Bishop Malone to resign?

Bishop Richard Malone of the Diocese of Buffalo (center) leaves a Movement to Restore Trust listening session June 27 at Archbishop Walsh Academy in Olean.

Buffalo Diocese Bishop Richard Malone is reportedly stepping down on Wednesday.

Several Western New York media outlets cite a report by Catholic journalist Rocco Palmo, who writes on the blog Whispers in the Loggia.

Palmo reports that Bishop Edward Scharfenberger of Albany is set to be appointed as an interim administrator until a permanent replacement is found.

The Catholic Diocese of Buffalo had not responded to media inquiries about a resignation, but several outlets have reported Kathy Spangler, director of communications, had not denied the report and declined comment.

In October, a bishop tasked by the Holy See to examine Malone’s conduct amid allegations of sexual abuse in the diocese finished his work.

As part of his review, Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio made three fact-finding trips to Western New York. Associated Press reported that he spent a total of seven days meeting with and interviewing about 80 people in and outside the clergy and was expected to submit a full report to the Vatican.

At the time, Malone said he welcomed the process, called an apostolic visitation.

Malone had maintained that he will remain a bishop until March 19, 2021, when he turns 75, the age at which he is required by canon law to submit his resignation to the pope.

The diocese is the subject of dozens of lawsuits by people who claim to have been sexually abused by priests as children. A state law adopted earlier this year suspends the usual statute of limitations and opened a one-year period during which victims can file suits regardless of when the abuse occurred.

Attorneys Steve Boyd and Jeff Anderson, who have been at the forefront of pursuing legal action in the Buffalo and many other diocese over alleged abuse, issued a statement Monday evening saying that Malone’s resignation “would be a step in the right direction.”

But they added the resignation of one man “falls short of full accountability so long as the past system of denial and secrecy continues. The Diocese of Buffalo needs to move forward in a manner that is consistent with its own stated values and with the rule of law.”

Although most of the abuse occurred long before Malone’s arrival in Buffalo, he has acknowledged mishandling claims involving adult victims.

Over the past year, two key members of Malone’s staff have gone public with concerns about his leadership.

Jim Eckstrom is executive editor of the Olean Times Herald and Bradford Publishing Co. His email is jeckstrom@oleantimesherald.com.)

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