BUFFALO, N.Y. (ChurchMilitant.com) - Apparently oblivious to recent criticism of his handling of multiple cases of rampant illegal activities and other improprieties in the Buffalo diocese, Bp. Richard Malone most recently has been reported turning a tin ear to a sexual abuse victim's attempt priest to speak at the bishop's listening session.
Additionally, he has reinstated three priests sidelined two months ago for engaging in sexually charged and lewd conversation with several seminarians.
Malone took heat from Church Militant and many members of his diocese when he reinstated Fr. Joseph Gatto in May. Gatto had been credibly accused of making unwanted homosexual advances in at least two instances and was found guilty by the diocese.
He was also accused of soliciting sexual favors from young men in return to granting them admittance to seminary. Despite the severity of the charges, Malone reinstated Gatto, sparking public outrage.
Yet, Malone garnered more negative headlines in late June for similarly egregious official behavior. For example, Buffalo's WKBW reported that a June 27 listening session arranged for Malone by the Catholic lay organization the bishop-endorsed Movement to Restore Trust (MRT) fell short of its goals when sex abuse victim Sarah Ann Shiley was denied the opportunity to speak.
According to WKBW, Shiley requested permission in advance to speak at the event, but was told, "It is not appropriate for you to have a formal spot on the agenda for the listening session tomorrow night as the flow and agenda for the session has been planned for some time."
Shiley alleges she was sexually abused by Fr. Gerald B. Sheehan more than 200 times when she was a child. Denying her the opportunity to speak at the listening session seemed baked into the MRT agenda.
The format of the listening sessions has been criticized by some as too rigid or even an attempt to "control the message" with the sessions filled with many Catholics who are friendly to the bishop or who have been picked to serve on diocesan committees.
"It was very structured," Shiley said. "They provided the agenda — they timed anyone who spoke out."
On June 29, WKBW reported Malone was ending enforcement of the leave of absence penalty imposed upon three priests who made obscene remarks to seminarians at a pizza party held in Hamburg, New York, in April.
Fathers Art Mattulke, Bob Orlowski and Patrick O'Keefe offended seminarians with vulgar conversation regarding homosexual sex, masturbation and even one priest describing overhearing a seminarians' parents making love.
Among other examples of the extent of the pornographic conversation was the depiction of a priest who frequented truck stops to perform fellatio and ending with the revelation "consuming the ejaculate was like communion for him."
Malone told WKBW he consulted with the diocese's director of personal responsibility, senior staff members and others involved in Church leadership. Because none of the disciplined priests physically accosted the seminarians, the two-month leave of absence and retraining in the diocese's code of conduct was deemed adequate punishment.
Malone's professional history is rife with charges he underreported the number of priests or covered up for clergy members credibly charged with sexual abuse of children, beginning with his tenure as apostolic administrator of the Catholic diocese in Portland, Maine.
In October 2018, Malone's former secretary, Siobhan O'Connor, was featured as a whistleblower on WKBW and a damning special report on the CBS network's news magazine, 60 Minutes.