The database at Bishop-Accountability.org, which documents the clergy abuse crisis in the Catholic church, shows that abuse by priests has been reported in all 50 states.
In the state of New York there are eight Catholic Dioceses. According to The New York Times, the Buffalo Diocese had been relatively insulated from the abuse scandals until 2018.
What happened in Buffalo in 2018? Keep reading…
The Buffalo Diocese is one of the Northeast’s largest, with 600,000 Catholics. Six hundred thousand faithful, many or most of them attending church in more than 150 parishes.
And in some of those churches were and are priests who have and probably still are sexually abusing people.
Why were those abusers in the Buffalo diocese still performing as priests? Why are those abusers still performing as priests?
This is baffling to me because…
Hasn’t the church abuse scandal been front-page news since the Boston Globe broke the story in 2002?
Didn’t the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops – in that same year – establish this charter of procedures to deal with accused child sex abusers in the clergy, including a “zero tolerance” policy for accused abusers:
Didn’t Pope Francis – in 2013, shortly after becoming pope – announce the creation of a Vatican committee to fight sex abuse in the church? And publicly apologize for the Vatican’s actions, expressing regret that “personal, moral damage” had been “carried out by men of the Church”? And also urge any priest who had enabled abuse by moving an abuser to another parish to resign?
Didn’t this same pope host a conference of bishops in Rome this past February to talk about sexual abuse, where he vowed “to combat this evil that strikes at the very heart of our mission”?
Didn’t the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops meet this past June with a focus on the church sex abuse scandal? Where they committed to bishops holding each other accountable for committing sexual abuse and covering up the crimes committed by their fellow bishops?
And didn’t this same group come up with a toll-free number to call to report abuse?
Though, after reading that paragraph – never mind that one.
Didn’t yet another group of U.S. bishops – this time from New York including Malone – meet with the pope as recently as this past November:
What the hell did Malone and the pope talk about?
Pope: So, Malone, how’s it going? Hidden any more documents lately?
Malone: Oh, you know – all is calm, all is right. Bright. Whatever.
Isn’t this the church on track to spend another $4 billion settling clergy abuse lawsuits?
Isn’t this the church that’s been promising “transparency” so often, ad nauseam comes to mind?
Yet in the Buffalo diocese, Bishop John Malone had files about abusive priests that he was hiding from the public.
What happened in Buffalo in 2018?
In 2018, abuse survivors in the Buffalo diocese began speaking publicly, and the local news media began to investigate.
The media found that at least some of the accused priests were still in the pulpit.
Responding to pressure, in March 2018 Bishop Malone released a list of 42 priests accused of abuse over decades.
Enter the whistleblower:
Siobhan O’Connor had worked closely with Richard Malone as his executive assistant for three years.
She’d seen 117 names on a draft list in the diocese’s secret files.
She began photocopying documents. Just before she quit her job in August 2018, she anonymously leaked the church documents to a reporter at Buffalo television station WKBW.
The hundreds of pages O’Connor uncovered included personnel files and memos. They revealed that for years Bishop Malone allowed priests accused of sexual assault such as statutory rape and groping to stay on the job.
According to The New York Times,
“The leaks revealed Malone, who had led the diocese since 2012, as clinical and protective in his dealings with church lawyers about abuse, seeking to limit disclosure of church secrets to minimize their damage.”
Then in October 2018, O’Connor appeared on 60 Minutes:
The 60 Minutes story noted,
“In Bishop Malone’s first six years in Buffalo just one priest was put on leave. It was only after this scandal broke in March  that he suspended 16 more for abuse. None have been kicked out of the priesthood.”
In addition to O’Connor, other people were included in the 60 Minutes segment but, the program also noted, “Bishop Malone declined our requests for an interview.”
Probably because Malone was too busy running around, telling everyone he was not going to resign – he did that a lot, and loudly:
But then he did this:
But don’t feel sorry for Malone.
According to a 12/10/19 article in the Buffalo News, Malone, is now referred to as “Bishop Emeritus.”
“Emeritus” meaning “the former holder of an office, having retired but allowed to retain their title as an honor,” and a misnomer if I ever heard one.
The Buffalo News provided this checklist of the cushy benefits of Malone’s retirement:
- At least $1,900 per month in stipend and pension benefits, according to guidelines set in 2010 by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
- Appropriate housing and board within the diocese where he last served. The housing should include the use of a private chapel and housekeeping assistance. If the bishop emeritus chooses to live outside of the diocese where he last served, that diocese is still obligated to pay for appropriate housing and board.
- Health and welfare benefits, including major medical and the full cost of medical and hospital care.
- Home healthcare, assisted living and long-term care facilities.
- An office and secretarial assistance.
- Paid funeral and burial expenses.
- An insured car.
- Paid travel expenses for provincial and regional meetings, USCCB meetings, visits to the Vatican, installations of other bishops, and other functions that involve meeting with colleague bishops.
In the same Buffalo News article, when the writer was asked if Malone would be charged, he said in part,
“Revelations of clergy sexual abuse cover-ups similar to those now surfacing in the Buffalo Diocese have been uncovered in dozens of other dioceses around the country and rarely resulted in criminal prosecutions.
“In 2012, Bishop Robert W. Finn of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph became the first Catholic prelate in the country to be convicted of protecting from prosecution a priest who had child pornography. A judge found Finn guilty of a misdemeanor for failing to tell police that one of his priests collected lewd images of young girls on his computer. Finn was sentenced to two years of probation.
“A Philadelphia jury in 2012 convicted Monsignor William Lynn, a supervisor in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, of covering up clergy sex abuse, but the conviction was voided on appeal in 2016.”
In other words, instead of Malone being here:
He’ll be here…………………….or perhaps here………………………..or maybe here:
Or (see #2, above) Malone will be wherever he “chooses to live outside of the diocese,” since “that diocese is still obligated to pay for appropriate housing and board.”
Memo to Malone:
Wherever you decide to park your bony ass…
The pope recently made a “big announcement” about abolishing a secrecy policy in clergy sexual abuse cases:
Here are some of the highlights from The New York Times article:
- “It’s now (see above) acceptable – but not required – to turn information about abuse claims over to the police, prosecutors and judges.”
But – why not required? No explanation forthcoming.
- “In recent years, church officials in the United States and some other countries have shared with civil authorities information about some sexual abuse allegations. But that cooperation, in theory, defied a decree adopted in 2001 that made the information a ‘pontifical secret’ – the church’s most classified knowledge.”
Not only was the church hiding information about the sexual abuse, there was actually a decree against sharing information with civil authorities from the “pontifical,” or highest, level.
- “The rule announced on Tuesday was also a product of the February meeting, the Vatican said.”
This is referencing the bishops conference the pope held in Rome in February, which I talked about earlier. It took the pope 11 months to make this watered-down decision?
- “This is a sign of openness, transparency and the willingness to collaborate with the civil authorities,” Andrea Tornielli, the editorial director of the Vatican’s communications office, wrote in a commentary.
There’s that word “transparency” again.
- “The Rev. Hans Zollner, a member of the Vatican’s child protection commission, said, ‘This is pretty much revolutionary.’”
Let’s see if the hundreds of thousands of victims of clergy sexual abuse agree.
Victims: Everyone who agrees, give a big cheer!
What’s that we’re hearing?
Finally – not that there will ever be an end to this story – in contrast to the Times story that said the top-secret decree had been around since 2002, NPR noted that it had been around since 1974.
If so, that means it was in place during the time of, and clearly with the approval of, five popes:
Paul VI 1963-1978
John Paul I 1978
John Paul II 1978-2005
Benedict XVI 2005-2013
Here’s the headline from the NPR story, and here’s that word again:
This story will never be over until there truly is…