The subject of child sexual abuse is one that rightfully has been the focus of intense media attention in recent years. It is a problem that, unfortunately, extends far beyond the Diocese of Buffalo and far beyond the Church. Yet despite the intense media coverage, many of the important facts regarding the scourge of child sexual abuse and the response of the Church and our diocese are either unmentioned or misstated in the news. I write today to correct some of those errors.
There is much that I appreciate about being a resident of New York state, especially the many wonderful people I’ve come to know since Pope Benedict XVI sent me here to western New York back in 2012. I even enjoy the winter weather – well, for the most part!
My column will be brief this month, as I want to leave space for an important statement from the priests who serve our diocese as vicars or members of the Presbyteral Council.
Perhaps you caught some of the recent Plenary Assembly of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, held in Baltimore from Nov. 12 through Nov. 15.
As a priest of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, I am concerned with the healing of both adult and child victims of abuse. I desire the reconciliation and the healing of the divisions in our Diocese. I long for the sanctification of the Clergy and the growth in holiness of all of the People of God. With all of this in mind: Here are three reasons why I support the Most Reverend Bishop Richard J. Malone to remain as bishop of Buffalo and lead us through the next two and a half years.
As we move through this extremely difficult time in the Church's history, at the forefront of my mind each day and foremost in my prayers are all victims who have suffered at the hands of clergy they trusted. My heart hurts and I share in the anger, grief and disappointment felt by so many. This crisis has shaken our community of believers to its core. But as Jesus said in Matthew 19:26, "With man this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible." Those words couldn't be truer. We as human beings are completely inept to do anything on our own, but with God, there is hope.
It is important that I once again address the topic which has caused so much pain for so many. You do not need me to remind you that grave sins and crimes committed by a small percentage of clergy have had wide-ranging and long-lasting effects both here in our diocese and in the worldwide Church. I am convinced that the best way to respond to complaints of past abuse and to restore trust in the Church and her clergy is to be as open and as transparent as reasonably possible in addressing the complaints and taking action against offending priests.
The following is a statement from Bishop Richard J. Malone, on Sunday, August 26, outlining new actions to help handle cases of clerical sexual abuse against both children and adults in the Diocese of Buffalo:
The following is a statement from Bishop Richard J. Malone which was read to the faith community of St. Mary of Swormville:
As I write this column, I'm just home from some restful days back in Massachusetts, where I lived for 58 of my 72 years until I was called to Maine and then Western New York. It is always a grace to reconnect with cherished people and places, and to enjoy for a few days the beautiful and calming sight, sound and smells of the Atlantic Ocean.
Recent attention in local media has been given to the joyful news of the ordination of four men as priests for service in our diocese, and, on the other hand, to the tragic story of past clergy abuse of minors. While we rejoice with our new priests, and share the sadness and anger of abuse victims - while continuing our commitment a to safe environment for our young people - we must not lose sight of other important matters that call out to our consciences.
There has been mention recently in the local media about the advocacy efforts of the Catholic bishops of New York State at the State Capitol in Albany. The Diocese of Buffalo, with the seven other dioceses of New York state, is represented in Albany by the New York State Catholic Conference, the official voice of the Catholic Church in our state. The conference represents the bishops in working with government to shape laws and policies that pursue social justice, respect for life, and the common good.
"In her voyage across the ocean of this world, the Church is like a great ship being pounded by the waves of life's different stresses. Our duty is not to abandon ship, but to keep her on her course."
As we continue to deal with the impact of the revelation of clerical
sexual abuse allegations in our diocese, there is so much I need and
want to say.
Reprinted with permission, the text of Bishop Richard J. Malone's Chrism Mass homily, delivered at St. Joseph Cathedral in Buffalo on March 27, 2018.
Each year, the annual Mass and March for Life in Washington, D.C., is
becoming more and more a kind of youth and young adult event. Of
course, we're grateful to all the old timers (like me) who continue to
attend. I am extremely proud of our Catholic colleges and high schools
that send delegations each year to witness to the sacredness of human
life. If your school was represented this year, thank you. If not, why
not? See you next year, maybe?
When I mentioned to a friend that I intended to write this month's
column on the new evangelization, he accused me of having an obsession -
a "holy" obsession, he qualified - with that theme. I told him that if I
do indeed have such an obsession, it is because I am convinced that the
work of helping people encounter Jesus Christ and His saving message is
the primary mission of the Church ... at this time, and at all
times. Evangelization is, as Blessed Paul VI declared in his 1976
encyclical "Evangelii Nuntiandi," the "deepest identity" of the Church.
The Church, he wrote, "exists in order to evangelize" (#14).
"What was the best part of your pilgrimage to Ireland?" I've heard
that question a dozen times since our return from the "land of saints
and scholars." The short answer is, the simple fact that I finally got
there, for the first time, and just months before my 72nd birthday. Too
long a wait, to be sure, but well worth it in every way. It was a truly
blessed journey of faith and prayer, joy and beauty, history and ...
If each of the months of the year were assigned a quality, it might
be said that March is lucky and July is independent, but November is
always grateful. Although the Thanksgiving holiday comes at the end of
November, it lends an atmosphere of gratitude to the entire month. This
month also marks the end of the Church's liturgical year, while the
calendar year begins the last stretch toward the finish line. Thus, it
is a fitting time to reflect on all that we have to be thankful for.
On World Mission Sunday, October 22, our celebration leads us to hear
of our Christian faith - leads us to mission, as Pope Francis explains
in his message for this year's celebration.