It's finally official.
Richard Malone no longer is bishop of Buffalo's Catholic diocese.
The news just came from the Vatican around 6 a.m.
The bishop's been under pressure since March 2018 when victims started coming forward accusing priests of sex abuse.
During that entire time Malone was almost defiant in refusing to step down.
Vowing to, as he called it, "continue leading his flock."
The news came directly from the Vatican from the Office of the Holy See.
Malone’s resignation has been expected since Monday night when Vatican expert Rocco Palmo reported the bishop would leave his post.
Shortly after that news broke, a high-ranking source with the diocese confirmed Malone would retire.
This all comes after Malone met with the pope at the Vatican just about a month ago.
In a three-page statement released early Wednesday, Malone says "Despite the measurable progress we have achieved together, I have concluded after much prayer and discernment that the spiritual welfare of the people of the Diocese of Buffalo will be better served by a new bishop who perhaps is better able to bring about the reconciliation, healing and renewal that is so needed. As such, I requested of His Holiness Pope Francis that he permit me to retire early, and he agreed to do so. It is my fervent belief that a bishop must not only represent the unity of our Catholic Faith and the Church Universal, but be able to bring about true Christian unity among those he is charged with leading."
For many, this is a welcome move, with some Catholics accusing Malone of covering up for priests accused of sexually abusing children and mishandling the overall crisis.
Right now, nearly 100 priests are accused of sex abuse — 75 of them are diocesan priests, 22 are affiliated with other religious orders.
The Bishop of Brooklyn, Nicholas DiMarzio, recently conducted a review of Malone's handling of that crisis, but a source said Malone's decision has nothing to do with the review.
Bishop DiMarzio said he’s kept the Diocese of Buffalo in his prayers through “this difficult period in the life of the Church of Buffalo.” He adds that he met with more than 80 people over the course of several weeks during his recent visit here.
“What I found are many deeply devoted Catholics who love their Church,” he says. “I pray this moment of suffering and pain will lead to a birth of new faith. With the appointment of the Most Reverend Edward Scharfenberger, Bishop of Albany, to oversee the Buffalo Diocese, I am confident that Buffalo Catholics are in good hands. I hope that now Catholics in Buffalo can begin the process of moving forward, healing, and helping the diocese in all of its ministries.”
Albany's Bishop Edward Scharfenberger is expected to take over as administrator of the Buffalo diocese until a permanent replacement is found.
In a statement posted Wednesday morning, Bishop Scharfenberger said he is "honored" to take over leadership of the Diocese of Buffalo.
"I ask for your prayers as we begin this journey together, and I look forward to getting to the know the people of this great diocese,” Bishop Scharfenberger said. “I will be doing a lot of listening and learning."
The Movement to Restore Trust, which had worked closely with Malone to set a path forward during the abuse scandal but later called on him to resign, said the announcement is met with “a mixture of sadness and relief. From the start of our reform efforts in October 2018, the MRT stressed that the problems that the Catholic Church in Buffalo faces were not caused by a single person. In our view, this was less about Bishop Malone and more about a culture and a way of operating that predated the bishop’s arrival in Buffalo.”
Rep. Brian Higgins, among the first to call for Malone to step down, said Catholics in Buffalo “have endured the protection of predators, cover-ups and deception. Bishop Malone’s departure offers a new beginning and opportunity to heal. The people of Western New York deserve transparency and honesty from their church. While the bishop was lacking in the ability to provide that leadership, the Western New York community is grateful to the incredibly brave survivors, principled whistleblowers and persistent journalists who were willing to bring truth to light.”
Malone's full statement is below.