In a letter to be read this weekend at Masses throughout the Buffalo Diocese, Bishop Richard J. Malone apologized to victims of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy and for his own failures in addressing the abuse – but reiterated that he won't step down.
"First, I must apologize," Malone said in the letter, which was on the diocese website Saturday. "I apologize once again to those innocent victims who were abused by priests who committed crimes and grave sins. I also apologize for any of my own failures in adequately addressing that abuse."
Malone said many of the recent criticisms of church leadership are justified, but after considering all of this, "I am convinced that I must continue to lead our diocese forward as your bishop and face this crisis together with clergy, religious and laity."
"Leaving this diocese in the middle of this daunting challenge would probably be easier for me personally, but I intend to meet it in the best way I can for the next few years, until my retirement in 2021 is accepted by the Holy Father," the letter from Malone continued.
The letter came after State Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood last week launched a statewide investigation into sexual abuse of children by Catholic clergy, with a particular focus on the Buffalo diocese.
The Attorney General's Office Thursday sent out subpoenas, seeking information from seven dioceses and one archdiocese across the state.
Several prominent Catholics – including businessman Paul L. Snyder III, who serves as a deacon, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul and Rep. Brian Higgins – called for Malone to resign in the wake of a leak of internal church documents to WKBW-TV, showing that Malone allegedly kept two priests in ministry despite complaints of misconduct. Malone has said he won't resign.
In his letter, Malone went on to outline some of the recent changes – including establishing a new task force to recommend better methods for honoring the adults who were abused and a new office of professional responsibility.
"I know that some will not be satisfied with these changes and that some may question, based on my past inadequacies, whether I have the capacity or the will to punish abusers and to protect the innocent," Malone wrote. "All I can do is promise you that my heart is in this struggle and that, with the help of God's grace, I will make every effort to steer this diocese through this time of trial."
Story topics: Clergy sex cases