BUFFALO, N.Y. – Bishop Richard Malone finally broke his silence on Sunday after calls for him to resign.
This comes after reports surfaced that the Diocese of Buffalo mishandled sex abuse allegations and reinstated priests who were accused of inappropriate conduct. Victims and elected officials claim the bishop was involved in a cover-up and continued to put children in harm's way.
Sunday, the bishop said he has no plans to leave his post.
"I have prayed about this very question deeply and I have sought guidance from colleagues, friends, brothers and sisters in the ministry, and I'm grateful for the support of so many,” Malone said. "I stand before you today re-committed to my calling to serve as bishop of Buffalo. The shepherd does not desert the flock in difficult times."
In a statement to Spectrum News Sunday, Erie County Legislature Patrick Burke said Bishop Malone’s refusal to step down adds to his “belief that leaders in the church are more concerned with their image and their political future within the church, rather than helping those who have suffered because of their negligence.”
The bishop announced plans for a new task force that will examine the procedures for handling claims of abuse. An office for professional responsibility is also in the works to help enforce the diocesan code of ethics.
Buffalo South District Council Member Chris Scanlon told Spectrum News while he appreciates Malone’s willingness to better address sexual misconduct involving adults, his "silence on his mishandling of the abuse of children and his enabling of these predators is deafening."
"What needs to be restored is confidence that this will be reviewed without expectations," Rep. Brian Higgins said Friday.
Malone’s efforts are too little too late, according to Road to Recovery President Robert Hoatson.
"He called what priests did to children today sinful actions -- Bishop Malone: these are crimes [you're] talking about,” said Hoatson. “You continue to demean the victims and re-abuse the victims by not calling these actions what they are!"
The bishop said he will fully cooperate with any investigation initiated by the New York State Attorney General’s Office and district attorney.
"We're hoping now that through a grand jury investigation, D.A. Flynn, and also a change in the law by passing the Child Victims Act, victims will finally have their day in court,” said Hoatson. "We don't even have to go near Bishop Malone, because the secular authorities and legal authorities will give victims the justice they deserve."