The fact that a laywoman and two clerics are blowing the whistle on the cover-up of clerical sex abuse by the diocese of Buffalo shows once again that bishops are more concerned with protecting Church assets rather than with helping victims.
Not only did Bp. Richard Malone's secretary, Siobhan O'Connor, speak out Sunday on 60 Minutes, but so did Malone's legal advisor, Fr. Bob Zilliox, as well as Buffalo's Deacon Paul Snyder. Snyder was the first clergyman to call for Malone's resignation in August. O'Connor and Snyder spoke again the following day on CBS This Morning.
Snyder says the act of O'Connor leaking sensitive documents to the media gave clerics the courage they needed to follow suit.
"Clergy were afraid to speak out," explained Snyder. "They were afraid of retribution by the bishop. They didn't know Siobhan was the whistleblower, but they and I thought she had brass and felt she had the kind of courage that we should follow."
Snyder is also affirming that the cover-up of clerical sex abuse is not something that happened decades ago, but rather, is going on now in Buffalo.
"We're living in a time in Buffalo where the type of activities that have taken place we thought only occurred 70 years ago, 40 years ago," related Snyder. "These abuses have happened now."
It took several months before O'Connor realized that Malone would put assets ahead of helping victims and would use the cover-up of priestly sex abuse as a means to that end. She then understood that going public was her only option.
It all started in February when Fr. Norbert Orsolits, a retired priest accused of sex abuse, admitted publicly to abusing dozens of boys. Following public outcry, Buffalo set up a victim's compensation fund and urged victims of clerical sex abuse to come forward. The problem, noted O'Connor, was that the victims' hotline went straight to voicemail.
"That number was attached to a phone in an unoccupied office in one of the suburbs of Buffalo," relates O'Connor. "The victims' assistance coordinator was many miles south in the southern tier at her office and she would dial in remotely to get those messages."
Abuse victims, tired of getting only an answering machine, started calling the diocese instead. O'Connor then started fielding these calls. This is when she became aware of the tremendous suffering of the victims and also of the lack of concern shown to them by the diocese.
Watch the panel discuss the need for whistleblowers in The Download—Exposing Evil in Buffalo.