Tim Wenger

An Optimistic Bishop Richard Malone Joins Bauerle & Bellavia

"I have all kinds of reasons to be hopeful right now with things we're doing."

April 02, 2019 - 4:35 pm

BUFFALO (WBEN - Brendan Keany) - Bishop Richard Malone once again joined Bauerle & Bellavia on Tuesday afternoon to further discuss the scandal within the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, as well as the steps being taken to heal.

Of course, 2018 was a year filled controversy for the diocese, as numerous people came forward and accused priests of past sexual abuse. Malone has been under a microscope for his handling of the situation, and in many people's eyes, Malone has created more of a problem than a solution.

Bauerle directly asked Malone why he continues to resist the calls for his resignation.

"Having been sent here by Pope Benedict XVI as bishop, and I said yes to that, and I need to say yes to that in good times and in bad," said Malone. "I feel it's my obligation, with God's help and the good people around me, to be a part of leading the diocese into a new day."

Bauerle then followed up by asking whether the diocese may be better off with new leadership.

"That's something I certainly have thought about, but I think that there could also be a period of disruption," Malone replied. "It takes a while when one bishop leaves, whether he dies, retires or resigns, before a new bishop is appointed. It can take months, and months and months before the Holy See will provide a new bishop, so I don't think that we need that kind of a gap right now."

Tim Wenger

Later on in the conversation, Bellavia asked Malone how he deals with the calls for his resignation, and beyond that, how he deals with knowing that there are many people who don't like him on a personal level.

"Well, my close friends from many, many years ago, some of them even from childhood, sometimes ask me, 'How do you do this, why don't you just run away,'" began Malone. "It is tough. I'm getting toward the end of my ministry as bishop - I probably have two and a half to three more years to go, and I never expected that, after what has been, and I'm not saying this proudly, but effective ministry, to have all of this coming right toward the end of it...somehow, the good people around me and God's grace, and believe it or not, and you won't hear this too much from some of our media friends, lots and lots of support."

The conversation also led into specific policy-related items. There have been a couple cases in which a priest has engaged in an inappropriate relationship with an adult as opposed to a child, and there have been questions on how the church should move forward with those priests. Malone said that he began a taskforce several months ago with the purpose of addressing some of those policy questions.

"With children, it's zero tolerance," said Malone.

Malone says that the group is about ready to give Malone a draft of protocol that will help guide him in the future.

"I think with adult misconduct by a cleric, as serious as it is, it's important to distinguish something that's criminal from something that's sinful," he said. "Some things can be both."

There have also been questions regarding falsely accused priests and how a situation like that could unfold, especially if the priest could turn around and sue the diocese.

"We have not had an instance like that, that I know, where a priest who's been falsely accused has sued us, although I have heard of it now and then in other parts of the country," he responded.

Near the end of the interview, Bauerle asked about current parishioners and whether they are worried about another scandal or perhaps another embarrassing story regarding the clergy within their faith.

"It's always a question when you've been through a terrible storm like this, and we're still in the storm," Malone answered. "We're moving out of it; we really are. I have all kinds of reasons to be hopeful right now with things we're doing, but I don't have a crystal ball. I think what people ought to focus on from 1 Peter is to know what the reasons for your hope are. Look into your heart, look into your life as a human being, look into your life as a Catholic, and get in touch with the reasons for hope."

The bishop then answered a question about the state of the scandal right now and where people can find truth in everything that has rocked the diocese since the beginning of 2018.

"The truth is that human beings who make up the church, including clergy and all of us, are wounded people in our lives; we're wounded by sin, but it doesn't mean we're rotten," he said. "It means we can rise up, we can repent and move forward. So, we've seen a terrible, terrible of the horrors of the sin that has been sexual abuse of children and others by clergy and by other people. It's a horrible thing to have to focus on, but it's not the whole picture. The truth is that the church and all of us are called to a really high ideal - sometimes we fail. Of course, right now Christians are in the season of lent...lent calls us to look into the mirror at ourselves, spiritually, to see where we've failed, turn to God for forgiveness and mercy, and move on. I know that's taken on a new meaning for me this year."

Listen to Bauerle & Bellavia's full conversation with Bishop Malone below:

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