"I am also mindful of the requests by some for even more transparency. The Movement to Restore Trust has asked me to be more transparent about several issues, including the abuse crisis's financial impact on the diocese. I have taken those requests to heart, and I intend to be more transparent on a number of those issues as well."
The bishop's statement, nearly 3,000 words in length, noted the good record of the Diocese of Buffalo in handling allegations of abuse, and said that most reports made about priests in recent years have concerned situations that allegedly happened decades ago.
The bishop also lamented the scope of child sexual abuse in upstate New York.
"One report of abuse by a member of our clergy is one too many, and every Catholic in this diocese, including me, is horrified by each report. But even if the diocese is aware of only half of the total number of people who were abused by priests as children, that total number constitutes only a small fraction of one percent of the child sexual abuse that has occurred in this area," he said, estimating that as many as 121,000 adults in his region may have been the victims of childhood sexual abuse.
"Most abuse will never be reported because it was perpetrated by family members, family friends, or neighbors. Also, because there is no institution associated with those abusers, most of that abuse will never be the subject of a lawsuit or a front-page story. But to forget or to ignore the vast majority of victims of child sexual abuse would be a tragedy."
Malone said that local media has "provided minimal reporting" on nationwide efforts to end childhood sexual abuse, "all while providing constant coverage of decades-old clergy sexual abuse cases in Buffalo. The 9,000 children being abused here every year deserve better, and our community deserves reporting on the full panorama."
"I provide this perspective not to minimize the horrific scale of the abuse perpetrated by priests in the past but rather to place it in the context of a wider societal problem of child sexual abuse that deserves more attention from the media and from us all. Child sexual abuse definitely has received attention from the Church. While the Church in the United States can be faulted for not having done enough in the past to address child sexual abuse, no other institution has done more in recent years to prevent such abuse from occurring," he added.
The bishop ended his letter apologizing for a particular incident: his 2015 support of Fr. Art Smith, a priest who had faced repeated allegations of abuse and misconduct with minors.
"Lessons have been learned," Malone said.
"I personally need to repent and reform, and it is my hope that this diocese can rebuild itself and learn and even grow from the sins of the past. I ask you to pray for me, pray for the Church, and pray for all those who suffered and suffer as a result of abuse as we go forward together to address the worldwide problem of child sexual abuse."