BUFFALO, New York – The former Diocese of Buffalo employee who leaked internal diocesan documents to the press wrote in an op-ed Sunday that she shared the documents “out of love for the survivors, my diocese, my community and my Church.”
“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,” Siobhan O’Connor wrote Nov. 4th in the Buffalo News.
O’Connor wrote that while she was executive assistant to Buffalo’s Bishop Richard Malone, she would often field calls from survivors of sexual abuse.
“After hearing survivors’ accounts of the abuse they suffered and the trauma they are still enduring, I was overcome with the desire to assist them with more than a sympathetic ear and the promise of prayer.”
Some of the documents O’Connor leaked suggest that Malone worked with diocesan lawyers to avoid releasing publicly the names of some diocesan priests accused of misconduct.
Ultimately the diocese culled down a list of over one hundred clergy accused of “criminal, abusive or inappropriate behavior” to a final, publicly released list of just 42, the documents show.
O’Connor wrote that she was approached in late July by local reporter Charlie Specht from WKBW Channel 7. The local news station published an exhaustive investigative report Aug. 22-23, citing documents leaked by O’Connor indicating that Malone allowed priests to stay in ministry, despite multiple allegations against them.
O’Connor revealed her identity in the week leading up to her Oct. 28 interview on CBS’ “60 Minutes.” She said in her op-ed that she loved working for the diocese, and previously held the bishop “in the highest esteem,” as emails released by the diocese Oct. 30 showed.
“As I have stated publicly, I bear no ill will toward Bishop Malone…Indeed, I still care about him and pray for him with a sincere heart,” she wrote.
Malone said in a Nov. 2 interview on local radio station WBEN that he believed no laws were broken when the documents were leaked, and that he trusted O’Connor followed her conscience in doing what she did.
O’Connor thanked the diocese’s “many wonderful priests and deacons, who have suffered deeply throughout these long months…for their faithful fortitude” and expressed her wish to work with them to “rebuild our local church with courage and charity.”
She concluded by imploring Malone to live out his episcopal motto, “Live the Truth in Love;” while she reiterated her call for his resignation.
“Be truthful with us, Bishop Malone. Put an end to this toxic secrecy and painful silence,” she wrote.
“And, if you love us, begin the process of allowing new episcopal leadership to come to our diocese.”
Though Malone apologized to victims in his Nov. 3 radio interview, he said he does not plan to resign. He stated that while he admits he mishandled allegations of sexual abuse involving adults, he maintains that his “record handling misconduct allegations with children is good.”
Also on Nov. 3, the diocese placed two more priests, Msgr. Frederick R. Leising and Father Ronald P. Sajdak, on administrative leave after receiving abuse complaints against them. The investigation is ongoing, and the diocese did not specify whether the alleged abuse involved children.