ROME — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Richard J. Malone as Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, the Holy See Press Office announced early Wednesday morning. Malone has been under fire for nearly two years following reports of a lack of oversight by the diocese regarding clerical abuse.
On its website shortly after 6 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, the Vatican announced concurrently the Holy Father's appointment of Edward Scharfenberger, Bishop of the Albany Diocese, as temporary apostolic administrator.
Shortly after the Vatican's announcement, the Buffalo Diocese released a statement from Malone who explained his decision to resign came from an "honest assessment that I have accomplished as much as I am able to, and that there remain divisions and wounds that I am unable to bind and heal."
He continued, "My decision to retire early was made freely and voluntarily. I have come to this decision with honest reflection and a deep and abiding commitment to doing what I believe is in the best interests of the church throughout western New York."
The Albany Diocese also released a statement from Scharfenberger shorty after Pope Francis' announcement.
"I will be doing a lot of listening and learning,” he said of the task before him, asking for prayers during this process.
According to the release, Scharfenberger will continue to serve the Diocese of Albany simultaneously and, in a subsequent video statement, he noted that he will spend one day a week in Buffalo to fulfill this appointment.
Scharfenberger, a 71-year-old Brooklyn native, was ordained in 1973 and has served as Albany's bishop since 2014. According to the Albany Diocese's website, he received his bachelor's degree in sacred theology from Pontifical Gregorian University in 1972, a license in Canon Law from the Catholic University of America in 1980 and a law degree from Fordham University in 1990 before being admitted to the New York State Bar in 1991. Prior to his appointment as bishop, he served as judicial vicar for the Diocese of Brooklyn, then was named the episcopal vicar of Queens.
St. Bonaventure University President Dennis DePerro, in a release obtained by TAPinto Greater Olean, explained that Malone's resignation was overdue.
"The Church clearly recognized the issue was becoming intolerable when it brought in Brooklyn Bishop DiMarzio to investigate the crisis," DePerro, who became the first Catholic college president to call for Malone's resignation in April.
"They owed it to the victims who’ve had to relive their pain each time a new story broke about the depths of the mishandling of the crisis in the Diocese."
He added, "This is an important moment in the history of the Catholic Church in Buffalo and it’s incumbent on lay Catholic leaders and organizations to work very intentionally with new leadership in the Diocese to heal our wounds."