Calls are mounting for Buffalo Bishop Richard J. Malone to resign in the wake of a 7 Eyewitness News investigation that revealed a continuing cover-up of sexual abuse in the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo.
The latest to join the list is Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who called for Malone's resignation following the Bishops announcement that he would remain in his post.
“As a born and raised Catholic growing up here in Western New York this is deeply painful for all of us to know that people get betrayed by men in cloth that people trusted." Hochul said, "And as a parent I find it abhorrent to know that my children themselves could have been exposed to this behavior by sexual offenders. And anyone who knew of these individuals and took no action, that is being complicit in a crime. This is a crime against children. And my view is, I wish the Catholic church would be more concerned about keeping children away from sexual predators, instead of keeping children away from loving families who want to adopt them. I believe he (Bishop Malone) should resign. We need new leadership to come in here, clean house, and say there is zero tolerance for anyone who would ever consider violating the trust families and children have in their priests and administrators in the Catholic schools. It has to end."
Three elected officials from South Buffalo -- the region's most heavily Catholic enclave -- including a United States Congressman, said Malone must resign immediately because he has lost the trust of much of the region's nearly 600,000 Catholics.
In addition, they are pushing for a criminal investigation of the Diocese of Buffalo.
Rep. Brian Higgins said, "Overwhelming evidence recently released clearly shows that Bishop Malone has exhibited poor leadership and knew about children and others put in harm's way. He must resign."
Overwhelming evidence recently released clearly shows that Bishop Malone has exhibited poor leadership and knew about children and others put in harm's way. He must resign. @DAErieCountyNY Flynn & @NewYorkStateAG Underwood must immediately launch a full investigation.
— Brian Higgins (@RepBrianHiggins) August 24, 2018
Higgins called on Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn Jr. and State Attorney General Barbara Underwood to launch a criminal investigation of Malone and the diocese's actions.
Erie County Legislator Patrick Burke was the first to call for the bishop to step down, saying in an interview with 7 Eyewitness News that "there is no path forward" for Malone in Buffalo.
Doing what's right isn't always easy. I ask myself, WWJD in the face of this? I think he'd be flipping over tables. https://t.co/2TmIpjtPLg
— Pat Burke (@PatBBurke) August 17, 2018
“I believe we have only scratched the surface of the problem,” said Burke. “In just the past several months, the story has grown from reports of a few isolated incidents, to reports that the local diocese knew about this issue for decades and intentionally hid the truth from parishioners and the public at large. The time has come for Bishop Malone to step down. Our community needs a full accounting of what happened here.”
The region's Catholic radio station is also calling for the bishop to resign. It plans to broadcast a "Special Report" at 5 p.m. to discuss "newly reported scandals within the Church."
— Charlie Specht (@Charlie_Reports) August 24, 2018
Christopher Scanlon, Buffalo Common Councilman representing South Buffalo, said Malone "knowingly and repeatedly put children in danger" and "should resign immediately."
Bishop Malone knowingly and repeatedly put children in danger, he should resign immediately. https://t.co/wCyLyC7pNl
— Chris Scanlon (@CMChrisScanlon) August 24, 2018
Friday afternoon, Paul Snyder III added his name to that list. The CEO and President of Snyder Corp. cites Malone's handling of the growing clergy sex abuse scandal. Snyder referenced the 7 Eyewitness News I-Team investigation specifically for his decision for going public with his calls for Malone's resignation.
"Thank you for what you and your organization are doing to tell this awful, and I’m sure painful, story," Snyder said in a brief phone call. "We need to get to a place of healing but we are not there yet and we have a long way to go."
Snyder spoke to The Buffalo News at length about what he called Malone's "seriously negligent" conduct, especially in light of the diocese's decision to end its Catholic Charities adoption program because a same-sex couple applied to adopt a child.
"Yesterday, we found out that our diocese is ending its adoption program because they don’t want to help homosexual couple to adopt children," Snyder told The News. "So our diocese covers up for priests who molest children, but they won’t allow homosexual couples to help children. To me, that is the ultimate hypocrisy. If you ran a business this way, and covered up for child molesters in your company, you’d be put in jail.”
Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz criticized that move, as well, calling on Malone "to reverse this decision and follow the lead of Pope Francis by not defining a person by their sexual orientation but by the love and compassion they contain in their heart for others."
My statement regarding @ccbuffalo's decision to to end its provision of foster care and adoptive services. For the reasons described therein, I call on @BishopRJMalone of @BuffaloDiocese to reverse the decision. https://t.co/rozQ0bGSu3 pic.twitter.com/Icb9p9uylk
— Mark Poloncarz (@markpoloncarz) August 24, 2018
On Saturday, Assemblyman Erik Bohen provided 7 Eyewitness News with this statement urging the Erie County District Attorney's Office and New York State Attorney General Barbara Underwood to investigate the Buffalo Diocese.
— Charlie Specht (@Charlie_Reports) August 25, 2018
George Richert, Diocese of Buffalo spokesman, said "We have no response today to the calls for the Bishops [sic] resignation."
This comes just one day after the 7 Eyewitness News I-Team released a two-part series exposing Bishop Malone's direct knowledge and involvement in the cover-up of allegations surrounding two priests, Fr. Art Smith and Fr. Robert Yetter.
READ OUR I-TEAM INVESTIGATIONS HERE: