BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – A new poll shows a strong majority of Catholics want Bishop Richard Malone to resign as the Diocese of Buffalo’s leader.
The poll, commissioned by the Buffalo News and conducted by North Tonawanda based Cornerstone Research & Marketing, found that nearly 86 percent of Catholics surveyed believe Malone should step down.
Fewer than 3 percent of respondents want Malone to stay on as bishop.
“It confirms what I’ve heard,” said James Faluszczak, a former priest who is now an advocate for victims of clergy sexual abuse.
The Buffalo News says each of the 473 people who responded to the survey identified as either a Catholic or a lapsed Catholic. They all live in Erie and Niagara Counties.
For more than a year, Malone has resisted calls for resignation over his handling of the clergy sex abuse scandal in the diocese. Those calls were renewed by in recent weeks as Malone faced criticism for his handling of a sexual harassment claim by Matthew Bojanowski. Bojanowski is a former seminarian who accused Rev. Jeffrey Nowak of violating the seal of his confession.
The complaint was officially filed in January. However Nowak wasn’t put on leave until August, only after he refused to undergo a behavioral assessment, Malone said.
At a press conference on September 4th, Malone defied his critics once again, refusing to resign.
“I’m here because I feel an obligation as the one who was sent here to lead this diocese,” Malone said. “If I thought that the majority of Catholic people were calling for my resignation, that would be a different story.
“But I don’t feel that.”
The Buffalo News poll would appear to be a direct contradiction of that.
In response to the poll, Kathy Spangler, a diocesan spokeswoman, said, “The bishop very much respects area Catholics’ right to express their opinion.”
Also Tuesday, a second parish released the results of an informal poll conducted among parishioners. St. Joseph University parish in Buffalo says 504 of 528 respondents say Malone should go.
Last week, Annunciation parish in Elma said 85 percent of those who responded to the question wanted Malone to resign. Two people surveyed did not answer the question.
“I think these polls are going to mean something to Church authorities who are looking to gauge the sensitivities of people who are in this area,” Faluszczak said.