Local officials are starting to call for Bishop Richard Malone to resign over his handling of sexual abuse allegations in Buffalo Catholic Diocese.

Erie County Legislator Patrick Burke released the following statement this afternoon:

“I believe we have only scratched the surface of the problem. In just the past several months, the story has grown from reports of a few isolated incidents, to reports that the local diocese knew about this issue for decades and intentionally hid the truth from parishioners and the public at large. Their silence perpetuated sexual crimes against children. If any other organization were responsible for conspiring to hide pedophiles among its ranks, the public would demand the immediate resignations of anyone in leadership. The time has come for Bishop Malone to step down. Our community needs a full accounting of what happened here.”

Buffalo Common Council member Chris Scanlon voiced his opinion on the matter too, agreeing with Burke that Malone should step down.

Rep. Brian Higgins also called for Malone’s resignation Friday, stating on Twitter:

Meanwhile, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz released this statement regarding the decision of Catholic Charities to end its provision of foster care and adoptive services:

 I am very disappointed with the decision of Catholic Charities to end its provision of foster care and adoption services due to the application of a same-sex couple to be adoptive foster parents. Contrary to public statements from Catholic Charities chief executive officer Dennis Walczyk, the Erie County Department of Social Services was not given any prior notice of the decision, and we did not learn about the decision until asked yesterday to comment on the decision by a local reporter.

What disappoints me greatly about this decision is it contravenes past teachings from Pope Francis regarding how Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning individuals should be welcomed by the Church. In his 2016 book “The Name of God is Mercy,” Pope Francis offered this explanation about his famous “Who am I to judge?” statement where he responded to a question about gay priests:

“On that occasion I said this: If a person is gay and seeks out the Lord and is willing, who am I to judge that person? I was paraphrasing by heart the Catechism of the Catholic Church where it says that these people should be treated with delicacy and not be marginalized.

“I am glad that we are talking about ‘homosexual people’ because before all else comes the individual person, in his wholeness and dignity. And people should not be defined only by their sexual tendencies: let us not forget that God loves all his creatures and we are destined to receive his infinite love.”

“I prefer that homosexuals come to confession, that they stay close to the Lord, and that we pray all together. You can advise them to pray, show goodwill, show them the way, and accompany them along it.”

There can be no greater love for a child than the love by his or her parents. But what if a child has no parent? Does not that child deserve to be loved as well? Unfortunately, presently there are not enough individuals to foster and adopt children in Erie County, and this decision could further harm our efforts to place children in caring, loving families.

If ‘God loves all his creatures and we are destined to receive his infinite love’ how can we deny such love to a child by a couple who is being defined by their sexual orientation as a couple unworthy of adopting or fostering that child?

Furthermore, how can a homosexual ‘stay close to the Lord’ when the charitable arm of the Church declares that a homosexual couple is unworthy of offering their love and compassion to a needy child as a foster or adoptive parent?

The Erie County Department of Social Services cannot provide all services required in our community to ensure the health and well-being of our citizens. We need willing partners to help us in this endeavor, partners that by law cannot act in a discriminatory manner. Catholic Charities has been a good and necessary partner to the Erie County Department of Social Services for decades. From providing emergency shelter to those in need, to assisting in providing the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), to the welcoming and placement of immigrants and refugees into our community, and in so many other ways Catholic Charities of Buffalo has been a leader in ensuring the health and well-being of our most vulnerable citizens.

I was taught by Monsignor Murphy and the parish priests at Our Lady of Victory in Lackawanna that God loves all regardless of who we are and that each of us has a responsibility to be there and care for our neighbors in their time of need. Thus it is very disappointing to see Catholic Charities choose to end its participation in a service that means so much to the most vulnerable members of our community: providing at-risk children with loving parents or guardians at a time in their life when they need it the most.

As such I call on Bishop Richard Malone of the Diocese of Buffalo to reverse this decision and follow the lead of Pope Francis by not defining a person by their sexual orientation but by the love and compassion they contain in their heart for others. If a loving LGBTQ couple is willing to open up their home to a child and offer that child the love the child so desperately deserves, who are we to judge?