ELMA, N.Y. — The pastor of Elma's Church of Annunciation has added his voice to area Catholic clergy calling on Buffalo Bishop Richard Malone to resign.

Posted on the church website is a letter sent to the Bishop on Tuesday. 

In it, Rev Eugene Ulrich explains there was a recent effort to gauge Malone's support within the parish. An electronic survey sent to "people very active in parish life" at Annunciation got 29 responses. The overwhelming majority thought the Bishop should resign.

In addition, members of the church's pastoral council also spoke to parishioners at recent masses. Members of the council reporter a majority those they spoke to also wanted the Bishop tom step down.

This call for resignation comes as a "no confidence letter" is being circulated to WNY priests and deacons. This letter also calls for Malone's resignation. It is not known how many clergy may sign it.

Just last week, the Bishop maintained he still enjoyed the support of a majority of WNY Catholics and a majority of the clergy in the diocese.

Here is the full text of the letter:

September 10, 2019
Most Reverend Richard J. Malone
Bishop of Buffalo
795 Main Street
Buffalo, New York 14203

Dear Bishop Malone:

The Church of the Annunciation, Elma prays God’s peace, strength and discernment at this excruciating difficult period of time. You have publicly expressed your intention “to continue the ministry to which the Church has called me as long as I can …I want to be part of the renewal of the diocese of Buffalo.” You added that you can only continue your service as Shepherd with the support of clergy and laity.  

As pastor, I have a responsibility to our faith community and to you as our Bishop, to gauge to some degree the measure of that support and convey it to you. I asked Ms. Deb Keenan, graduate of Christ the King Seminary and our Pastoral Associate for Ministry, to speak at weekend Masses on the occasion of the CKS Appeal. After affirming the quality theological formation/education that she received at the Seminary as an Ecclesial Minister, Deb provided parishioners an opportunity to express their support for you to continue as Bishop or their loss of confidence. Members of the Pastoral Council were present after each Mass to listen to parishioners who chose to express their feeling/opinion. Tom Di Scipio, Chair, Pastoral Council, convened this key consultative body on Monday, September 9 to digest all the responses in order to measure support in our faith community. Our parish trustees Dottie Austin and Mike Skrip were part of the assessment/discussion. Deacon Jim Jaworski, our Pastoral Associate for Administration, sent an e-survey to parish leaders involved in community life (ministry, liturgy, formation, counsel, management, organizations, finance and charity) to elicit their response.    

After Masses people did stop to talk with members of our Pastoral Council. A few were so distraught with news reports that they could not say or write a word. Some expressed themselves in writing: 13 indicate continuing support for you; 32 that you should resign or retire; 2 support you but want you to resign/retire; 1 dissatisfied with bishops. The e-survey elicited the following replies: Do you have confidence in Bishop Richard Malone's leadership to restore trust and credibility in the Diocese of Buffalo? 4 Yes 24 No; do you call for Bishop Richard Malone's immediate resignation? 23 Yes 4 No.  The e-survey has significance because responses come from people very active in parish life. Of the 54 e-surveys that were sent out, 29 were returned, a 54% response rate. 

Our Pastoral Council met on Monday to review comments made by parishioners/visitors after weekend Masses and replies to our e-survey. Discussion was thoughtful and serious. We recognize the enormous task given to you and our responsibility to share the mind and heart of our parish. Our Pastoral Council and Trustees respectfully urge you to weigh the substantial lack of support for you as our Shepherd and the well-being of the diocese in making the decision to offer your resignation or request early retirement at this time. 

Personally I have been supporting you because of your commitment to work closely with the Movement to Restore Trust in bringing healing to those deeply harmed, restoring credibility and making the necessary structural changes to ensure greater lay involvement dealing with clergy abuse of minors and vulnerable adults and adult misconduct cases. MRT has now withdrawn their support and is asking for your resignation. It is difficult to see how, with continuing disclosures, that you can effectively lead the Catholic Church at Buffalo. For the greater good you should offer your resignation to the Holy Father.  

Sincerely,

Rev. Eugene P. Ulrich

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