Bishop Richard Malone, who returned to Buffalo Sunday night after a week-long visit to Rome, said Pope Francis, whom he met with last Friday, is well aware of the situation in his diocese as it continues to grapple with the fallout from decades of clergy sexual abuse.
In a video message released Monday, Malone said after privately speaking with the Pope, it was clear Francis "understands the difficulties and distress we, here in Buffalo, and I, personally, have been experiencing."
"He was very understanding and kind."
Malone spent last week at the Vatican along with a group of New York bishops in what was called an "ad limina" visit. He participated in Mass at historic churches and met with officials in the Holy See, including a two-hour group meeting with Pope Francis in what Malone described as "free and open discussion" of the church's challenges. That discussion, he said, included "care for victim-survivors of abuse," among other topics.
"Pope Francis was most welcoming and gracious, expressing his paternal and loving support for us in our ministry," Malone said.
Malone said the Congregation of Bishops has received a report on the recently-conducted apostolic visitation from Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, which he says is being held in strict confidentiality.
"In the meantime, be assured that I am wholly committed to fostering the healing of victim-survivors, rebuilding trust, and, with our clergy and other church ministers, renewing faith and carrying on the essential ministries that serve the needs of Catholics and of the larger Western New York community," he said.
"I ask for your prayers and patience while the path forward is discerned," Malone said.
Malone and auxiliary bishop Edward Grosz avoided confronting reporters and protesters at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport upon their return Sunday night.