Scrutiny Over Ousted Buffalo Bishop’s Retirement Plan

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by David Nussman  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  December 12, 2019   

Bp. Malone will likely get pension, benefits from diocese

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (ChurchMilitant.com) - Questions are being raised about retirement benefits for a bishop who resigned amid scandal.

Bishop Richard Malone resigned as head of the Buffalo diocese last week, following months of allegations involving sex abuse cover-up.

Now, locals are asking about the retirement benefits Malone will get, according to Buffalo News.

As bishop emeritus, Malone will most likely receive at least $1,900 a month in retirement benefits, according to guidelines from the U.S. bishops conference.

 

Alongside the recommended monthly stipend, the national conference advises dioceses to provide retired bishops with several other benefits "in fraternal charity and solicitude":

  • "Appropriate housing and board ... including the use of a private chapel and housekeeping assistance"
  • "Health and welfare benefits, including major medical and the full cost of medical and hospital care"
  • "An office with secretarial assistance commensurate with need"
  • "Transportation including an insured automobile for his use"
  • "Travel expenses" [for the bishop emeritus to attend "regional meetings, workshops and retreats," and "meetings of the USCCB," and the like] and
  • "Suitable funeral and burial"

Also recommended is that the retired bishop remain in the diocese.

It's unclear where Malone will live in his retirement. But he stated in a Dec. 4 letter announcing his resignation, "I intend to continue to live among you as Bishop Emeritus."

Other Questions

Buffalo locals are also raising questions about the fate of other diocesan personnel accused of partaking in abuse cover-ups.

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Auxiliary Bishop Edward Grosz

There is particular concern, Buffalo News states, about Aux. Bp. Edward Grosz.

Chancery priest Fr. Ryszard Biernat claimed in September that Bp. Grosz and Bp. Malone tried to blackmail him into silence after he reported abuse by another priest.

While there is no news of Grosz's stepping down, the auxiliary bishop is nearing his 75th birthday, which is when Church law requires him to offer his resignation to Pope Francis.

In the final year and a half of his tenure, Bp. Malone was widely criticized for the diocese's handling of clergy sexual abuse allegations. 

Buffalo priest Fr. Joseph Gatto was suspended from priestly ministry after two men accused him of making unwanted homosexual advances. Acknowledging that misconduct happened, Bp. Malone returned Fr. Gatto to active ministry in May after the priest underwent psychological treatment.

I intend to continue to live among you as Bishop Emeritus.

Under Malone's watch, Fr. Dennis Riter was reinstated to active ministry. Riter faced numerous allegations of sexually abusing underage boys — including a claim that he forced a six-year-old boy to perform oral sex.

In 2018, Bp. Malone's former diocesan secretary, Siobhan O'Connor, became a whistleblower, shedding light on the bishop's alleged mishandling of abuse claims. She left her job for the diocese and made copies of hundreds of documents from the bishop's secret files.

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Fr. Dennis Riter

O'Connor said of her decision to blow the whistle, "The reality of what I saw left me with no other option because, at the end of my life, I'm not going to answer to Bp. Malone, I am going to answer to God."

During Malone's final months in power, calls grow louder for him to step down. A local survey in September found that 86% of Catholics in the Buffalo area wanted Bp. Malone gone.

Father Robert Zilliox, a priest in the diocese, blasted Bp. Malone in a homily in late August, telling parishioners that the bishop needed to go.

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