BUFFALO, NY (WBFO) – Buffalo’s Bishop Richard Malone says comes away from the meeting of U.S. bishops in Baltimore “astonished, shocked and dismayed” that action was not taken on priest abuse. However, he believes the Vatican’s postponement may be because of the global nature of the crisis.
Malone was among those who attended this week’s U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which was supposed to include a vote on several measures to address clerical misconduct. Instead, Pope Francis postponed action until the world’s Episcopal presidents meet in February.
“We had come here with every intention to have some robust discussion on standards of accountability for bishops and all these kinds fo things, a third-party reporting system where people could, if they knew a bishop, sadly, that had abused, how that could be reported independently of the church – a lot of very important steps forward for transparency,” Malone told WBFO, “and we were all shocked to know that the Vatican had said we could not have a vote on these things.”
Malone acknowledged priests who have “sinned” over the centuries, but did not acknolwedge a culture of secrecy being managed within the church, which some have accused of fostering ongoing abuse.
“If there has been, hopefully, that culture of secrecy will be blown out of the water by this global crisis that we’re in, which I think may be the reason why the Vatican told us to hold off on a vote.”
Malone said all the actions taken at “high levels,” plus local efforts will lead to “deeper integrity” in the church and “better care for victims.”
The local actions Malone noted were his apologies for “missteps” handling priests who abused adults, the task force “of competent laity” he established to create a protocol for handling accusations of clerical misconduct with adults, the code of conduct for abuse of minors and the new Movement to Restore Trust in the church by lay Catholics.
“They have every right as baptized Catholics lay people to come together and to try to come up with a response to this crisis and I told (Canisius College) President (John) Hurley – he gave me a head’s up on the formation of this group – and I emailed him back and I said that you people need neither my affirmation or my approval, but you have both,” Malone said. “Just so you know, I’m supportive.”