Following his return from Rome this weekend, Buffalo’s Bishop Richard Malone says Pope Francis is aware of the difficult situation that both he and the diocese are facing.

In a statement released on Monday, he said that “In a few words spoken privately to me, it was clear that the pope understands the difficulties and distress we have here in Buffalo, and I personally, have been experiencing. He was very understanding and kind.”

Malone was in Rome last week with bishops from New York state for regularly scheduled ad limina meetings with the Roman Curia and Francis. Malone’s diocese has been engulfed in scandal for over year following accusations that he has covered up for priests accused of abuse.

He has repeatedly resisted calls for his resignation by priests, seminarians, and lay Catholics in the diocese of Buffalo. In October, Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio was tapped by the Holy See to lead an apostolic visitation to investigate Malone’s leadership and the broader troubles within the diocese.

DiMarzio completed his investigation at the end of October and in his statement on Monday, Malone said there is “more on that to come.”

“I am, of course, aware of the intense interest about the results of the Apostolic Visitation recently conducted here and submitted to the Holy See,” he said. “The Congregation for Bishops has received the report, which is held in strict confidentiality. I had a brief discussion with Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation.”

Despite the shadow looming over his leadership, while in Rome, Malone served as one of the principal celebrants during a Mass with New York’s bishops at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.

“In these times that appear dark, in which we sometimes feel disoriented by the evil and violence that surround us, by the distress of so many of our brothers and sisters, we need hope!” he said during his homily, quoting from Francis’s catechesis on Christian hope.

Malone described the week as “very busy but wonderful” and asked for “prayers and patience while the path forward is discerned.”

“In the meantime, be assured that I am wholly committed to fostering the healing of victim survivors, rebuilding trust, and with our clergy and other church ministers, renewing faith and carrying on the essential ministries that serve the needs of Catholics and of the larger Western New York community,” he concluded. “Thank you for your active faith. Thanks to all who continue to be supportive of our diocese, of me and my ministry.”