McCutcheon’s case is not the only one to leave concerned onlookers with troubling questions about the church’s transparency — and thus its commitment to resolving the sex abuse crisis once and for all. In March, the Archdiocese of Buffalo released a list of 42 priests credibly accused of sexual abuse. “Seeing the name in print, acknowledged by the church, can liberate and empower that (victim) to come forward,” Buffalo Bishop Richard Malone said at the time, “and we want them to come forward for help.” Yet Malone’s assistant, Siobhan O’Connor, knew from viewing internal emails and documents that there were more priests with histories of sexual misconduct in the archdiocese than the bishop’s list had supplied. “I felt that instead of being transparent, we were almost being the opposite or — or half-transparent,” O’Connor told CBS News last month.
In August, O’Connor leaked personnel files and other records to a Buffalo journalist that put the total number of credibly accused priests in the archdiocese at 118. Then she quit her job.
“I knew that the truth was locked up in the diocese’s secret archives and believed this toxic secrecy created an enormous injustice for survivors as well as for our diocese and our community,” O’Connor told me via email. Malone’s office released a statement shortly thereafter claiming that O’Connor’s comments about the bishop’s conduct were “plainly and embarrassingly contradictory,” based on remarks she had made before about how much she loved the church, her former boss and her Catholic community.
“It is precisely because I love my Catholic faith and our Church that I took the action I did,” O’Connor countered in an email to me. “The more you love a person or an entity, the more you desire to preserve them from corruption of any kind. How could I witness duplicity and complicity at the highest level of our diocese and not do something about it?”