In this Nov. 5, 2018 file photo, Bishop Richard Malone of Buffalo, speaks during a news conference in Cheektowaga, N.Y. Pope Francis on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2019, accepted Bishop Richard Malone’s resignation following widespread criticism over how he handled allegations of clergy sexual misconduct. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo, New York, and named Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger of Albany, New York, as Buffalo's apostolic administrator.

The changes were announced in Washington Dec. 4 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Bishop Malone has headed the Diocese of Buffalo since 2012. Pope Benedict XVI named him the 14th bishop of Buffalo May 29, 2012, and he was installed in August of that year. Bishop Scharfenberger, 71, has headed the Albany Diocese since 2014.

At age 73, Bishop Malone is two years shy of the age at which bishops are required by canon law to turn in their resignation to the pope. For more than a year, he has faced questions about how he has addressed the clergy sex abuse crisis, particularly a situation involving two priests' relationship with a seminarian that he has called "a very complex, convoluted matter."

In October, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn, New York, conducted an apostolic visitation of the western New York diocese. When Bishop DiMarzio was assigned by the Vatican to make the visitation, Bishop Malone said he welcomed it.

On Oct. 31 the Brooklyn Diocese announced completion of the visitation and said Bishop DiMarzio had submitted his report to the Congregation for Bishops. The results remain confidential.

In November, Bishop Malone made his "ad limina" visit to the Vatican along with the other bishops from the state of New York. On Nov. 18, in a video message to the diocese after he returned from Rome, the bishop said that during a two-hour group meeting with Pope Francis, the pontiff "in a few words spoken privately to me (and) it was clear that the pope understands the difficulties and distress we here in Buffalo, and I personally, have been experiencing. He was very understanding and kind."

In the message, Bishop Malone said he was "wholly committed to fostering the healing of victim survivors" and "rebuilding trust." He thanked "all who continue to be supportive of our diocese, of me and my ministry. ... I ask for your prayers and patience while the path forward is discerned."

We don’t have comments turned on everywhere anymore. We have recently relaunched the commenting experience at America and are aiming for a more focused commenting experience with better moderation by opening comments on a select number of articles each day.

But we still want your feedback. You can join the conversation about this article with us in social media on Twitter or Facebook, or in one of our Facebook discussion groups for various topics.

Or send us feedback on this article with one of the options below:

We welcome and read all letters to the editor but, due to the volume received, cannot guarantee a response.

In order to be considered for publication, letters should be brief (around 200 words or less) and include the author’s name and geographic location. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

We open comments only on select articles so that we can provide a focused and well-moderated discussion on interesting topics. If you think this article provides the opportunity for such a discussion, please let us know what you'd like to talk about, or what interesting question you think readers might want to respond to.

If we decide to open comments on this article, we will email you to let you know.

If you have a message for the author, we will do our best to pass it along. Note that if the article is from a wire service such as Catholic News Service, Religion News Service, or the Associated Press, we will not have direct contact information for the author. We cannot guarantee a response from any author.

We welcome any information that will help us improve the factual accuracy of this piece. Thank you.

Please consult our Contact Us page for other options to reach us.

City and state/province, or if outside Canada or the U.S., city and country. 
When you click submit, this article page will reload. You should see a message at the top of the reloaded page confirming that your feedback has been received.
Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

The latest from america

Rev. Enda McDonagh served the Irish church as a compassionate priest and renowned theologian. He died on Feb. 24.
Joseph McAuleyFebruary 26, 2021
George Balanchine's jarring choreography breathes new life into a parable that itself upends expectations.
Michelle SmithFebruary 26, 2021
A suburban Texas church is helping a nearby mosque recover from the devastating snowstorms that hit last week.
The political commentator Candace Owens, one of the Black Republicans who became more prominent during the Trump administration, speaks at the 2018 Young Women's Leadership Summit, in Dallas. (Gage Skidmore, Peoria, Ariz., via Wikimedia Commons)
The G.O.P. realizes it must become more diverse, writes Corey D. Fields, but it has become increasingly intolerant of Black Republicans who talk about racial justice, even in a conservative framework.
Corey D. FieldsFebruary 26, 2021