Gov. Andrew Cuomo did not join in the calls for Buffalo Diocese Bishop Richard J. Malone to resign, but said Malone should consider it if he's lost the support of Western New York Catholics.
"I don’t know the facts well enough," Cuomo said Tuesday when asked by The Buffalo News if Malone should step down.
"I do know that in that calculation he would have to determine if he has lost the faith of his congregation. Because that’s relevant. To lead you need the trust of your congregation. And that is a very real factor," he said while meeting with The News' editorial board.
Referring to a Buffalo News poll in which 86% of Catholics said Malone should resign, the governor said, "You guys had a poll that among Catholics that I think called for his resignation. That I think is a relevant factor."
Last year, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, Rep. Brian Higgins, several local politicians and businessman Paul Snyder called on Malone to resign over his handling of a clergy sexual abuse crisis.
In April, St. Bonaventure President Dennis DePerro called for Malone to step down. More recently, a group of prominent Catholics called the Movement to Restore Trust called on Malone to resign, following the publication of secret recordings which suggested the bishop tried to keep a lid on an alleged sexual harassment by a priest of an adult seminarian and on another priest’s love letter to the seminarian.
Malone maintained at a Sept. 4 news conference that although he “hadn’t taken a poll” of local Catholics, he believed the majority stood behind him.
The Buffalo News poll of 473 Catholics or lapsed Catholics from Erie and Niagara counties suggested otherwise. Fewer than 3% of those surveyed said Malone should stay on as bishop. About 12% were undecided.
Cuomo did talk about one other issue involving the Catholic Church, his signing into law the Child Victims Act earlier this year, which opened a one-year window for childhood sexual abuse victims to sue abusers and their employers for incidents that previously were time-barred.
More than 130 Child Victims Act lawsuits have been filed against the Buffalo Diocese since Aug. 14.
"That I think was a good law, as the results have show," Cuomo said. "It’s problematic to the church. But it’s called justice, you know."