The diocese said that “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.”
The statement did not directly address the veracity of O’Connor’s claim that Malone worked with diocesan lawyers to parse down the list of accused priests published by the diocese.
The list, released March 20, “identifies diocesan priests who were removed from ministry, were retired, or left ministry after allegations of sexual abuse of a minor,” according to the diocese. It “also includes deceased priests with more than one allegation made against them.”
“It was a very carefully curated list,” O’Connor said.
“To my mind the overarching attitude seemed to be to protect the Church's reputation and her assets,” she added.
The Oct. 30 diocesan statement included a release of emails sent from O’Connor to Bishop Malone and her former diocesan co-workers, including one sent Aug. 9, 2018.
“Thank you, Bishop, for all of the opportunities I’ve had and lessons I’ve learned while working for and with you,” the email read in part.
“You have my heartfelt gratitude. I will always pray for you and your Chancery staff as I know so well the burdens you carry!”
In an email dated Aug. 21, O’Connor wrote: “I will always be deeply grateful to have worked with you Bishop...in truly countless ways you have inspired and edified me.”
During her “60 Minutes” interview, O’Connor said she loved Malone as her bishop and as her boss, and that her decision to leak documents was not motivated by personal animus for him.
“The reality of what I saw really left me with no other option,” she said. “Because at the end of my life I’m not going to answer to Bishop Malone, I’m going to answer to God.”
Malone has issued three public apologies and has offered to sell his residence to help to compensate abuse victims.
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Malone declined to be interviewed by “60 Minutes,” saying in part: “it is clear to me and my staff that your roster of interviews did not include those who are aware of the full extent of the efforts of our Diocese to combat child abuse. Nor does it include those who urge me every day to stay the course and restore the confidence of our faithful.”
The Buffalo diocese was issued a subpoena in June as part of a federal investigation into clerical sexual abuse.
Fr. Robert Zilliox, an abuse victim himself, lamented on “60 Minutes” that it seemed the diocese and the bishop were not being transparent and holding abusive priests accountable.
“It’s beyond troubling. That’s not the Church. The Church is holy. Those are individuals in the Church who are weak, and who have made very bad decisions. And because of that, they need to be held accountable for what they’ve done,” Father Zilliox said.