Buffalo Pastor to Parishioners: Bishop Malone Must Resign

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by Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th.  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  September 3, 2019   

Fr. Robert Zilliox: 'I did in fact call and demand that Bp. Malone resign'

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EAST AMHERST, N.Y. (ChurchMilitant.com) - A pastor in the diocese of Buffalo is telling his parishioners that Buffalo's Bp. Richard Malone must resign.

Father Robert Zilliox, pastor at St. Mary's Catholic Church in East Amherst, New York, told his parishioners on Sunday, Aug. 25, that Malone needs to step down and leave the diocese entirely. Church Militant reached out to Zilliox who confirmed and clarified his statement.

"Yes, I can and will confirm that I, in fact, did call and demand that Bp. Malone resign and leave the diocese of Buffalo immediately," Zilliox told Church Militant.

The pastor added, "I take responsibility for my comments and do not wish to retract them."

This isn't the first time Zilliox opened up to his parishioners about the ongoing scandal of clergy sex abuse. During a Sunday vigil Mass at St. Mary's in October, he revealed to churchgoers that he also had been abused by a priest as a teenager.

"I am a victim of abuse by a priest," said Zilliox. "I know what it's like to be hurt. To have one's dignity stripped away."

He then informed his congregation that he'd been interviewed by the CBS national news magazine 60 Minutes and the interview would be airing the following day on Sunday, Oct. 21.

"You can get mad at me," said Zilliox, "but I did an interview with 60 Minutes."

In his recent comments to Church Militant, Zilliox referenced that interview.

"Context — one year ago I agreed to do the 60 Minutes interview," remarked Zilliox, "and stated clearly at the end, 'I forgive Bp. Malone, but actions speak louder than words. Show me you are serious about restoring the trust of the faithful.'"

During the interview with 60 Minutes, Zilliox was critical of Malone's gross mishandling of the priestly sex abuse scandal. As the bishop's canonical advisor, Zilliox had counseled Malone to remove several abusive priests from the priesthood but was ignored.

"A lot of cases probably should have gone to Rome at the time," noted Zilliox. "They did not."

The diocese is unequivocally in worse shape today than it was a year ago!

When asked on the show how many priests should have been taken out of the priesthood, Zilliox responded, "eight or nine." Zilliox was then asked how many of these were still in the priesthood.

"All of them," replied Zilliox. "All of the guys that should have been removed from the priesthood are still priests."

Malone took Zilliox to task for his statements saying Zilliox misrepresented the status of these accused priests. Zilliox issued a statement on Nov. 9 clarifying and affirming his comments.

When interviewed by 60 Minutes, I referred to eight or nine priests in the Buffalo Diocese who remain "in the priesthood," but should have been removed from the priesthood, or in canonical terms removed from the "clerical state." The Diocese then released a statement which misleadingly characterized this reference as an assertion that those priests are in "active ministry." I did not use that term.

Zilliox explained the following aspects of the clerical state still apply to priests even after being removed from active ministry:

  • They are still priests
  • They remain under the authority of the bishop
  • They continue to receive financial support
  • They continue to be the legal responsibility of the diocese

As Malone's former adviser, Zilliox said he was most disgusted by the hypocritical manner with which the diocese mishandled many cases of clergy sex abuse.

"I think the hypocrisy, the lip service, you know, the, 'Yes, Bob, I agree with you,' and then I would walk out of an office and nothing would happen," remarked Zilliox.

Zilliox left his advisory role with the diocese in May to be a fulltime pastor to his flock at St. Mary's. But he told Church Militant that his recent call for Malone to step down was owing to Malone's continued mishandling of the sex abuse scandal that is only getting worse in the Buffalo diocese.

"Here we are one year later," commented Zilliox, "and the diocese is unequivocally in worse shape today than it was a year ago! Thus, my most recent demands!"

 

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