Bishop Richard Malone responds to calls on resignation

Bishop Malone joined Tom Bauerle on Friday afternoon

Brendan Keany
September 06, 2019 - 2:14 pm
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BUFFALO (WBEN) - With calls for his resignation intensifying in recent days, Buffalo Bishop Richard Malone agreed to come on WBEN on Friday afternoon with Tom Bauerle, and he doubled-down on his intention to remain bishop even after the Movement to Restore Trust called for his resignation.

LISTEN TO THE FULL INTERVIEW BELOW:

"I intend to continue with the ministry to which the church has called me for as long as I can do it," said Malone. "I really want to be able to be a part, with the lay folks, and my priests and deacons, as part of leading us out of this terrible storm that has had such a profound and painful impact on so many victims for decades."

Bauerle asked if there would be any circumstance in which Malone would change his mind, including a petition from diocesan priests that asks him to step down.

"Not necessarily - I would pay close attention to that; I would consult with others about that, including perhaps some of the priests who theoretically signed the letter and other priests whom I'd know would never sign the letter because they express their support every single day to me," he said. "I would probably consult with Cardinal Dolan, who is the metropolitan archbishop responsible for New York, but I wouldn't do it automatically."

However, Bauerle pressed the bishop even further, asking how it would be possible for him to lead the diocese out of this turmoil especially when there have been so many calls for his resignation such as the Movement to Restore Trust.

"I hope people see it as a deep commitment on my part to be a part of the solution and part of the renewal of the diocese," Malone began. "If I didn't know, and I can't give you numbers, but if I didn't know I had many other lay leaders and clergy leaders with me in this, then it'd be a different story, but I know that I do. Will they challenge me as MRT did? Yes, they will. Do I need to hear that challenge? Yes, I do. But, I believe we can do it.

The biggest topic of controversy over the past week was the release of Malone's comments in recordings obtained by WKBW. The bishop was asked about these recording and if he's worried about other possible comments that could have been made while being recorded.

"First of all, I don't recall, of course, all of the words I spoke in staff meetings - I think someone said he started taping those unbeknownst to us back in March, and I don't know many of our private conversations at our residence that he recorded, so I really don't know," said Malone. "I can't think right this minute of things that would be harmful in that sense, but that staff meeting happens almost every week for an hour and a half, so I don't know what else is on there."

During Wednesday's press conference, Malone controversially stated that he has the support of a majority of Catholics, and he once again stated that in Friday afternoon's interview.

"I have received, just today, probably 12 or 13 either voicemails or emails from people telling me, "Bishop, stay with it; we need you; do not resign," he said. "There's been a very strong, especially this morning, a very strong kind of counter response to the MRT decision."

The diocese issued this statement regarding the MRT decision:  

Bishop Malone was disappointed to receive the news from John Hurley that the Movement to Restore Trust (MRT) Organizing Committee has decided to cease their collaboration with the Diocese and also to call for his immediate resignation.

The MRT began their work with a faith-filled and passionate concern for the Church throughout Western New York.  While the Church has faced deep challenges, the dialogue and discussion of the Joint Implementation Team (JIT) helped the diocese make significant progress over the past several months, including holding seven Listening Sessions across Western New York. Bishop Malone was looking forward to continuing to cooperate with the MRT and regrets that the work will now have to be done without their assistance.

Nevertheless, Bishop Malone will continue to work with the established consultative bodies in the diocese such as the Diocesan Pastoral Council, Bishop's Council for the Laity, Presbyteral Council, and other priest and lay leaders to accomplish the goals of assisting the healing of victim survivors of sexual abuse, enhancing lay involvement in the Church, and strengthening the trust and faith of the people of this diocese.

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Survivor advocate Robert Hoatson renewed his call for the Bishop's resignation on Friday. However, the most notable call for the bishop to step down from his position came on Thursday afternoon when the powerful group of lay catholics in the region called for him to resign.

"We make this request of Bishop Malone with a degree of humility and sadness," The Movement to Restore Trust said in a statement. "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."

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