BUFFALO, N.Y. (ChurchMilitant.com) - Cardinal Timothy Dolan of the archdiocese of New York is expected to weigh in on calls for Bp. Richard Malone of the Buffalo diocese to resign.
As metropolitan under the new rules of Vos Estis Lux Mundi set forth by Pope Francis in May, Dolan is responsible for the Buffalo diocese and must address the scandals and mishandling of allegations of sex abuse cases leveled against Bp. Malone.
Vos Estis Lux Mundi ("You are the light of the world" in Latin) establishes procedural norms to combat sexual abuse and to ensure that bishops and religious superiors are held accountable for their actions.
"Cardinal Dolan is very aware of his responsibilities as Metropolitan under Vos estis," Joseph Zwilling, spokesman for the New York archdiocese, said, adding he expects hearing from the cardinal about the matter in "in the near future."
DEVELOPING: The latest involving @BuffaloDiocese finds the Archdiocese of New York & Cardinal Timothy Dolan monitoring events. While he has been doing that for months, a spokesman says expect some sort of development in the near future, but would not elaborate. @SPECNewsBuffalo pic.twitter.com/TX4LMgvzBh— Mark Goshgarian (@Mark_Goshgarian) September 9, 2019
Bishop Malone's problems have piled up over the months — intensifying in the past weeks, specifically after secret audiotapes were published by the 7 Eyewitness News I-Team in Buffalo on Sept. 4 that reveal Bp. Malone's cover-up of clerical abuse.
"We are in a true crisis situation," Malone can be heard saying on the audio recordings to his then-secretary Fr. Ryszard Biernat. "True crisis. And everyone in the office is convinced this could be the end for me as bishop. It could force me to resign if in fact they make a story."
"I think we're gonna blow this story up into something like an atom bomb if we start talking about that. You know?" Malone continues. "'Cause then it sounds like, it sounds like a soap opera. It sounds like a love triangle. And you know what the media can do with that."
Malone is referring to the harassment of Christ the King seminarian Matthew Bojanowski by Fr. Jeffrey Nowak with Biernat also the object of Nowak's attention. Nowak appeared jealous of Bojanowski's and Biernat's friendship.
Although Malone knew of allegations against Nowak, he kept him in place as pastor at Our Lady Help of Christians in Cheektowaga, New York, without notifying parishioners.
Bojanowski is also the seminarian who publicly quit scandal-ridden Christ the King Seminary in August, announcing at a press conference that Malone failed to address Fr. Nowak's inappropriate behavior.
"No actions were taken to stop Fr. Nowak's malicious and relentless retaliation," Bojanowski said at the press conference. Malone referred to Nowak as "a sick puppy" on the audiotapes.
Bojanowski's move came just days after Stephen Parisi, dean of seminarians at Christ the King Seminary, resigned his post because of an "alarming" climate of "blackmail" and "continual cover-up" of sex abuse.
Petitions are circulating calling on Diocese of Buffalo Bishop Richard J. Malone to resign for his handling of the sex abuse scandal in the diocese, one among the clergy of the diocese and the other among the people.https://t.co/UhN05qUMKC— 7 Eyewitness News (@WKBW) September 8, 2019
Buffalo clergy and laity have demanded that Bp. Malone resign. Father Robert Zilliox, pastor at St. Mary's Catholic Church in East Amherst, New York, is circulating a "no confidence" letter among diocesan clergy that demands Malone and Edward Grosz, auxiliary bishop of Buffalo, step down.
Laity too have been vociferous about Malone stepping down, even demanding the return of donations to the "Upon this Rock" campaign, "a strategic initiative designed to impact parishes as well as reshape the way the Church funds key ministries and programs for the future."
On Sept. 6, Movement to Restore Trust (MRT), a group of powerful and influential Catholics formed in 2018 to assert the laity's rightful role in the Church, contacted Bp. Malone asking that he resign immediately:
We make this request of Bishop Malone with a degree of humility and sadness. We had embarked upon our work with the hope that we could be a catalyst for reform and the restoration of trust of the faithful in the diocese. While we have made some progress toward that goal by working with Bishop Malone and the Joint Implementation Team, recent events and disclosures have led us to conclude that the diocese is at a critical point and that further progress is not possible. We believe that continuing to press forward under these circumstances jeopardizes MRT's comprehensive reform agenda and compromises our ability to be agents for positive change.
It is this scandal-hit environment that Cdl. Dolan must bear in mind as he makes his decision about Bp. Malone in accordance with Vos Estis Lux Mundi.
Church Militant explained in May that Vos Estis Lux Mundi places the metropolitan archbishop in charge of any investigation into allegations of abuse by brother bishops.
The metropolitan's power is near-total, and he is given authority to reject a claim and drop the investigation. If the metropolitan believes a claim is founded, he is charged with overseeing all aspects of an investigation. The motu proprio came into force on June 1 and remains effective for a three-year experimental period.
The new reform law Pope Francis enacted to hold bishops accountable for clergy sexual abuse and cover-up will be put to the test in New York as Cdl. Dolan decides what to say and do about Malone's predicament and the appeals for his resignation.
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