Bishop Malone responds to WKBW-TV story on Maine

Wed, Nov 21st 2018 12:00 pm

After enduring several months of controversy and anger over his decisions about handling sexual abuse cases within the Diocese of Buffalo, Bishop Richard J. Malone responded to a recent story by WKBW-TV about his history in his former diocese in Portland, Maine.

The WKBW-TV story reports on two separate cases involving priests while Bishop Malone was the leader of the Diocese of Portland from 2004 to 2013. Bishop Malone is quoted in the story, and his full statement is reprinted below.

I stand by the fact that the canonical process, as it relates to Father Thomas Lee and Father Paul Coughlin, was scrupulously followed during my time as bishop in Portland, Maine.  For anyone to imply that there was any sort of cover-up in either case is patently false.  We were transparent, issuing press releases and letters to the faithful throughout both investigations.  The attached releases from the Diocese of Portland document our transparency.

In the case of Father Lee, when the tribunal determined that the allegations were not proven, I supported an appeal.  When a second tribunal reached the same conclusion, no further appeal was possible.  Nevertheless, I continued the restrictions on his ministry.  I know some were critical of the canonical process because they did not like the result.  It's no different than when people become frustrated with our justice system if they do not like the verdict.  But the verdict stands.

Father Coughlin was punished for permitting a convicted sex offender, John Skinner Sr., to live in a parish rectory and his failure to follow a 1987 policy to report information from a minor who had been abused by Skinner.  I sought and obtained Father Coughlin's resignation from ministry but Canon law required I review his case periodically.  After three years, I allowed him to resume some priestly duties - saying Mass in convent chapels and filling in at weekend Masses.  There was a significant outcry to this decision so I re-evaluated my decision and restricted his ministry.


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