Report: Bishop Malone's resignation "imminent"

Nov 13, 2019

A correspondent for London-based weekly Catholic news publication The Tablet, citing "reliable sources," suggests Bishop Richard Malone's resignation is "imminent," in advance of a Friday meeting between Pope Francis and the bishops of dioceses of New York State.

A reporter covering the Vatican visit of New York bishops is reporting that reliable sources tell him Bishop Richard Malone's resignation is "imminent."
Credit File photo

Christopher Lamb's report came in a tweet Wednesday. He says his understanding is that the papal nuncio to the U.S. was informed of Malone's resignation decision last week and is "in favor" of it.

"Bishop Malone and the bishops of New York State are due to meet Pope Francis on Friday. The bishop is in Rome, so he has a way of presenting the resignation to the pope. I am hearing it is imminent," Lamb said to WBFO.

"I am hearing at the highest levels they are aware in Rome of the situation in Buffalo, which even from an outsider's perspective seems to be very serious."

Malone has been under fire for his handling of a growing clergy sex abuse crisis that has spanned decades in the Buffalo diocese. For several months he has resisted all calls to resign.

New York bishops are in Rome this week for a visit known as "ad limina." It would be up to the Pope to accept a resignation.

"My only caution to your listeners and the people of Buffalo is that the wheels of the Vatican sometimes move very slowly," Lamb told WBFO. "Just because a bishop has presented a resignation, or is about to resign, sometimes that can take some time."

Among the bishops in Rome with Malone is Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of the Brooklyn Diocese, who recently conducted an apostolic visitation to Buffalo and interviewed several individuals, including clergy and lay persons, in relation to the diocesan sex abuse crisis.

According to Lamb, that process is complete.

A spokesperson for the diocese, when asked for comment on the report, said, "We have received no information in that regard." Late Wednesday the diocese issued a statement:

"Bishop Malone continues to serve as the leader of the Diocese of Buffalo.  He is currently engaged with the other bishops of New York State in their Ad Limina visit, discussing with officials of the Holy See and with Pope Francis the areas of challenge and progress of the Catholic Church in New York State and the scope of the vibrant ministries serving the needs of New Yorkers, both Catholic and non-Catholic alike. When Bishop Malone returns to Buffalo he will be communicating further about his meeting with the Holy Father and the other participating bishops."

Reports surfaced Wednesday that DiMarzio himself has been accused of the sexual abuse of a child. An attorney notified Catholic officials in New Jersey this week that he is preparing a lawsuit on behalf of a client who says he was molested by the Brooklyn bishop in the 1970s, when DiMarzio was a priest in Jersey City. DiMarzio says there is no truth to the accusation.

Calls for Bishop Malone's resignation began as far back as February 2018, when Michael Whalen emerged and identified himself as a childhood clergy sexual abuse victim. Retired Reverend Norbert Orsolits later admitted to the Buffalo News that he molested "probably dozens" of boys from the 1960s through the 1980s.

Those calls intensified this past September when WKBW-TV published secretly recorded audio by priest involved in a case involving alleged sexual harassment of an adult seminarian by a priest and another priest's "love letter" to that same seminarian.

Since the commencement of the Child Victims Act in New York State in August, the Diocese of Buffalo has named in nearly 170 separate lawsuits filed by plaintiffs claiming they were past victims of sexual abuses by clergy.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.