Recording of Buffalo’s bishop leaks: ‘It could force me to resign if in fact they make a story’

Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo, N.Y. (CNS photo/Bob Roller) Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo, N.Y. (CNS photo/Bob Roller) 

BUFFALO, N.Y. (CNS) -- Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo said in an audio recording that he feared having to resign over his handling of a sexual harassment accusation by a seminarian against a diocesan priest.

The recording, obtained by WKBW-TV, was made Aug. 2 by Bishop Malone's priest secretary, Father Ryszard Biernat.

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Father Biernat began a leave of absence from his position Aug. 14.

The television station in its report Sept. 3 did not say how it acquired the recording. It posted a transcript of the recording on its website.

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Bishop Malone is heard saying that the situation he was facing was "a true crisis."

"And everyone in the office is convinced this could be the end of me as bishop. It could force me to resign if in fact they make a story," the bishop said.

The beleaguered bishop has faced questions about how he has handled allegations of abuse against diocesan priests for more than a year. The most recent controversy arose over an allegation from former seminarian Matthew Bojanowski, who accused Father Jeffrey Nowak, a priest of the diocese, of sexual harassment.

Bojanowski said he first notified Bishop Malone in November 2018 of the allegation against Father Nowak. The diocese announced in an Aug. 28 statement that Father Nowak had been placed on administrative leave.

The bishop is heard in the recording expressing concern to Father Biernat that the incident involving Father Nowak could "open a huge can of worms" if it were reported in the media.

Bishop Malone has faced numerous questions for his handling of abuse allegations. Several seminarians and at least one diocesan priest called for his resignation following the leak of diocesan files by a diocesan secretary that allegedly show the bishop had kept priests accused of abuse in ministry.

"With all else that's going on in the diocese and all the, all the attacks on my credibility ... that I've known that something's going on here that shouldn't be and I let it go ... I mean this is a disaster," Bishop Malone said, according to the transcript of the recording.

After a meeting with two diocesan officials, the bishop expressed concern that they were distressed about the situation facing the diocese.

"You know, they really scared me," Bishop Malone told Father Biernat. "They kept saying, 'You know this could be the end, bishop. This could be the end.'"

Jeanne Devine
1 week 4 days ago

As I recall, imperfect contrition comes from fear of punishment. Sounds like all the bishop is worried about is the disclosure of his failures to monitor and discipline his priests. No worries about what they did or were accused of doing, though. No contrition for his failure to shepherd his flock.

LE Kieley
1 week 3 days ago

At 76 years of age, born and raised Catholic, Schools, raised 4 adult children in Catholic Schools and attended Mass with our entire family. When my son was 10 yrs. old, his entire personality changed to be reclusive, attention in school work lackluster, and sheltering a deep, dark secret. He had been raped and abused by our long-time priest, family friend, mentor, church leader, and grade school administrator. When he finally opened up to us tearfully at 32 yrs of age, all the pieces fit together. It could not happen to our family, we were devout, caring parents, and a huge part of our church community. My son was part of the Grand Jury Report and silently harbored these atrocities so that we would not feel any responsibility but his shame held him back all those years. It's been two years, still raw with disgust, tragic anger & yet I can't find peace, forgiveness nor any of us healing. Our lives are tainted forever, & it should have never happened to our human family. We pray to God, but I am a lost soul on a misdirected voyage towards unknown territory without a compass. The pain has no words........

FRAN ABBOTT
1 week 3 days ago

LE Kieley, there are no words. Please know that you and your family will be in my daily prayers for the rest of my life.

[Explore America’s in-depth coverage of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.]

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