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As Buffalo Bishop sells mansion to pay for sex abuse claims, the symbolism is striking

But victims say he needs to release priest docs
Posted at 10:16 PM, Apr 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-14 15:48:55-05

Buffalo Bishop Richard Malone is selling his house.

The palatial mansion on Oakland Place -- home to Buffalo's bishops since 1952 -- will soon be sold, possibly for upwards of $1 million, to help pay victims of sexually abusive Catholic priests in Buffalo.

“So it's an important day, kind of a historic day, but I feel good about it,” Malone said in an afternoon news conference. “We do have some resources for that already, but we know we'll need more, so we decided to put the house on the market.”

Abuse victims say the symbolism -- the bishop will live in a vacant convent at St. Stanislaus Church on Buffalo’s East Side -- is striking.

“People are calling us and saying, ‘My life was absolutely shattered...and yet...these guys are living high off the hog,” victim advocate Robert Hoatson said last month.

Also up for sale is the Sheehan Residence, a home for retired priests on Linwood Avenue.

Malone, when pressed by the 7 Eyewitness News I-Team, acknowledged the diocese could even be looking for a new headquarters if it finds a suitor for the Catholic Center, which since the 1980s has been located in the former Courier-Express building on Main Street.

“Well we don't intend to shut the whole church down over the crisis, you know,” Malone said. “For two or three years we've been looking for smaller space.”

Retired Rev. Roy Herberger has been calling for the move for years. 

“Now I can die happy,” Herberger said. “Selling the mansion isn't going to solve all of our financial problems but it's a sign. It's a symbol that the diocese or the bishop at the time, whoever he might be, is ready to be a leader by example.”

The surprise announcement came hours after sexual abuse victims and their lawyers called on the diocese to release more detailed histories of abusive priests -- and also the names of bishops who covered up the abuse.

“The diocese of buffalo has stopped short,” attorney J. Michael Reck said. “Does this happen without diocesan officials making it happen? No, of course not. They protected abusers when they should have been protecting children.”

Malone said he refuses to release the personnel files and he doesn't blame past bishops for abuse that happened during their tenures.

“I feel confident that bishops who served in this diocese before me did the best they could do with the information they had with the protocols that either existed or did not exist at the time,” he said.