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Bishop Richard Malone: "Sexual abuse in the church is global"

Malone joins Bauerle & Bellavia LIVE

November 14, 2018 - 7:01 pm

BUFFALO (WBEN) - Bishop Richard Malone spoke with Bauerle & Bellavia on Wednesday afternoon, just after the conclusion of the fall assembly of the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops in Baltimore.

This week, the Vatican blocked US bishops from voting on a new code of conduct that would allow a commission of experts to review complaints against other bishops. Under church law, only the Pope can investigate and discipline bishops (Pope would still have final say under new provision). 

Malone discussed the provision, and why he felt "dismayed" that the Vatican blocked the vote.

"This whole meeting this week was really meant to focus on accountability for bishops," said Malone.

He referenced the recent scandal with now ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, who had abused a minor when he was a priest in New York, as well as seminarians and other priests, but still kept getting promoted. 

"That kind of triggered this whole look at how do we have standards of accountability for bishops," he said. "...Nonetheless, we had, all week long, very very robust discussions and couldn't do the votes," said Malone. "But we made a lot of progress...we were all dismayed by it, at least everybody I knew."

As Malone and the entire Buffalo Diocese have been under fire in recent months, Malone admitted the problems of clergy abuse extends well beyond the city limits. It has become an international pandemic. He suggested that perhaps the reasoning behind the Vatican blocking any vote this week is because there intends to be a more uniform protocol announced at a global conference in February.

"The problem, sadly, of sexual abuse in the church is global," said Malone. "We think of it in terms of Buffalo and the United States but it's global. We know it involves Germany, Chile, Ireland, Australia and other places....I have a feeling the Vatican didn't want us to take our own American votes on these action steps because they want to look at this in February as a global challenge and maybe come up with something that's a universal protocol that all the bishops in the world would follow."

Malone says that, although they were stopped short of voting on those items, essentially the entire time focused on how to create a more transparent culture within the church.

"Almost all the rest of the time was exactly the kind of conversation and debate we wanted to have to confront this need," said Malone. "The Charter for the Protection of Young People, that holds priests and deacons accountable, has never held bishops accountable, and we know we need to be held accountable as well. The whole day long was very focused, very challenging interventions about how we have to have these things. We have to have third party reporting."

Another topic discussed at this week's conference was an attempt to be more effective in dealing with claims made by adults, something Malone says in sorely lacking.

"We had a lot of conversation [Tuesday] about how we need to have more effective ways of responding to allegations of clerical misconduct with adults," said Malone. "Once again, we have that when it comes to children, we've had it since 2002, but we have not had a protocol...obviously we have a code of conduct which tells us what people should not do, but not really a detailed protocol as we have with priests or deacons who abuse children. We have not had that with adults, so we kind of tried to find our way on that, but there's been a strong commitment that that's going to be one of our projects too...as we move forward."

He did, however, note that the Dallas Charter may be working, at least relatively speaking. Malone noted that there have been far fewer claims since the charter took place.

"I do know that no priest ordained in the last 20 years has been accused of abuse of any kind," said Malone. "In the past 20 years, there have been only three allegations of abuse that happened during this time period. There is progress being made because of the Dallas Charter and those kinds of things, but we have to continue to be very vigilant on all of this."

Listen to full audio from the interview below:

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