Buffalo bishop resigns amid widespread criticism of his handling of sexual misconduct

Peter Weber

The Vatican announced Wednesday that Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Richard Malone of the Diocese of Buffalo, New York. No reason was given for Malone's departure, two years before he turns 75, the mandatory retirement age for Catholic prelates. But under Malone's watch, the Buffalo diocese has become engulfed in scandal over the handling of sexual abuse cases; it now faces an FBI investigation and more than 220 lawsuits, and in one recent poll, 86 percent of Buffalo Catholics wanted him to quit.

Malone was appointed Buffalo's bishop in 2012, and a 2018 sexual abuse allegation against a priest in the diocese set off a flood of more complaints. The list of credibly accused abusers in March 2018 was criticized as incomplete by a whistleblower who said she had found a 300-page dossier in a closet, next to a vacuum cleaner. Pressure mounted in September after a Buffalo TV station broadcast audio secretly recorded by Malone's priest-secretary in which the bishop lamented that a seminarian's sexual harassment accusation could "be the end of me as a bishop," and the seminarian, Matthew Bojanowski, then publicly accused Malone of failing to take action against his alleged abuser.

The pope appointed Bishop Edward Scharfenberger of Albany to lead the diocese on a temporary basis.

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