– Catholic Herald, Rome – The Attorney General of the State of New York has filed a lawsuit against the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, NY, two former bishops, and the current Apostolic Administrator of the diocese, alleging they they covered up sexual misconduct allegations and misused charitable assets when they used them to support priests they allowed to remain clerics restricted from active ministry, rather than make them face trial for their alleged misconduct and possible dismissal from the clerical state.
The bishops named in the civil suit are Richard Malone, Buffalo’s long-serving auxiliary bishop, Edward Grosz, and the Bishop of Albany, Edward Scharfenberger, who is currently serving as a placeholder until Pope Francis appoints Malone’s successor.
“The Buffalo Diocese failed to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct by priests,” Attorney General Letitia James explained in a series of tweets on Monday. “Instead, they covered up credible claims and protected the accused priests by deeming them ‘unassignable’ or allowing them to retire or go on purported medical leave.”
Malone resigned almost exactly a year ago — on December 4th, 2019 — after years of intense and sustained public scrutiny. Veteran Vatican watchers expected Buffalo to be a testing ground for Pope Francis’s sweeping reform law, Vos estis lux mundi, which — on paper, at least — streamlined the process of investigating episcopal negligence and possible malfeasance.
Pope Francis, however, opted against a Vos estis investigation. He preferred a secret process called an Apostolic Visitation. The Catholic Herald reported that the Visitation, conducted by Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn, was not a perfectly orderly or regular affair.
A spokesman for the Diocese of Buffalo, Gregory Tucker, told ABC News the diocese would be “reviewing” the lawsuit and “weighing the Diocese’s response.”
Survivors of abuse in Buffalo reacted to the news with expressions like, “This is the day I ‘ve been waiting for,” as recounted by Charlie Specht, the investigative reporter for Buffalo local ABC affiliate, WKBW, who broke the story more than two years ago and kept on it even after the erstwhile leadership of the Church in Buffalo found themselves in the national spotlight.