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Buffalo and the silence of the bishops

We wanted to go back to the good old days, the happy time, when ignorance was bliss and Father could be trusted and the Bishop was a smiling cipher. What we have is Bishop Richard Malone.

Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo, N.Y., is seen at the headquarters of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington Jan. 17. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

US Attorneys contacted the diocese of Buffalo, NY, in late May, to inform officials of their interest in documents related to abuse reports after 1990 and therefore susceptible of prosecution under federal criminal statutes. Terrence M. Connors, attorney for the Diocese of Buffalo, clarified the chronological point in remarks to reporters during a press conference at Infant of Prague parish, Cheektowaga, on Monday evening.

Charlie Specht, the chief investigative reporter for Buffalo’s ABC affiliate, WKBW, first reported the May date in mid-October, but this is the first time any agent or official of the Buffalo diocese has publicly confirmed the report.

The point of chronology is significant, since it means the news regarding federal criminal probes that has been coming in cascade since October is not, in fact, merely a response to the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report. It gives the lie to narrative presumptions of reaction on the part of opportunistic prosecutors eager to strike while the iron is hot.

US attorneys wrote to the US Conference of Catholic Bishops in early October to instruct the Conference to advise chanceries throughout the country to keep their files, and not to destroy them. Nevertheless, this reckoning is a long time coming.

We should have known it would come to this. The writing was on the wall in 2002, when the bishops gave themselves a pass. The vote to change the language of the Dallas Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People so it exempted bishops was a sign in flaming letters: Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin. If the judgment was meant for the bishops, the message was written for us, the laity, as well.

We did not see the words written. We did not want to. We wanted normal.

We wanted to go back to the good old days, the happy time, when ignorance was bliss and Father could be trusted and the Bishop was a smiling cipher who confirmed our children and otherwise did neither good nor harm in any way we could discern, or cared to. We wanted what we knew, which was little, and we wanted all of it.

What we have is Bishop Richard J. Malone, standing at a makeshift podium in a tricked-out parish gym and saying — with a straight face — “I don’t think I lack empathy [for victims of clerical sexual abuse],” and then, “I don’t avoid meeting victims at all. I want them to call — I don’t want to be ambushed, either by you people [i.e. journalists] or a victim.”

That was right before Bishop Malone called his auxiliary, Edward Grosz, to the podium to offer, “Perhaps the person [who claims never to have heard from the bishop or his office after complaining of abuse] didn’t go through the proper channels.” Bishop Grosz handles much of the paperwork and bureaucracy for his principal in abuse cases.

This is not normal. This is not even close to normal, though the silence of bishops in the face of manifest evil is commonplace these days. They will not denounce Malone — though they tried to scapegoat Uncle Ted McCarrick and they failed — nor will they defend him. As a body, the bishops too often behave as men devoid of sense, and destitute of shame.

Not a single one of Bishop Malone’s confreres has publicly corrected him, let alone called for his resignation. We continue to hear from some quarters the pious platitudes about the “good bishops” who love their people. If one of them were good, he would denounce his brethren for their cravenness. He would rend his vestments. He would don sackcloth and ashes and do penance. He would say what he knows, or reasonably suspects.

Who is that man?

The evidence suggests their mitred highnesses are all terrified: of losing their place? No. Of being found out? No, again. Nor is their fear for what may befall them, should they keep silence. It is for what might befall them, should they speak. They are afraid of being expelled from the club — or worse — having spoken, of becoming a pariah within it.

May we reasonably hope for any good from their Fall Meeting? Their silence bespeaks a general pusillanimity, unbecoming men ordained to be shepherds for God’s holy flock and high priests blameless in His sight, ministering to Him night and day. The worst are quite possibly criminal. To continue to place any sort of trust in this Quisling brotherhood is folly. It is maudlin. It is morally criminal.

Let one of them — one — stand up and say he shall no longer be a part of this fiasco. Let one of them own the crisis without stint, for all the brethren, come what may. Let one of them raise his voice and cry out, Ecce adsum!

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About Christopher R. Altieri 198 Articles
Christopher R. Altieri is a journalist, editor and author of three books, including Reading the News Without Losing Your Faith (Catholic Truth Society, 2021). He is contributing editor to Catholic World Report.


  1. Nov. 7th: I don’t think there are many who long for the ‘good old days’ – but I don’t understand why each and every Bishop is not speaking out about this abuse – financial and sexual. It is not ‘massive’ but it is enough. We should ask every Bishop to speak publicly about this – to demand that Malone step down and others like him. Here’s what I believe might help all the Bishops: devoid yourselves of your fancy attire: get rid of all the expensive miters, flowing robes, expensive rings and Crosses and just wear a simple cassock with a Crucifix denoting your rank. Get rid of all the “your excellencies” etc…and stop considering yourselves as ‘princes’ of the Church…Jesus was a carpenter who often had nowhere to lay His head; He lived simply and was constantly on the move, always among His people. No member of the clergy should be living in luxurious homes or apartments…it is said that Cdl. Wuerl lives in a luxurious penthouse apartment in Washington and that he is spending money to make it even more luxurious. Until Catholics band together and demand that all this luxurious living cease, nothing will change. Demand that your donations be used wisely and also that a financial oversight committee be put together in every Parish so that no one will be able to spend massive sums of Parishioners’ money on their own personal pursuits whether that be grand housing, expensive cars and vacations, etc. If Catholics don’t stand up and speak out in every parish in the country, then nothing will change.

    • AMEN! AND AMEN! to that, Florence!. Your words are like a “voice crying out in the wilderness!” I am a 63 year old belly button Catholic boy, who raised six children, and I have for years been advocating exactly what you have succinctly said in your comment. I just can’t imagine our blessed Jesus, the humble Lamb of God, who came to take away the sins of the world, and who allowed himself to be stripped of his clothing so as to be naked to the world during his ignoble crucifixion, would allow himself to be attired in such garments as our Bishops do nowadays, or for the past centuries for that matter. And the titlements that they allow to themselves are equally an affront to our Lord and Saviour, who, when told he was good, replied, “Do not call me good, for there is only alone who is good, and that is our Father in Heaven”. Wow, now our Lord’s words there alone should have any Bishop down through the ages and especially now, to disavow any titles such as “Your Excellency” or “Your Imminence” or “Most Reverend” or “Your Holiness”. So, yes, Florence, I do believe that what you say has great merit to it.

    • Florence, these people have been buggering altar boys for many decades, and it has nothing to do with wearing robes, or being called excellency.
      I live in this diocese, and I recently discussed this with my mother, who is in her 80s. Her response was “finally after 75 years!”.
      These people as a group are infiltrators. We all see plainly what they have accomplished.

    • Nobody has sex with young teenagers because they wear robes. stop trying to shift the blame from homoseexuality to what they wear. Nonsense.

  2. Geez, I really dont get the hyperventilation in this article. I believe the Federal Statute of Limitations is generally 5 years, which is most certainly not back to 1990. And under our constitution, the states are supposed to hold the police powers, not the Feds. So this really is just the US attorneys piling on. Shame on them
    Also, I can see why the Bishop might not think an “ambush” was the best way to contact him, though it may have been the only way if “going through channels” didnt work. But there is certainly nothing wrong with introducing the proper person.

  3. A gigantic problem here vis a vis bishops criticizing another individual bishop is the very long standing understanding that each bishop is in his own domain and only the Pope has the right, authority to admonish an individual bishop. No bishop wants to be regaled by his peers and is nicely protected by this policy. Even the bishops’s conferences adhere to this understanding. So there is no adequate disciplinary possibilities other than the Vatican and the past 50 yrs or so clearly shows that even the Vatican is reluctant to act. Recall Holthausen in Seattle, Weakland in Madison, and several other clearly dissident bishops re doctrine. Little or no actions taken, and such behaviors allowed to go on and one, a la the McCarrick thing. A bishop or a group of bishops will not call out another bishop, unless the deviant bishop’s behavior is made public by the press, etc. Then a few might offer comments, but not before the thing is public.
    And that lack of discipline clearly sent the message to all the abusers that nobody really cares—have at it!
    It would seem this policy of not criticizing a misbehaving bishop by another bishop has to be changed. In some degree, Archbishop Vigano has initiated the change, as did Cardinal Oulet in essentially called Vigano a liar. We’ll see……..

  4. I actually live in the Buffalo Diocese. Bishop Malone is an awesome bishop. Bishop Grosz is one of the holiest priests you’ll ever meet. There are four 24hr. adoration chapels within a 10 min. drive from my house and many more a little further away. We have 2 Latin Sunday masses. The schools that were run by liberal social justice nuns were all closed and Bishop Malone’s council of advisors are priests well known to me . They are the best of the best. I beg you to research and compare Buffalo as a diocese to what goes on in places such as Chicago or New York. We need to keep our bishop otherwise we might get stuck with a Tobin or Cupish

  5. Altieri’s call to arms Ecce Adsum is not likely to awake from somnolence our Hierarchy. African sleeping sickness is caused by a mosquito transmitted virus. The US bishops’ somnolence is different in kind. Moral. The author touched on the moral disease earlier regarding Carelessness. When we’re not convinced of the nature of the problem neither are we that there’s a problem. The former is confusion on whether homosexual behavior is really antithetical to Christianity apparent in what’s trending at the Vatican. The latter lack of conviction due to more than lack of Papal leadership, but more do to the Pontiff’s resolute quashing of Cardinal Di Nardo’s request for Papal authorization to initiate a serious investigation of the McCarrick affair and those prelates clergy involved. Archbishop Viganò’s repeated credible allegations brought all this to a head. Decapitated by the Pontiff by his own Silence, deflective actions, outright opposition. Reinforced by his shadow pontiff Cardinal Tucho Fernandez, “ARGENTINA, September 20, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – An Argentinian archbishop who is a close friend of Pope Francis has suggested that former U.S. nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò suffers from megalomania, a delusional mental illness ‘marked by feelings of personal omnipotence and grandeur’”.

  6. Most bishops are embarrassments to the Church and the Faith. They are not men of honor and the don’t behave like men period. They hide behind false accusations made years ago. Priests were exonerated and now face “new higher standards” that we will see and hear about when they meet this coming week. Most are quislings and weak men who will cave in to the media instead of standing with Jesus Christ who is the way, the truth and the life.

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