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.
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.
It was not that many weeks ago that our country experienced what
could be described as "eclipse mania" with people embarking upon eclipse
road trips and doing all they could to obtain safe eyewear for eclipse
viewing. This type of communal sky gazing is not a common occurrence in
our modern world. We are more apt to be focused on the beeping
smartphones in our hands than the broad sky above us. But on one
afternoon in late August, we were all united in this upward gaze.
Please allow me to update you on something you
may have seen in the news today, and about which you may have questions.
"Be Not Afraid" has been a consistent theme of St. John Paul II and Pope
Francis and one that has particular urgency today. This year's theme
for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Respect Life
Program fills us with encouragement and hope and calls us to love,
defend and celebrate all human life. It calls us to joyfully follow the
example of Christ, to love without limits, and further, to act on that
sense of true Christian charity.
"I pray for all the victims of these days. May the blind violence of
terrorism no longer find room to exist in the world." - Pope Francis
Finland. Barcelona and Cambrils, Spain. Charlottesville, Virginia.
Stockholm, Sweden. Paris, France. Manchester and London, England. The
Middle East, Africa ... and Buffalo. There are so much more, just in
recent months, including 3,000 preborn children's lives snuffed out
through abortion every day in the United States.
As I write this column, I am in Massachusetts, the "land of my birth,"
where I have been blessed to step out of the whirlwind for a few quiet
summer days of R and R. I should add a third R to Rest and Relaxation,
as a vacation priority for me always is to catch up on Reading.
Do you sometimes wonder, though, why so many people, maybe even
beloved relatives or friends, can't seem to find that joy that comes
from knowing Jesus?
Late on Easter afternoon, driving east on the Thruway, I stopped for
coffee. The woman at the counter asked me, "How was your Easter?" A
gracious, well-intended expression of hospitality, but ... was? How was
my Easter? ... and this on Easter Day! I said, "My Easter is great,
thank you, and it will be for the next 50 days. I pray it will be for
you, too." I never miss a teachable moment, in this case, an opportunity
to make a simple reference to the Great 50 Days, the season from Easter
to Pentecost when the Church basks in the radiance of the Risen Lord
and longs for a new coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
By Bishop Richard J. Malone
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 get me started on what popular American
culture has done to the Vigil of the Solemnity of all Saints ... better
known, sadly, as Halloween.