Bishop Richard Malone spoke out publicly for the first time since a whistleblower appeared on 60 Minutes.
He spoke on WBEN radio Friday afternoon, calling his former secretary-turned-whistleblower, Siobhan O’Connor, a “wonderful colleague.”
Malone also addressed some of the claims made in the 60 Minutes story, saying it was a mistake to recommend Father Art Smith for a job aboard a cruise ship was a mistake.
He said the first substantiated complaint about Father Smith and a minor came after he wrote the recommendation.
Malone also addressed accusations that eight or nine priests have been allowed to remain active despite credible accusations of child sex abuse against them.
“It has been a very, very stressful time. I’ve never really felt my own personal integrity and credibility so much under attack as it is now,” Malone told WBEN. “I have apologized many times for what I know were missteps in how I handled some allegations of clerical misconduct with adults. I still will say, to my dying day, I have not made that mistake when it comes to allegations with children. And let me say this if I could: I will maintain, with the clearest of consciouses, that there are not eight or nine priests out there with allegations of abuse of a minor. 60 Minutes reported that and it is false. That’s why, since then, I have asked the people who made those claims, two individuals in particular made those claims. Tell us who those priests are. If they’re out there and guilty of abuse, tell me and I'll pull them out.
Bishop Malone once again stated that he will not resign. He will, however, address the media on Monday afternoon.
In the meantime, Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said updates have been to the memorandum of understanding between district attorneys and the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo when it comes to reporting sexual abuse allegations.
The agreement was first drafted in 2003 but wasn’t signed by Bishop Malone and all eight district attorneys in Western New York until late September.
Under the new agreement, the Diocese of Buffalo agreed that if they were aware of sexual abuse of minors within the statutes of limitations, they would contact the district attorney.
The agreement does not require clergy to report anything that is said during confession.
In 2006, the district attorney says the New York State Legislature changed the laws with regards to Class A and Class B felonies, eliminating the five- year statute of limitation.
The updated agreement with the diocese reflects that change.
"My end goal is to get clergy on this list to become mandatory reporters and once that happens we can throw the memo away," Flynn said.
During the next legislative session in Albany, Flynn intends to lobby to get clergy added to the Mandatory Reporters of Child Abuse and Neglect list. The list includes professions that come into frequent contact with children including counselors and teachers.