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'60 Minutes' investigates sex abuse accusations in Buffalo diocese; Catholic Church responds

Press Release

Sat, Oct 27th 2018 11:55 pm
The former executive assistant to the Most. Rev. Richard Malone, bishop of Buffalo, accuses him of withholding the names of dozens of priests with sex abuse accusations against them from a report released last March. Siobhan O'Connor will detail her story for the first time on television to Bill Whitaker on "60 Minutes," Sunday at 7 p.m. on the CBS Television Network.
Hundreds of documents O'Conner secretly copied from the confidential files of the Diocese of Buffalo offer a window into Malone's alleged decisions about priests accused of abuse. The self-proclaimed devout O'Connor professes love for her church and her bishop. But she says she left the diocese last summer after three years because she claims the documents she discovered indicate the bishop had allowed the accused priests to continue in ministry.
"The reality of what I saw left me with no other option because, at the end of my life, I'm not going to answer to Bishop Malone, I am going to answer to God," O'Conner tells Whitaker.
"I did betray (Bishop Malone), and yet I can't apologize for that, because there was a greater good to consider," she says.
Whitaker also interviews Deacon Paul Snyder of the Buffalo Diocese. He is the first clergyman of the diocese to call for Malone's resignation. The information exposed by O'Connor enraged him.
"(Bishop Malone) is behaving in a way that you would typically think a CEO in a corporation that's being accused of corrupt practices might act, hiding behind attorneys," Snyder says. Some of the documents O'Connor found were prepared by the dioceses' attorneys. Watch the excerpt.
Since calling for Malone to step down, Snyder has received 400 notes and emails.
"They want to be part of the solution, but they think this bishop is preventing that," Snyder says.
"60 Minutes" has learned the Buffalo diocese is under investigation by federal authorities. Malone declined to be interviewed by "60 Minutes."
In response to the airing, and a subsequent press conference, the Buffalo Catholic Diocese released this statement:
Bishop Malone is stunned and dismayed at the comments of Ms. O'Connor at her press conference today. Her comments directly contradict her comments to him while she worked at the Chancery and even after she left.  In fact, her prior, written communications to the Bishop demonstrate her complete admiration for the Bishop and his efforts to lead the Diocese.  Her comments now are plainly and embarrassingly contradictory. Here are her actual email communications with the Bishop and others at the Chancery that she now criticizes.
•Aug. 21, 2018
"I've missed you and everyone at the Catholic Center very much! ... Please know that I would always be willing to come back and assist in any way..."
"I will always be deeply grateful to have worked with you Bishop...In truly countless ways you have inspired and edified me.  I am the better for having known and worked with you...May Our Lord richly bless you for all that you do for Him and for His Church!"
•Aug. 14, 2018
"Many thanks for your very kind and supportive message...Thank you for reminding me of Lumen Gentium's call for lay discipleship amidst our temporal pursuits...Glad to be working for a family and a company that respects and appreciates you and the Diocese."  (meaning new job)
•Aug. 13, 2018
"You're most welcome, Bishop - it does my Chancery heart good to be able to help you in these ways.  I trust that the...job will be a good thing for me long term, but this short-term transition is quite painful!  I truly missed you and the Chancery today!"
•Aug. 9, 2018
"How I will miss you all! Through tumultuous times and many memorable moments, it has been my pleasure to work with you in various capacities."
"I must thank Bishop Malone without whom none of my Catholic Center experiences would have been possible! Bishop - it has been a privilege to work by your side as you shepherd our diocese. There are too many memories to list, but here are a few highlights: "
•March 2016
"You (Bishop Malone) have maintained that heartfelt compassion and concern especially for those most in need...I simply cannot overemphasize how blessed our diocese is to have you as our shepherd..."
"Thank you for helping me become a better person through your example."
The Buffalo Catholic Diocese then released this statement on Wednesday:
The "60 Minutes" story that aired on Sunday clearly indicated that the Diocese of Buffalo is allowing 8 or 9 priests to remain in active ministry despite having credible child sexual abuse allegations against them.
This claim was reiterated yesterday at a press conference held by Mitchell Garabedian. It was stated there are "8 or 9 accused priests who are still working in the Diocese" with no additional comment offered except that the information was "very important" and had been provided to law enforcement.
Since the "60 Minutes" program aired on Sunday, the Diocese has fielded phone calls from people concerned about this claim. We share this concern since we are not aware of any priests in active ministry who have allegations against them.
We continue to uphold the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and take every claim of suspected abuse seriously acting upon it immediately.
We are asking that those who made these claims or anyone who has a claim of a priest still actively working in our Diocese to contact Jackie Joy, our Victims Assistance Coordinator, so that appropriate actions can be taken, including immediately removing them from ministry.

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