WXXI AM News

Reports suggest Bishop Malone will resign Wednesday

Dec 3, 2019
Originally published on December 3, 2019 11:30 am

A journalist who has covered the Vatican for several news agencies is reporting that, according to numerous sources, Bishop Richard Malone will resign Wednesday and a temporary administrator has already been selected.

Rocco Palmo, who authors the blog Whispers in the Loggia, published the story late Monday afternoon. His report comes two and a half weeks after fellow Vatican correspondent Christopher Lamb delivered a similar report of an "imminent" resignation.

Malone denied Lamb's report, which came during the week the leader of the Diocese of Buffalo was among New York State's other bishops in Rome for their "ad limina" visit, which happens once every five years.

Palmo wrote in his report Monday: "After a year and a half of crisis and torment for the 570,000 Catholics of Western New York, the wait is over – on Wednesday, the diocese of Buffalo is set to fall vacant upon the resignation of Bishop Richard Malone in the wake of a staggering outbreak of scandals."

Palmo also reported that, according to multiple sources, Bishop Edward Scharfenberger of Albany will be named an apostolic administrator who will oversee the Diocese of Buffalo until a permanent successor is found.

Lamb, on Nov. 13 told WBFO's Dave Debo that "my only caution to your listeners and the people of Buffalo is that the wheels of the Vatican sometimes move very slowly. Just because a bishop has presented his resignation, or is about to resign, sometimes that can take some time."

The ad limina visit concluded with no announcements by the Vatican and Bishop Malone returned to Buffalo Nov. 17, though was escorted discreetly out the Buffalo Niagara International Airport to avoid a small group of protesters who had gathered at the terminal. NFTA officials explained they led the bishop out by an alternative exit as a matter of safety and security for a high-profile traveler.

Malone has faced heated criticism for his handling of a clergy sex abuse crisis, which was sparked in February 2018, when Michael Whalen stood on Main Street across the street from the diocesan offices, stating he had been abused during his youth by Fr. Norbert Orsolits. Orsolits later confessed to the Buffalo News the abuse of several minors. 

On Tuesday, the Buffalo News also reported that it has confirmed Malone is leaving, citing its own source. The newspaper calls it "early retirement," after an earlier report that Pope Francis was to accept Malone's resignation Wednesday.

Earlier this fall, the Holy See appointed Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn to conduct a Apostolic Visitation, during which several clergy and lay persons were interviewed. A report was to be submitted to the Vatican upon the completion of that visit. DiMarzio, subsequently, was accused of his own sexual misconduct.

The Diocese of Buffalo told WBFO it is not offering any comment at this time.

The diocese has been named in more than 200 lawsuits filed since New York State's Child Victims Act window of opportunity to revisit older cases opened in August.

WBFO's Marian Hetherly contributed to this report.

Copyright 2019 WBFO-FM 88.7. To see more, visit WBFO-FM 88.7.