A parade of Buffalo’s civic leaders Friday called for Buffalo Bishop Richard J. Malone’s resignation in the wake of a 7 Eyewitness News investigation into the cover-up of sexual abuse by priests in the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo.
“People do not have confidence in the bishop,” said Erie County Legislator Patrick B. Burke. “He's said one thing and then it turns out that there's information that goes against what he told us. There is no credibility. That’s why he needs to step aside.”
Prominent members of Buffalo’s political, business and religious communities referred to 7 Eyewitness News’ two-part investigation that revealed a documented cover-up by Malone and other diocesan leaders of two accused priests.
“I think the evidence provided by your report, is very clear and very compelling,” said Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo.
The report showed Malone re-assigned Fr. Art Smith to multiple posts after he was accused of inappropriate contact with a young boy. In one case, Malone said, “I am unaware of anything in his background which would render him unsuitable to work with minor children.”
“Bishop Malone, knowingly and repeatedly put people in the Catholic Church -- and in particular children -- when he decided to protect a group of predators instead of trying to help a group of victims,” said Buffalo Common Councilman Christopher P. Scanlon, who represents heavily Catholic South Buffalo.
Malone also allowed Father Robert Yetter of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Swormville to remain pastor despite multiple allegations of sexual abuse of young men, the I-Team investigation found.
That took parishioners like Paul L. Snyder III, CEO of Snyder Corp. and also a deacon at St. Mary’s.
“I was completely unaware of both of the allegations against the pastor of my parish, but also was shocked to learn that the people who are supposed to be protecting the most innocent people of our diocese appear to be, from your reporting, complicit in a cover-up, not only historically, but ongoing,” said Snyder.
Snyder and other members of St. Mary’s have expressed outrage that the diocese knew of the allegations against Yetter but did not inform members of the parish, who were planning a retirement party for the priest this weekend.
“As recently as June, I stood on the altar, with Bishop Malone and this priest, during which Bishop Malone lavished praise on this priest, all at the same time, knowing that there were credible allegations,” Snyder said. “We weren’t told, we could have done nothing about this, until we read your reporting.”
Snyder has asked a group of influential community leaders to begin speaking out -- and to push for what they see as a more ethical religious leader for the region.
“It is time for bishops to be held accountable both legally, and also from the standpoint of what they’re allowed to do within a diocese,” Snyder said. “They must be held accountable. We must hold this bishop accountable.”
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