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St. Bonaventure president latest to call for Buffalo bishop's resignation

St. Bonaventure University President Dennis R. DePerro is the latest high-profile Catholic in Western New York urging Bishop Richard J. Malone to resign  over his handling of clergy sexual abuse allegations.

DePerro released a statement on Friday saying that Malone “hasn’t been transparent enough along the way for Catholics in Western New York to continue to have confidence in his leadership” and asking the bishop to step down.

He joins other prominent Catholics such as Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, Rep. Brian Higgins and Paul Snyder, a deacon and businessman, in calling for Malone’s resignation. Hochul, Higgins and Snyder made public statements last August urging the bishop to step aside and let someone else lead the diocese.

“No organization in today’s world — including the Catholic Church — is exempt from accountability,” DePerro said. “I believe that a good leader would recognize that moment and step down.”

The Buffalo Diocese has been in the grips of a clergy sex abuse scandal for more than a year, sparked by a retired priest's 2018 admission to The News that he had molested "probably dozens" of boys in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

DePerro said he believes Malone is a “good person spiritually.”

“But the reality is that we’re not healing. We’re not restoring trust,” he said. “I admire his unflinching desire to repair the damage this crisis has caused, but sometimes, the most courageous thing a man can do is to step aside and recognize that his voice is no longer being heard and that he’s standing in the way of creating true resolution.”

Parishioners pack a Mass at All Saints Church in Lockport in this Feb. 3, 2008 file photo.  The Catholic Diocese of Buffalo Bishop Richard J. Malone says donations to Catholic Charities annual fundraising drive are not being used to compensate clergy sexual abuse victims. But donations from parishioners throughout the diocese are used to pay insurance premiums and settle insurance claims. (File photo/Harry Scull Jr./The Buffalo News)

Malone has repeatedly said he will not step down until he submits his resignation to the Vatican on his 75th birthday in March 2021.

A spokeswoman for the diocese said Friday afternoon that Malone was "disappointed and dismayed" with DePerro's comments and that the St. Bonaventure president hadn't fully studied the diocese's protocols for handling abuse cases.

"For example, the name of Fr. Gervase White, OFM, a beloved member of the St. Bonaventure community, was improperly revealed on television even though the allegation against him does not involve child abuse and cannot be investigated because Fr. Gervase died 17 years ago," Kathy Spangler, the spokeswoman, said in an emailed statement.  "Following established protocols, the diocese intentionally did not publicize that allegation.  The bishop has received helpful input from others, including the president of Canisius College and other members of the Movement to Restore Trust, on how diocesan procedures might be improved.  The bishop would have welcomed and still would accept such input from Dr. DePerro, but to criticize the bishop for following established protocols is unjust.”

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