Three local elected officials - as well as a local Catholic deacon - called Friday for the resignation of Bishop Richard Malone, in response to how the Diocese of Buffalo has handled sex abuse claims.
Erie County Legislator Patrick Burke, who is running for state office this fall, issued a written statement urging Bishop Malone to step down in light of ongoing stories of abuse and alleged cover-ups in the diocese.
"He came into this diocese and said had had nothing to do with the past and he would be a change from previous bishops," Burke said to WBFO. "And we've seen that's not true. We've seen, in many cases, reported cases where he knew about the inappropriate behavior of the priests and, instead of taking direct action, he turned these priests back into the ministry where they were around children. It's unacceptable."
Buffalo Common Councilmember Christopher Scanlon issued a pair of tweets on his personal Twitter account, first responding to a report by WKBW-TV by stating "Bishop Malone knowingly and repeatedly put children in danger, he should resign immediately." He followed with "I stand with you on this @PatBBurke. This abuse has to end."
Congressman Brian Higgins also used his Twitter account to call for the bishop's resignation, citing "overwhelming evidence" of Malone's "poor leadership."
A local deacon has also called for the bishop's resignation. Paul Snyder III of St. Mary's Church in Swormville, a hamlet of Amherst, told WBFO while he believes Malone is a good man he has demonstrated poor judgement in how the diocese has handled abuse claims.
"This is the time for us to take back our faith and to send a message, not to punish but to change," Snyder said. "The only way I believe it can be done is if we have a change of leadership and an independent investigation and it must happen now. This abomination must end now."
He had grown concerned over the list of at least 60 clergy within the Diocese of Buffalo accused of sexual misconduct and was upset by allegations revealed by a Pennsylvania grand jury about widespread, systematic abuse there. The Diocese of Buffalo was criticized by the Pennsylvania panel for sending a priest there from Buffalo, one with known accusations against him.
Snyder told WBFO that he decided to speak out publicly following a report by WKBW-TV alleging that his own pastor, Reverend Robert Yetter, had engaged in inappropriate contact with adult men, including one who accused him of attempting to grope and kiss him. Yetter announced his retirement in July.
Snyder urged parishioners to speak up and demand change.
"I also believe, for the health and benefit of the Diocese of Buffalo, we need an open investigation," he said. "I would ask that the attorney general from New York State, working with local law enforcement authorities, do a complete and thorough and independent investigation."
WBFO contacted the Diocese of Buffalo for a comment. In a brief written reply, a diocesan spokesperson said, "we have no response to the calls for resignation."