BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Speaking from Rome, former priest and clergy sexual abuse survivor Jim Faluszczak has a simple message for the pope:
Fire embattled Buffalo Bishop Richard J. Malone -- or resign.
"I say again as I have said repeatedly here and in Buffalo, that Bishop Malone is disqualified from being bishop," Faluszczak said. "And if Pope Francis will not act on his removal, he is disqualified from being the Bishop of Rome."
Faluszczak's strong statements come in the wake of a three-day sexual abuse summit at the Vatican. The historic event comes as Pope Francis attempts to deal with an issue that has exploded in the public consciousness -- especially in Buffalo.
Through a spokeswoman, Malone released a statement calling for "healing" but did not directly respond to Faluszczak's criticism.
More than 118 priests in the Buffalo Diocese have been accused of sexual misconduct, and Malone has been criticized for allegedly covering up recent abuses.
Part 1 of a 7 Eyewitness News I-Team investigation revealed that Malone returned Fr. Art Smith to ministry despite allegations of inappropriate contact with a child. Malone returned the accused priests to ministry after a previous bishop suspended him, documents obtained by the 7 Eyewitness News I-Team show.
Part 2 revealed that Malone allowed Fr. Robert Yetter to remain pastor of St. Mary's in Swormville despite multiple sexual harassment allegations by young men.
Part 3 cited church records that showed more than 100 priests in the diocese were accused of sexual abuse or misconduct. Malone in March released a list of only 42 priests "who were removed from ministry, were retired, or left ministry after allegations of sexual abuse of a minor."
The investigative series sparked Buffalo civic leaders to call for Malone's resignation and Catholics have mounted weekly protests in front of the Diocese of Buffalo Chancery. Malone in August held a news conference and refused to resign as Buffalo bishop.
In September, the State Attorney General launched a statewide investigation into sexual abuse in the Catholic Church and last week, it was revealed the FBI has launched its own criminal investigation into the diocese.
In October, "60 Minutes" aired a national investigative story on Bishop Malone and the Diocese of Buffalo.
In November, I-Team Chief Investigator Charlie Specht traveled to Portland, Maine. Malone served as bishop there before coming to Buffalo. There, Charlie spoke with advocates for victims of sexual abuse about how Malone had been accused of mishandling sex abuse cases. The I-Team also obtained new documents surrounding the cases which paint a much different picture of the bishop’s past.
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