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Edward Malesic To Become Bishop Of Cleveland

Bishop Edward C. Malesic said noon Mass at St. John the Evangelist in Downtown Cleveland.
Gabriel Kramer
Ideastream Public Media
Bishop Edward C. Malesic said noon Mass at St. John the Evangelist in Downtown Cleveland after the announcement he will become Cleveland's bishop in September.

Updated: 11:57 a.m., Thursday, July 16, 2020

The Catholic Diocese of Cleveland will have a new bishop in the fall. Bishop Edward Malesic will become the 12 th bishop of the diocese on Sept. 14.

Pope Francis made the announcement at noon in Rome. Malesic replaces  Bishop Nelson Perez, who left Cleveland in February to become the Archbishop of Philadelphia.

Perez left a mark on the Cleveland Diocese, Malesic said in a Thursday morning press conference.

“He focused our attention on the dignity of every human being, and he made deep strides in connecting with our community,” Malesic said. “Our church in Cleveland is left with a strong foundation for which I am very grateful.”

The 59-year-old Malesic has been bishop of Greensburg, Pa., since 2015. A native of Harrisburg, Malesic has an Ohio connection: He received his bachelor’s degree and a master of divinity from the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus. He returned to Pennsylvania, where he served in parishes across the state.

“I am sad to be leaving the Diocese of Greensburg,” Malesic said. “This will not be an easy transition for me, but once again I believe that God is asking me to move to a new place. Your prayers will make the transition easier.”

The Cleveland Diocese is full of vibrant, committed people, Malesic said, and is much larger than Greensburg.

“The Diocese is about five times larger than the diocese I’m coming from, so be patient with me,” Malesic said. “There will be a learning curve. I promise to do my best. I know I will make mistakes, forgive me when I do.”

The coronavirus pandemic creates barriers for making initial connections with the Cleveland community, Malesic said.

“This is a tough time to come to Cleveland. Normally, I’d be walking among you, shaking your hands and getting to know each other,” he said. “Now we’re distant with each other. Same thing with the clergy, it’s hard to get together and get to know them right away.”

Malesic hasn’t yet learned of specific difficulties facing the Cleveland Diocese, he said, but one issue he intends to address is a lack of interest in the Catholic church from young people.

“Sometimes people say, ‘The Church is mean, the Church is corrupt, the Church is this,’ and that’s just not the Church I belong to,” Malesic said. “I need to tell them what the Church is, and that they have a role to play.”

Malesic also spoke to a “crisis of credibility” in Catholicism in the wake of allegations of sexual abuse by priests.

“The Church does not tolerate people who would abuse a child,” Malesic said. “And priests who do abuse children deserve to be treated like anyone else.”

In 2018, after a list of “predator priests” in Pennsylvania was made public, Malesic strongly condemned church sexual abuse and apologized for it. The  Pennsylvania grand jury report, released in August of that year, named more than 300 priests who had allegedly committed sexual abuse across six Catholic diocese in Pennsylvania.  In a statement released days ahead of the report, the Greensburg diocese apologized and voiced its support for abuse survivors. It also released a list of clergy with “credible allegations against them.”

In the following days,  Malesic responded in a homily.

“Those priests acted as wolves among us even if they were dressed in sheep’s clothing. I am sorry for that,” he said, according to WESA in Pittsburgh. “In fact, honestly, I am extremely angry at them for what they did to you.”

He later created a Safe Environment Advisory Council for the Diocese of Greensburg and a Comprehensive Reconciliation Initiative to compensate and support those who had been abused.

Malesic will be installed at a mass at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Cleveland in September, overseeing a flock of 680,000 Catholics in the diocese.

He will celebrate Mass, which will be live streamed, at noon Thursday at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Cleveland.

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Annie Wu is the deputy editor of digital content for Ideastream Public Media.