Buffalo Democrats Assemblyman Pat Burke and Rep. Brian Higgins were among the first lawmakers to call for Bishop Richard Malone's resignation in August 2018.
A year and a half later, they finally got their wish.
"I think the Buffalo Diocese has a long way to go but this is a start and everybody should welcome that start,” said Higgins, 26th Congressional District.
"I don't enjoy any of it. I think it's all rather sad that the leader of the Catholic Church in Buffalo, and there's a very large Catholic population in Buffalo, has to resign under scandal,” said Pat Burke, Assembly – Buffalo.
Burke and Higgins are both Catholics, and the assemblyman says it wasn't always easy to speak out.
"It was personally vindicating that I knew I was doing the right thing and in the end I think it all worked out,” said Burke.
Other politicians who had previously criticized the bishop, including Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, County Legislature Minority Leader Joe Lorigo, and Buffalo Common Council Member Chris Scanlon, said Malone's resignation was a positive step.
Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul also had called for him to step down, but other top lawmakers like Gov. Cuomo and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have been hesitant to weigh in.
When reports came that Malone’s resignation was imminent, Cuomo said this on Tuesday, "I'll leave it to the Catholic Church to decide their own rules. I'm speaking from the governmental perspective. I happen to be a Catholic. I happen to be a former altar boy but the law is the law."
Higgins and Burke say the diocese still has to take more steps to restore trust, including cooperation with law enforcement on any current or future investigations.
Higgins released a statement Wednesday morning, saying: “The Catholic Bishop plays a significant role in the community, overseeing local parishes, schools, hospitals and charities. While Catholics know it is the people that make the church, faith and trust in the church leadership is necessary. The people of the Buffalo Diocese have endured the protection of predators, coverups 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 this 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.”
Burke said the move "sends an important message to victims that we stand with them and that our community is willing to fight for justice."