The bishop of the Roman Catholic diocese of Buffalo has resigned following widespread criticism over how he handled allegations of clergy sexual misconduct, reports the AP. Pope Francis on Wednesday accepted Bishop Richard Malone's resignation and named the bishop of Albany, New York, Edward Scharfenberger, to run the Buffalo diocese temporarily until a permanent replacement is found. The Vatican didn't say why Malone was resigning two years before the mandatory retirement age of 75. However, it conducted a recent investigation into the western New York diocese and Malone's handling of abuse cases. The diocese has been named in more than 220 recent lawsuits by people who claim they were sexually abused by priests.
Many of the claims date back decades, but critics say there have been more recent missteps by Malone. In 2018, he released a list of 42 priests accused of abuse. But a whistleblower working in his office found a secret draft list with 117 names, including that of a priest accused of having sex with a teenager, reports the New York Times. It was left off the public list after lawyers admitted "we did not remove him from ministry despite full knowledge of the case." Whistleblower Siobhan O'Connor tells the Times that "people were so frustrated and angry at Bishop Malone that they were losing their faith over it." A September poll by the Buffalo News found 86% of local Catholics wanted him out. Malone's resignation "is a sign for people that change can happen," says O'Connor.
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