop Edward Scharfenberger.
Malone had been bishop since 2012 but had faced growing criticism for his failure to take action on alleged sexual abuse claims. The diocese of Buffalo is currently facing an FBI probe and more than 200 lawsuits.
In his resignation statement, Malone said: “I have concluded after much prayer and discernment that the spiritual welfare of the people of the Diocese of Buffalo will be better served by a new bishop who perhaps is better able to bring about the reconciliation, healing and renewal that is so needed.”
Although Malone pledged to institute reforms, he had faced calls to step down for over a year. A petition calling for Malone’s departure had gathered more than 12,000 signatures, accusing him of deceit and of being a “silent accomplice” to the crimes of priests.
The scandal opened in 2018, when an accuser came forward, describing molestation as a teenager at the hands of a priest. More abuse complaints followed and in March 2018, Bishop Malone released a list of 42 priests who had been accused of abuse. However, his administrative assistant, Siobhan O’Connor, appeared on 60 Minutes and claimed the original list had more than 100 names. She accused Malone of wiping some of the names and said one of the wiped names was a priest accused of inappropriately touching two boys. Malone later endorsed that priest for a job as a cruise ship chaplain.
A seminarian, Matthew Bojanowski, also publicly accused Malone of failing to take action against a parish priest. He said Malone had “lied to the people”.
In September 2019, a Buffalo television station broadcast secretly recorded audio in which the bishop worried what would happen if some of the allegations became public. He was recorded saying: “This could be the end for me as a bishop.”