Bishop Richard J. Malone Wednesday told a TV news reporter that he does not give too much credence to polls, in response to a recent one by The Buffalo News that found nearly 86% of local Catholics think he should resign as head of the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo.
"I was not, of course, happy to see that, but I've learned over the years not to give too much credence to polls," he told WGRZ's Steve Brown in a one-on-one interview.
"There's so many, you know, so much wiggle room in how polls are done, and what are people thinking when they respond to a poll?" Malone added.
During the WGRZ interview, the bishop said he could not account for those who were included in the poll. He said some of the respondents may have been lapsed Catholics, those who disagree with the Catholic Church's positions on controversial moral and political issues — such as abortion — and some who just may not like his personality.
In terms of gauging his own level of support among the Catholic faithful, Malone said he depended more upon internal groups, like the Diocesan Pastoral Council, a group of mostly lay members of the church that represents a broad cross-section of the diocese.
Malone said the group of 31 members — including a priest and a nun — met Saturday to take a vote on whether or not he should resign as bishop.
"So they debated for about 20 minutes, and when I came back in, they told me that the result was that 24 had voted in favor of my not resigning — my staying. Four had voted for me to resign, and one abstention. And these are people with whom I work on a regular basis on diocesan issues and challenges," Malone told Brown at WGRZ.
"So something like that, for me, counter-balances because these are people who know me well," he added.
The bishop said that the wording of the poll question did not suggest to him that respondents were being asked whether he should resign over his reported handling of the sex abuse controversy in the church.
"What I saw was … do you think the bishop should resign?" Malone told Brown during the interview. "Let's think about that for a minute. There could be many, many, many reasons, even apart from the horror of the abuse crisis, why some people would want me to resign."
Malone said a letter signed by 12 priests calling for his resignation represents only a fraction of the 391 priests in the diocese, a majority of whom the bishop said he thinks support him.
Story topics: Clergy sex cases