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Vatican announces investigation of Buffalo diocese

The Vatican is investigating the Diocese of Buffalo, whose bishop has been accused of mishandling sexual abuse allegations, the Holy See announced on Thursday.

No reason was given in the short statement issued by the Vatican’s envoy to the United States. The announcement said the investigation would be conducted by Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn and take place in the “near future.”

In Vatican-speak, the investigation is known as an “Apostolic Visitation,” which the church defines as a “fact-finding mission which reports directly” to the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops.

Buffalo Bishop Richard Malone, who has admitted to having “fallen short of the standard” in his handling of sex abuse claims against priests, has refused to step down, even as local Catholics express dissatisfaction with his leadership.

According to a recent poll conducted by the Buffalo News, the vast majority of local current and lapsed Catholics want Malone to resign.

In a statement, the Diocese of Buffalo said Malone “welcomes” the church investigation.

“Bishop Malone has committed to cooperate fully and stated that this Visitation is for the good of the Church in Buffalo,” the statement said.

DiMarzio said he prayed to be “an instrument for surfacing the truth.”

“This is a difficult period in the life of the Church in Buffalo,” DiMarzio said. “I pledge I will keep an open mind throughout the process and do my best to learn the facts and gain a thorough understanding of the situation in order to fulfill the mandate of this Apostolic Visitation.”

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