Take A Number

The national spotlight has once again focused on our beleaguered Buffalo diocese. This Nightline piece aired just after midnight today and contains Bishop Malone’s first national interview. I remember being shocked when I learned that Bishop Malone had agreed to do an interview with ABC’s David Wright since the Bishop has resolutely refused interview requests unless they’re of the softball (WBEN, WGRZ) or airball (hello Don Postles) variety.

For me, the most challenging part of the Bishop’s interview was when he’s shown a clip from my own interview with ABC’s David Wright. I drew a sharp breath when I realized that the Bishop was watching my response to a very difficult question.

During my interview last December, David asked me outright if Bishop Malone should go to jail. I was startled by that question as I had never considered it before. By that time, I had publicly called for the Bishop to resign, but I had never thought of jail time for him. It just wasn’t on my radar. Considering him unfit to lead our diocese, I wanted him to resign and figured he’d go back to the Cape – not to a cell.

That question from David is the first media question so far that I’ve hesitated before answering. I stumbled a bit as I tried to answer him. Then David followed up by asking me if I would testify against the Bishop. “Yes, I would” was my immediate answer. I remember wondering, If I testify against the Bishop, could that testimony lead to his being sentenced? I suppose that’s a distinct possibility.

We are in such uncharted waters and unfamiliar territory. The FBI and AG are actively investigating our diocese. What will these investigations yield? What will be the ramifications of their investigations? Could jail time for Bishop Malone be one of those repercussions? I don’t know.

But I do know one thing: if Bishop Malone does go to jail, he should not go alone.

First in the jail line should be the abusive priests, who for decades have resided in condos, cabins and cottages instead of cells. Many of them were serial abusers with literally dozens of victims. They absolutely must pay for their crimes – in this life or the next. Bishop Malone himself has stated that if it weren’t for the statute of limitations, many of our Buffalo priests would have gone to jail. For far too long, these abusive priests have avoided the consequences that any of us would have received if we had committed similar crimes.

I also believe that Bishop Malone’s complicit advisors – legal and diocesan – should keep him company in jail. They would have plenty of time to talk about “carefully crafted criteria” and other questionable decisions they made together.

The PA Grand Jury report makes it clear that Bishop Malone would not be the only bishop in jail. For example, Bishop Trautman of Erie, PA should definitely be there too. There are other NY bishops (for starters) who should join them in what they’d probably start calling the Bishop’s Wing of this hypothetical jail.

So when it comes to the possibility of jail, there would be a line. Bishop Malone would have to take a number because he wouldn’t be first in that long line.

It pains my heart to even be writing about such things. Dear God, how have we come to this?! Growing up a joyful Catholic, I could never have dreamed that one day I would be seriously reflecting on whether bishops should go to jail. It breaks my heart.

But you know what breaks my heart even more? The suffering and sorrow of the survivors. They are strong and resilient, but that doesn’t mean they are not still in pain or struggling to overcome their trauma. They deserve every bit of justice they can receive. If that justice eventually includes bishops in jail, I can only say sincerely that I would visit Bishop Malone in jail.

God is all just and ever merciful. We humans have always struggled to find a balance between the two. For now, all we can do is pray and work for human justice while trusting in Divine Mercy.

Jesus, I trust in you and I love you.

My thanks to ABC – particularly David Wright and Pete Madden – for their commitment to our story and their appreciation of Charlie Specht’s excellent work on our diocesan debacle.

3 thoughts on “Take A Number

  • The truth is the truth Siobhan. And like Harry Truman used to say “I don’t give em hell, I just tell the truth and they feel like they’re in hell.” Keep up the good fight. The Bishop takes stonewalling to a whole new level. I don’t think he gained many fans by his interview. Cheers.

    Sent from my iPad

    >

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    • As a faithful Catholic from St. Vincent DePaul Parish in Niagara Falls, all I can say is ‘thank you Siobhan for your love of the victims and for being their voice and their light of justice.

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  • COPY OF LETTER TO DIOCESE OF BUFFALO:

    August 23, 2019

    Glenn Chicoine
    2461 City Lake Road
    Waldron, AR 72958

    Your Excellency, Most Reverend Richard J. Malone
    Diocese of Buffalo
    Buffalo, New York

    Dear Bishop Malone:

    I and my family are about to once again be subjected to news about you and your fellow bishops behaving abominably—with impunity.

    That is, news reports suggest that you are failing to respond to abuse complaints in ways that do not appear to favor, protect, or condone abusers over victims. You and your Fr. Jeffrey Nowak are the apparent abusers.

    To wit:

    “The Diocese of Buffalo suppresses … [August 20, 2019]
    By: Charlie Specht [https://www.wkbw.com/news/i-team/the-diocese-of-buffalo-suppresses-the-truth-in-relation-to-sexual-abuse-seminarian-says]
    BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Another seminarian in the Diocese of Buffalo has given up his dream of becoming a Catholic priest, blaming alleged sexual harassment by diocesan priest Rev. Jeffrey Nowak and Bishop Richard J. Malone’s lack of action when he reported it.
    Matthew Bojanowski, whose mother first revealed the allegations of sexual harassment in an interview with the 7 Eyewitness News I-Team, announced Tuesday he is resigning from Christ the King Seminary and is calling on the seminary to be shut down and for Bishop Malone to resign. …”

    Etc.

    Really? You probably think you’re “tough.” This would not be a good time to wax insolent with concerned people of God, to waste more and more money intended for God’s work, or to scoff the laws of the land and God.

    Granted, we lay persons “outshine” you in failure to be even basically Catholic Christian. But that fact only shows a diffusion of failure—on your watch; it is by no means justification of your failures.

    Here’s a thought: at least try to be basically Catholic Christian—you know—and not just another abominable and expensive failure. Try. Try to follow the Lord Jesus. Or—leave. Now!

    Realize:

    There is a point when wasting the funds of widows and orphans, sexually harassing (literally) our young men and women (our children, whether teenage or adult), and all the while looking like “queer McCarricks” in our homes, and heads, and hearts, and family souls … there is a point when such behavior and spectacle righteously elicits self-defense to the fullest extent of the law and morality.

    Consider how Natural Law’s Principle of Double Effect justifies subduing such abominators in defense of the defenseless.

    Sincerely,

    Glenn Chicoine

    214-729-9253

    Cc the above-mentioned clerics and EWTN [, Siobhan O’Connor]

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