BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The bishop of Buffalo is one of a handful that always walk in the front of the St. Patrick's Day Parade. However, this year, a group of Western New Yorkers want that tradition to end.
A Change.org petition cites the Bishop Richard Malone's role in the diocese's sex abuse crisis as grounds to have him removed from the parade. As of Tuesday, the petition had garnered just over 130 signatures.
There is also a group of south Buffalo politicians that are calling for the bishop to step out of the parade.
"I don't think he should be out there enjoying the Irish culture and Irish heritage and celebrating it," Buffalo city councilman Chris Scanlon said.
Recently elected assembly member, Pat Burke, shares the same feelings.
"I don't think it's appropriate," he said.
However, the United Irish American's Association, the organization that coordinates the parade, said it does not decide who the dioceses sends as a representative.
"Whether or not the bishop is marching is up to him," Brigid Knott, a spokesperson for the organization, said.
The UIAA also said that it will not approach the diocese about the bishop's inclusion.
The diocese did give 7 Eyewitness News a statement. It said, "For many years, the bishops of Buffalo have marched in the parade. Bishop Malone is honored to be a part of this long standing tradition in Western New York."
Bishop Malone is also set to say mass prior to the start of the parade on Sunday March 17.
Extensive reporting by the 7 Eyewitness News I-Team showed Bishop Malone allowed priests to return to ministry despite allegations of sexual abuse.