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By Bishop Richard J. Malone on 10/6/2014 9:20 AM

In the Holy Land

As most of you know, I returned recently from a Bishops’ Prayer Pilgrimage for Peace in the Holy Land.  You can read more about that experience in the October of the Western New York Catholic.  It was an intense experience that will take me some time to process, both in my mind and in my heart.  

Much of our schedule, the eight days we were there, was given over to meetings and dialogue with Palestinian and Israeli government officials, as well as Jewish, Muslim and Christian religious leaders.  We also met with parishioners and university students, and with Catholic Relief Services staff in Gaza.  
By Bishop Richard J. Malone on 9/3/2014 9:03 AM

The title of this column is borrowed from a fine book on monastic culture and spirituality by Father Jean Leclerq, OSB.  While monasticism is a blessed vocation within our Church, it is not, however, my topic this month.  The love of learning and the desire for God is.  

My prayer is that these words might serve as goal, inspiration and motivation for growth in faith for all of us Western New York Catholics as another September dawns.  As parish lifelong faith formation, Catholic schools and colleges, campus ministries, youth and young adult ministries, RCIA and other diocesan educational/formational ministries move ahead with the mission of forming disciples, I express my profound gratitude to the thousands of generous women and men – laity, religious and clergy – who faithfully lead and carry out these essential works of our diocese.
By Bishop Richard J. Malone on 7/17/2014 10:36 AM

By Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone, Archbishop William Lori, Archbishop Thomas Wenski and Bishop Richard J. Malone

The Washington Post reported July 8 that the American Civil Liberties Union and other advocacy groups were no longer supporting the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). The reason, said the executive director of one of the lead organizations: the Hobby Lobby decision opens the door for private companies to determine that “LGBT people are not equal…and fire them.”

But the Hobby Lobby decision does no such thing. The decision by the U.S. Supreme Court was an application of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which requires that, if the federal government wants to impose a “substantial burden” on the religious exercise of its citizens, it must prove that the burden serves a “compelling government interest” and does so by the means “least restrictive” of religious exercise.

The decision was the Court’s recognition that in the case of the HHS contraceptive mandate the government failed to use the “least restrictive means” of providing coverage for certain contraceptives. The Court deliberately said nothing about whether the government had a “compelling interest” in requiring that coverage. In any event, the current debate about ENDA does not focus on its interplay with RFRA, but instead on whether ENDA itself should have any exemption for religious employers – as all prior versions have – and if so, how broad it should be.

So what is really the matter with ENDA according to these groups?
By Bishop Richard J. Malone on 7/9/2014 11:13 AM

For several years, I have been following the research of Christian Smith, currently a professor and director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Society at Notre Dame University.  Smith and his colleagues began in 2001 the National Study of Youth and Religion, the most comprehensive national study ever conducted about American teens’ religious and spiritual lives.  

Smith focused his early research on a broad sample of U.S. teens ages 13-17, different in religion, age, race, sex, socioeconomic status, rural-suburban-urban residence, region of the country, and language spoken.  His first publication, “Soul Searching:  The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers,” hit the U.S. Catholic adolescent faith formation and youth ministry community, as one reviewer put it, as a “bombshell.” 
By Bishop Richard J. Malone on 6/3/2014 12:48 PM

As this school year comes to a close, all of our schools are showcasing the great work, inventive creativity and high energy that always characterize our Catholic schools.  

We held both our diocesan-wide art festival and the diocesan track meet in which our students celebrate their artistic and athletic talents.  Individual schools have honored Our Blessed Mother with May Crownings and celebrated spring First Communions.  
By Bishop Richard J. Malone on 5/28/2014 7:33 AM

I delivered the following address on Niagara Square in downtown Buffalo on May 28, 2014, in support of the Education Investment Tax Credit.

Good morning and thank you for being here … it is important that our voices are heard not only on this public square, but we must, we must be heard all the way to the halls of the State capitol in Albany:  the time for approval of the Education Investment Tax Credit is NOW - it’s that simple.

We are here to talk about promises made, and promises broken.

I was in the room with Cardinal Timothy Dolan and my brother bishops from across New York State when Governor Andrew Cuomo looked us in the eye on March 18 and assured us that as part of the budget process, this critical piece of legislation would be enacted, providing much-needed financial support to private and public schools.  The promise was made right there and then.

But when the final budget was approved, the Education Investment Tax Credit was nowhere to be seen. We still have not been given an answer as to why this happened.
By Bishop Richard J. Malone on 5/5/2014 9:27 AM

One of my philosophy professors often reminded the class that in reading philosophy--or anything, really--there is no text apart from the context.  What is the larger context when it comes to the painful subject of fewer Catholic schools?

The National Catholic Educational Association publishes annually a statistical report on Catholic school trends in the United States.  The most recent report begins with these dire words:  "Enrollment figures for the 2012-2013 school year indicate that there are 29,715 fewer students, a 1.5 percent decrease from the previous year."  It goes on to state that "While enrollment has declined in all regions of the country (24.5 percent since 2000), the largest decreases have been in the Mideast and Great Lakes areas that were populated by high concentrations of Catholic immigrants in the late 19th and 20th centuries."
By Bishop Richard J. Malone on 4/4/2014 4:25 AM

Isn’t it a curious and concerning thing that so many of our Christian feasts have been overlaid – better, co-opted – by all sorts of customs that, though nice, have little to do with the essence of those feasts? Christmas comes first to mind, which for too many folks seems more a consumer-driven winter wonderland festival than the celebration of our Savior’s birthday. And don’t let me get me started on what popular American culture has done to the vigil of the Solemnity of all Saints ... better known, sadly, as Halloween.

But let’s get back to Easter. A lot of folks on Easter will enjoy Easter egg hunts, chocolate bunnies and maybe some new clothes. Nothing wrong with that. But how many will give any real thought to the Resurrection of Christ from the dead ... and to its radical meaning for their lives?
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