BUFFALO, NY – The Roman Catholic bishop of Buffalo, New York, on Sunday rejected calls to resign over his handling of sexual abuse allegations against the priests, saying: “the shepherd does not desert the flock” in difficult times.
Bishop Richard Malone said he will appoint a task force of clergy, laity, and “an elected official or two” to investigate how sexual abuse in the claims of adults to be treated.
The diocese released a list in March of 42 priests facing sexual abuse allegations. A Buffalo tv station reported last week that Malone allowed one accused priest to remain in his parish, and gave multiple opportunities to another who had been suspended by the previous bishop.
“I am deeply sorry for the pain that this has caused you,” Malone said at a Sunday press conference. “While there is nothing I can say to you can cure the pain of this tragic violation of the trust, as a bishop, I must extend my sincere apologies.”
Malone said the diocese would also create a new office of professional responsibility and to cooperate with the state attorney general’s office and local prosecutors, other possible research.
USA. Rep. Brian Higgins on Friday called for Malone’s resignation and asked for such a probe. The Democrat said there was “overwhelming evidence” Malone ” exhibited poor leadership and ignorance on children and others in danger.”
A local legislator and a business leader who serves as a church deacon, also called Malone to act in the past few days.
WKBW-TV reported that Malone, and the leaders of the church let the Rev. Robert Yetter remain as the pastor of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Swormville after three young men accused him of inappropriate touching.
The station reported that the diocese, under Malone, tried to hide information about Yetter and the other accused priest, the Rev. Art Smith , including the removal of their names from a government-released list of credibly accused clergy.
WKBW-TV reported Malone restored Smith soon after Pope Benedict XVI appointed him as bishop in May 2012, three years later, allowed Smith to administer the Eucharist and confessions to hear, despite the new allegations that he improperly touched two young men.
Malone’s predecessor, Bishop Edward Kmiec, originally suspended Smith after he allegedly told a Catholic school eighth grader “love you” via a Facebook message in 2011.
The rector of the school, the St. Mary of the Lake, wrote to the diocese that Smith was “a predator and a dog” of young children. Students referred to him as “The Creeper.”