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Engulfed by scandal, Buffalo Bishop Richard Malone resigns

Posted at 7:06 AM, Dec 04, 2019

BUFFALO, N.Y. — After multiple investigations by Scripps station WKBW in Buffalo that revealed mishandling of sexual abuse cases by Buffalo Bishop Richard J. Malone, the scandal-plagued shepherd is resigning from office.

The Vatican announced the Bishop's resignation Wednesday morning via a press release.

"The Holy Father has accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Buffalo, United States of America, presented by Bishop Richard J. Malone, and has appointed Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger of Albany as apostolic administrator of the same diocese," the statement read.

The move was anticipated days ago when Catholic journalist Rocco Palmo published a report on his site "Whispers in the Loggia." Four sources confirmed to Palmo that Malone would step down Wednesday and be replaced in the interim by Bishop Edward Scharfenberger of the Diocese of Albany.

Malone has been under pressure to resign since August 2018, when WKBW published an investigation that revealed Malone:

Returned Rev. Art Smith to ministry despite allegations of inappropriate contact with a child.Allowed Rev. Robert Yetter to remain in ministry despite multiple allegations of sexual misconduct with young adult parishioners.Concealed allegations against more than 60 priests when the diocese released a list of 42 accused priests (the diocese's internal list of clergy with allegations against them exceeded 100 and has now grown to more than 180 ).

But the pressure on Malone intensified in September when WKBW published secret audio recordings where Malone attempt ed to conceal sexual misconduct allegations involving Rev. Jeffrey Nowak. Malone called the priest "dangerous" but allowed him to remain pastor of Our Lady Help of Christians for more than six months with no notification to parishioners.

Malone refused to resign repeatedly, but a Vatican investigation conducted last month by Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio appears to have tipped the balance.

Nearly 86 percent of Catholics wanted Malone to resign, a scientific poll by The Buffalo News shows taken in September showed. Fewer than 3 percent of those surveyed wanted him to stay, while 12 percent were undecided.

Malone fought hard to stay in power, striving to avoid the fate of his mentor, disgraced Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston, who resigned in 2003 when the worldwide clergy abuse scandal broke in that city.

In the end, he was unable to avoid the same fate as Law.

Malone becomes the first bishop in the 172-year history of the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo to resign from office.

The temporary administrator will take over immediately. It typically takes up to a year for the Vatican to name a permanent bishop, but Vatican experts say Buffalo's appointment is likely to be fast-tracked and could be in place before Easter.

Read the full statement from Bishop Richard J. Malone:

This story was originally published by Charlie Specht on WKBW in Buffalo.