Buffalo bishop whistleblower: I acted out of love for survivors and Church
BUFFALO, New York, November 6, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The former secretary who publicly accused her bishop of covering-up for abusive priests has revealed her motivation in her local paper: love for survivors and for the Church.
Siobhan O’Connor, who wrote in the Buffalo News this May about believing and respecting victims of clerical sexual abuse, returned to its pages this Monday to explain why she subsequently leaked information to the media that directly implicated her bishop in abuse cover-up.
“From the beginning of this tumultuous journey, I have been in service to God and to the truth,” she wrote in the Buffalo News. “I have acted out of love for the survivors, my diocese, my community and my Church.”
O’Connor began to work for the Diocese of Buffalo and Bishop Richard Malone in 2015. As Malone’s secretary she was privy to memos and personnel files that showed that the bishop had allowed priests accused of offenses like unwanted touching and statutory rape to remain in active ministry. She even found a 300-page binder of pending litigations stuffed into the bishop’s supply closet. When Malone produced a carefully curated list of 42 accused priests – none of whom were still in ministry – for public scrutiny, O’Connor knew that there should have been at least 118 priests on it.
As the Diocese of Buffalo was officially welcoming to victims, O’Connor met many of them and became concerned that they were not being treated well. She also worried that accused priests still in ministry might hurt others. When her objections to Malone’s decisions fell on deaf episcopal ears, O’Connor turned to people known in the Chancery office as “the enemy”: reporters.
She began to meet with Charlie Sprecht from Buffalo’s WKBW Channel 7, passing to him documents that indicated Malone had been less than transparent. At first known as Sprecht’s anonymous insider, O’Connor was later revealed as the whistleblower by CBS’s “60 Minutes” a few months after she left her post as Malone’s secretary.
In her essay for Buffalo News, O’Connor wrote that she had held the bishop “in the highest esteem,” as letters the bishop later released in an effort to discredit his former secretary show. She indicated that she had loved her job until she lost her “rose-colored” glasses.
“In many ways, I miss my rose-colored days at the Chancery when Bishop Malone and I worked together with ebullient ease and effortless efficiency,” she wrote.
“Yet once those rosy glasses slid off my nose, there was no turning back,” she continued.
“What I was witnessing boggled my mind, broke my heart and burdened my soul. My conscience felt as though it were in a vise that was tightening at an alarming rate. I began to experience insomnia, crying spells and even my first panic attack. Sitting incapacitated in a Wegmans parking lot in early July, I uttered a desperate prayer: ‘God, help me!’”
God’s answer came in the forms of Sprecht and other reporters who, O’Connor believes, are not interested in exploiting victims or bashing the Catholic Church. They gave her an opportunity to do what Bishop Malone did not: to tell the truth about clerical sexual abuse allegations in Buffalo. Ironically, “Live the Truth in Love” is Malone’s episcopal motto.
At a press conference last week, O’Connor began her statement with a heartfelt prayer to the Lord Jesus Christ for victims of clerical sexual abuse and coverup and for the purification of the Catholic Church. In her essay for the Buffalo Herald this week, she presented the thoughts of Pope Emeritus on the relationship between love and truth:
“In his encyclical Charity in Truth, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI shared the following insights: ‘Charity in truth, to which Jesus Christ bore witness by his earthly life and especially by his death and resurrection, is the principal driving force behind the authentic development of every person …,’” O’Connor wrote.
“‘Love is an extraordinary force, which leads people to opt for courageous and generous engagement in the field of justice and peace. It is a force that has its origin in God, Eternal Love and Absolute Truth. To defend the truth, to articulate it with humility and conviction, and to bear witness to it in life are therefore exacting and indispensable forms of charity,’" the quote continued.
O’Connor then asked her former boss to both tell the truth and to step down:
“Be truthful with us, Bishop Malone. Put an end to this toxic secrecy and painful silence. And, if you love us, begin the process of allowing new episcopal leadership to come to our diocese.”
Malone told a reporter from the Buffalo News that he was “a man of integrity” and that he has no plans to resign.
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