Top U.S. cardinal and papal adviser says Vatican should investigate Bishop Malone

Responds to 3-part investigative series by WKBW
Posted at 4:05 PM, Oct 10, 2018

A high-ranking U.S. cardinal and papal adviser is "concerned" about Bishop Malone's handling of alleged sexual abuse by priests in the Diocese of Buffalo and wants the Vatican to investigate.

Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley, of the Archdiocese of Boston, Mass., is one of the most influential cardinals in the American church.

Pope Francis appointed O'Malley as the president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. 

Because of that key position, 7 Eyewitness News reached out to O'Malley for reaction to its three-part investigation into Buffalo Bishop Richard J. Malone's handling of allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct by priests in his diocese. 

"I have shared that information with Cardinal O’Malley who is deeply concerned by the absence of recognition of the abuse experienced by the survivors and the responses or absence of response provided to the survivors," Terrence C. Donilon, a spokesman for the Boston Archdiocese, said in an email to 7 Eyewitness News. 

He added, "It is the Cardinal’s assessment that the information in your reports should be reviewed by the Church authorities who have oversight and jurisdiction for the action or inaction of diocesan leadership in Buffalo with regard to the reports of abuse. "

"For those reasons, Cardinal O’Malley will send the documentation of your reports to the Most Rev. Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, with note of the content and allegations in the reports," the email stated.

While O'Malley does not have direct authority over Bishop Malone -- only a pope can technically remove a bishop -- he wields great influence with the Holy Father, especially on the controversial topic of sexual abuse. O'Malley was appointed Boston archbishop in 2003 after then-Cardinal Bernard F. Law resigned in disgrace over his handling of sexual abuse in Boston. Malone was an auxiliary bishop under Cardinal Law but has said he did not play a major role in that crisis.

Part 1 of the 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.

In September 2018, the State Attorney General launched a statewide investigation into sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. 

Malone in August held a news conference and vowed to stay as Buffalo bishop.

Through a spokeswoman, Bishop Malone did not immediately respond to a request to comment for this story.