ELMA, N.Y. (WKBW) — Bishop Richard Malone insists that he has the majority of support among his clergy in the Diocese of Buffalo, despite troubling revelations about his handling of the priest sex abuse crisis.
Influential Catholic groups, like the "Movement to Restore Trust," have called for the Bishop to resign after secret audio recordings were released showing Malone was hesitant to deal with an active pastor accused of sexually harassing a seminarian because the Bishop was worried about a public scandal.
In the recording, Bishop Malone referred to the accused priest as "dangerous" and a "sick puppy."
After the story went public, Malone called a press conference where he said that he has no plans to step down and believes he still has the majority of support from his clergy.
But is that true?
Father Eugene Ulrich and the Pastoral Council at the Church of the Annunciation in Elma decided to see how its congregation felt.
The parish collected feedback from parishioners and conducted a survey of its parish leaders who are involved in community life (ministry, liturgy, faith formation, counsel, management, organizations, finance and charity).
As to the question of support:
- 13 supported Bishop Malone
- 32 felt Bishop Malone should resign or retire
- 2 supported the Bishop but felt he should still step down
- 1 indicated dissatisfaction with bishops
Do you have confidence in Bishop Malone's leadership to restore trust and credibility in the Diocese of Buffalo?
24 said the Bishop had lost credibilty
4 felt the Bishop could restore trust
The results were published in the church's bulletin, online, and sent to Bishop Malone.
The church's pastor, Father Ulrich, had previously supported Bishop Malone because of Malone's effort with the Movement to Restore Trust. However, calls by the movement for Malones's resignation and the results of the parish survey changed his mind.
"Personally I have been supporting you because of your commitment to work closely with the Movement to Restore Trust in bringing healing to those deeply harmed, restoring credibility and making the necessary structural changes to ensure greater lay involvement dealing with clergy abuse of minors and vulnerable adults and adult misconduct cases. MRT has now withdrawn their support and is asking for your resignation. It is difficult to see how, with continuing disclosures, that you can effectively lead the Catholic Church at Buffalo. For the greater good you should offer your resignation to the Holy Father.
Rev. Eugene P. Ulrich