Robert Hoatson on Thursday stood across the street from the Buffalo Catholic Diocese headquarters on Main Street in Buffalo — a place he's been many times over the past two years.
The former priest and advocate for survivors of sexual abuse as co-founder of Road to Recovery has been calling for Bishop Richard Malone's resignation for his mishandling of the clergy abuse crisis in the Diocese.
Christopher Lamb, a correspondent for London-based Catholic news outlet The Tablet suggests Malone stepping down is imminent ahead of the New York state bishops meeting with Pope Francis in Rome on Friday.
"We're finally getting to the heart of the matter," Hoatson said. "The people of Buffalo, especially the survivors of sexual abuse, should be rejoicing today, and hoping and praying that what we're hearing out of Rome is true.”
A spokesperson for Malone has said he remains the leader of the Buffalo Diocese, and emphatically denies the report that Malone is resigning.
This comes after an investigation into the Buffalo situation by Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, ordered by the Vatican.
"I think Pope Francis is finally beginning to realize the extent of the corruption of the men that are running the church," Hoatson said.
DiMarzio himself has now been accused of sexual abuse, which Hoatson believes could create questions about the credibility of the report on Malone.
Still, if Malone does indeed step down, Hoatson says Pope Francis could appoint someone in the short-term to clean up the issues in the Buffalo Diocese, or the church could follow the traditional process for choosing a new bishop. To Hoatson, however, restoring trust for survivors and parishioners is paramount.
"When a person comes in and tells the truth, the healing of the victims is assisted and people in the pews can say, ‘At least we have a man who will tell us the truth.’ This man has done just the opposite time after time after time.”
A Diocese spokesperson says Bishop Malone will discuss the meeting with Pope Francis when he returns to Buffalo.