|St. Joseph Cathedral in Buffalo, N.Y. (David Duprey).|
It is almost 18 years since the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal was blown wide open by the Boston Globe in 2002, yet the leadership of the Church has still not come to grips with ending the causes that gave rise to the scandal in the first place: (i) the requirement that priests - at least in western rite churches - be celibate, (ii) a mindset where cover ups to supposedly protect the image of the Church outweigh protecting children and youths, and (iii) the Church's 12th century dogma concerning sexuality and a near obsession with all things sexual. Meanwhile, little has been done to weed out bishops and cardinals who were either sexual predators themselves or who willingly participated in cover ups of abuse and protected predator priests. In Buffalo, New York, public pressure and media exposure have seemingly forced the Vatican's hand in the removal of Buffalo bishop Richard J. Malone. Too many bishops and cardinals like Malone remain in their bishoprics and the Church continues its anti-LGBT jihad and refusal to accept normal human sexuality. Locally, it was only this year that Virginia Beach's Catholic High School had the name of former Richmond bishop Walter Sullivan removed from its name due to Sullivan's protection of predatory priests. A piece in the Washington Post looks at the forces and ugly cover ups that led to Malone's removal. Here are highlights:
The Vatican on Wednesday announced the resignation of Bishop Richard J. Malone, who stoked fury in his Buffalo diocese for the alleged mishandling of sexual abuse claims, and whose tenure became emblematic of the Catholic Church’s struggle to overcome its central crisis.Under Malone’s watch, Buffalo had become perhaps the U.S. Church’s most scandal-tainted diocese. It faces an FBI probe and more than 200 lawsuits. Malone pledged to institute reforms, but he was instead battered by accusations of coverup and by embarrassing leaks. One whistleblower said she found a 300-page dossier on accused priests hidden away in a supply closet near a vacuum cleaner.
Malone, 73, is departing two years before the mandatory age at which bishops must offer their retirements to Pope Francis — though many prelates stay on the job beyond the 75-year mark. The Vatican did not explain the reasons for Malone’s resignation.
Malone’s case offers mixed signals about how the Vatican is dealing with bishops accused of negligence or coverup and whether changes drawn up by Francis will help the institution police its upper ranks.
The Vatican did not use a system, put in place by the pontiff earlier this year, that would have allowed the region’s top bishop — in this case, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York — to open an investigation. Instead, in something of an ad hoc measure, the Vatican dispatched a different prelate, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, on a “nonjudicial” fact-finding mission to Buffalo.
The Associated Press reported last month that DiMarzio himself is facing accusations of sexually abusing a child. DiMarzio denies the allegations.
In September, a Buffalo television station broadcast audio, secretly recorded by the bishop’s priest-secretary, in which the bishop worried about what might happen if the sexual harassment accusations that a seminarian had leveled against a priest became public.
“This could be the end for me as bishop,” Malone said in the leaked recording.
But the situation was even more convoluted. The seminarian, Matthew Bojanowski, accused Malone of failing to take actions against the parish priest. Meantime, news outlets obtained a letter from the bishop’s priest-secretary to Bojanowski that suggested the two had a romantic relationship.
The local congressman called on Malone to resign. So too did a council of prominent Catholics. A petition calling for Malone’s departure gathered more than 12,000 signatures, accusing him of deceit and for being a “silent accomplice” to the crimes of priests. A Buffalo News poll in September said that 86 percent of Catholics wanted him to resign. Picketers had followed the bishop to recent events, and the newspaper reported that the diocese had ceased publishing the bishop’s event calendar.
The problems for Malone escalated early in 2018 when an initial accuser came forward, describing molestation as a teenager at the hands of a priest. A wellspring of abuse complaints followed, and in March 2018, Malone released a list of 42 priests who had been credibly accused of abuse, mostly from earlier decades. But it was anything but full transparency: Malone’s former administrative assistant had seen an earlier draft of the list. It contained more than 100 names.
Going public to “60 Minutes” last year, the former administrative assistant, Siobhan O’Connor, accused Malone of wiping some of the most problematic names from the public record. One of the missing names was that of a priest who had been accused of inappropriately touching two boys. According to the “60 Minutes” report, Malone endorsed that priest for a job as a cruise ship chaplain.
To be clear, the Catholic Church does not have a monopoly on sex abuse by clergy. The Southern Baptist Convention - another stridently anti-LGBT denomination - has a huge problem with abusive pastors which the denomination continually tries to sweep under the rug. Meanwhile, Patheos reports this:
Popular Alabama televangelist Acton Bowen pleads guilty to 28 charges of raping and sexually assaulting multiple children between the ages of 12 and 16. Before his arrest in 2018, Bowen was the host of xlroads TV, a global broadcast reaching millions every week.