Buffalo Bishop Richard Malone admitted fault in his handling of some misconduct claims of the past, but said he is encouraged by the discussions taking place at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops concerning clerical misconduct with adults.
"This is one area where my approach has been inadequate, and I am looking forward to our new lay task force developing a strong protocol for these serious matters," Malone said in a statement from Baltimore. "I already have some new resources."
Malone's comments Tuesday come a day after the president of the conference opened the group's national meeting by announcing it will delay for at least several months any action on proposed new steps to address the clergy sex abuse crisis that is rocking the church.
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston said the delay was requested by the Vatican, which asked that the U.S. bishops wait until after a Vatican-convened global meeting on sex abuse in February.
"We were all frustrated and angry when we learned we would not be voting on action items re: bishops accountability because the Vatican wants to wait until Feb. meeting of presidents of the world's Episcopal conferences, but we are having robust discussions on these topics nevertheless," Malone said. "There's a lot of candor, challenge and determination in the room."
The bishops are meeting through Wednesday and had been expected to consider several steps to combat abuse, including a new code of conduct for themselves.
A 7 Eyewitness News I-Team investigation, citing internal church documents, revealed Malone returned two priests to ministry in the Diocese of Buffalo, despite allegations of sexual misconduct.
In the case of Father Robert Yetter - the longtime pastor of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Swormville - at least three young men came forward to report sexual advances by the now retired priest.