Pope accepts resignation of USA bishop accused of abuse cover-up

Buffalo case shows more needs to be done on bishop accountability

Buffalo case shows more needs to be done on bishop accountability

The Vatican said on Wednesday that Pope Francis had accepted the resignation of Bishop Richard Malone of Buffalo, New York, who has been at the centre of a sex abuse crisis in his diocese.

As was the case in ME, numerous abuse claims in Buffalo date back decades, long before Malone's arrival in 2012. Scharfenberger, who will serve until a new bishop of Buffalo is named at a later date, will oversee all aspects of the eight-county diocese in Western New York and plans to visit the Diocese of Buffalo weekly.

"My handling of recent claims from some of our parishioners concerning sexual misconduct with adults unquestionably has fallen short of the standard to which you hold us, and to which we hold ourselves", Malone said a year ago.

Over the past year, two key members of Malone's staff have gone public with concerns about his leadership, including his former secretary, the Rev. Ryszard Biernat, who secretly recorded Malone calling a then-active priest "a sick puppy", but taking no immediate action to remove him.

He has denied the accusations and until recently said he would not be stepping down early.

Malone has been accused in USA media of hiding the names of accused priests and of allowing some to remain in the ministry.

At 73, he is leaving earlier than the 75-year mark that is the mandatory age for bishops to offer their retirement.

He added in a statement on Wednesday: "I have acknowledged on many occasions the mistakes I have made in not addressing more swiftly personnel issues that, in my view, required time to sort out complex details pertaining to behaviour between adults".

Pressure though on him to leave has been intense.

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A diocesan priest, meanwhile, has been circulating a "no confidence" letter for signatures.

"This has been a hard period in the life of the Church in Buffalo", he said in a statement.

He noted that the October visitation "was conducted with urgency as the Holy See directed that this visitation be thorough with the foremost consideration being the good of the people of the Diocese of Buffalo".

Among those who called for Malone's resignation was the former dean of seminarians at the diocese's Christ the King Seminary.

"I have concluded after much prayer and discernment that the spiritual welfare of the people of the Diocese of Buffalo will be better served by a new bishop who perhaps is better able to bring about the reconciliation, healing and renewal that is so needed", Mr Malone said.

Malone in April suspended three priests after several seminarians complained the older men subjected them to disturbing and offensive sexual discussions during a party at a rectory. Already, Buffalo has paid abuse survivors more than $175 million through a victim's compensation fund.

Scharfenberger will tend to both dioceses simultaneously until Malone's successor is appointed, the Albany diocese said.

Both the Federal Bureau of Investigation and New York State Office of The Attorney General are investigating clergy abuse and cover ups in the Buffalo diocese, according to the Buffalo News.

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