By Bishop Richard J. Malone
As I write this February blog, I am with my brother bishops from
across New York state on our annual five-day retreat. I must confess a
bit of guilt that I am disregarding the strong suggestion of our Jesuit
retreat master that we all disconnect from diocesan business and shut
down our iPhones so as to listen more attentively to the Holy Spirit.
Even in my quiet prayer, though, I have been so distracted by two
looming concerns that I finally suspected that maybe the Lord was
nudging me to deal with them even while on retreat.
Jan. 1, 2017, marks the 50th World Day of Peace, which is an observance
that was initiated by Pope Paul VI. In his message for this 50th World
Day of Peace, Pope Francis invites us to reflect on "nonviolence as a
style of politics for peace."
As I write these words to you, we are experiencing the end of two
long-term events: the presidential election and the Jubilee Year of
Mercy. While the close of the Year of Mercy is bittersweet, the end of
the election could not come soon enough. Yet the close proximity of
these two closures offers us much food for thought and reflection.
It's a common experience for bishops. Often enough, after we have
addressed some controversial moral issue (which may also be a neuralgic
political issue), we get mail. This intensifies during an election
season. No surprise there.
By Bishop Richard J. Malone
I haven't met many people who are not by now exasperated, confounded
and dismayed by the ongoing presidential election campaign. Ordinarily
in an election year I would be looking forward to the day after the
election; at least the war of words would be (pretty much) behind us.
This time, however, I expect that I will feel no better about the
national situation then than I do right now, a few weeks away from Nov.
8. In fact, I may feel worse. I say that in a completely nonpartisan
spirit. As an FYI, I have been an independent (undeclared is the
official word, I guess) voter for over four decades. Over those many
years, I have sometimes voted for Democrats, sometimes for Republicans.
This year, as with just about every election, neither of the major
presidential candidates completely aligns with all of our key Catholic
"Moved by Mercy" has been a consistent theme of 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.
For a few weeks now, the "back to school" ads have been signaling the
waning of summertime (for which I, a cold weather aficionado, am very
grateful this year - apologies to you heat lovers out there!)
It was American Protestant theologian Reinhold Niebuhr who famously
declared that the Christian teaching on original sin is "the only
empirically verifiable doctrine of the Christian faith."
might be debated that original sin is the "only" empirically verifiable
Christian doctrine, there can be little doubt that there is plenty of
evidence to validate the Church's teaching about the fact and
consequences of original sin. Just read the papers and view the evening
TV news. And, if you dare, look into the mirror of your own conscience.
If we care about addressing poverty, promoting the well-being of
children, building stronger communities—we must at the same time care
about strengthening marriages and families. The social science is clear
on this point.
But a decisive question must be faced in order to move forward: What is marriage?
Pope Francis has given to the Church four major teaching documents - two encyclical letters and two apostolic exhortations. We can add to these his announcement of a Jubilee Year of Mercy. In each of these documents, the pope invites us to deeper, stronger, and more authentic ways of living our faith as friends and followers of Jesus Christ sent on mission to bring the Gospel to the world. Consider a few examples ...
By Bishop Richard J. Malone on
5/4/2016 9:26 AM
Pope Francis' eagerly awaited
apostolic exhortation, fruit of the two Vatican synods on marriage and
family, has arrived. It is titled "Amoris Laetitia," or the "Joy of
Love." The title, as is the custom with major papal documents, is taken
from the text's first line: "The joy of love experienced by families is
also the joy of the Church." (This sentence is reminiscent of the first
line of Vatican II's Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern
World ("Gaudium et Spes") which reads "The joys and the hopes, the
griefs and anxieties of the people of this age ... these too are the
joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ."
While the Holy Father does not avoid the
difficulties and challenges experienced in family life - in fact he
address them candidly and straight on - "The Joy of Love" is from
beginning to end a celebration of the gift of marriage and family to the
Church and, indeed, to the world.
By Bishop Richard J. Malone 3/2/2016
homily this year begins with a question addressed to the confirmands: If
you were on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence
to convict you? In more direct terms, what is different about my life
because I am a Christian, a Catholic? Can those who know me tell the
difference Jesus makes in my life? Can I?
Lent is the graced season to take an honest look at the authenticity and
quality of our discipleship. How intentional are we in our following
of Christ? How faithful is our living of the Gospel? How grateful are
we for the gift of faith? How eager am I to share the joy of the Gospel
with others? And ... can I admit that, yes, I am a sinner?
By Bishop Richard J. Malone 1/5/2016
The motto for this Jubilee Year of
Mercy is, "Merciful like the Father." What will we allow this to mean in
our lives? With God? With one another?
- Vatican II declared: "Upon the Muslims,
too, the Church looks with esteem." How dare any American suggest that
refugees who profess the faith of Islam be prohibited from entry into
the United States solely on that basis?
- Studies show that teens who practice the faith most often have parents who practice the faith.
- Pray for vocations to the priesthood, consecrated life, diaconate and Christian marriage!
- College and university students: seek out and become active in your school's campus ministry community!
By Bishop Richard J. Malone 12/17/2015
this month from Baltimore, where the bishops of the United States are
gathered for our annual Fall Plenary Meeting. As we concelebrated the
Eucharist early this Sunday morning. I offered Mass for all of you who
constitute the community of faith that is the Diocese of Buffalo. (Did
you know that diocesan bishops offer one Mass each Sunday and holy day
of obligation pro populo, that is, "for the people," just as pastors are
required to do weekly for their parishioners?)
Sunday Mass was different for me. Before I went down to the large hotel
meeting room that serves as our chapel, I was watching continuing TV
coverage of the horrific massacre in Paris perpetrated by ISIS
terrorists and resulting in 129 people killed and 352 injured. Sitting
quietly in the chapel for the half hour before Mass, I struggled to put
aside, at least for that next hour, the emotions of shock, anger,
sadness and, yes, anxiety that were roiling my soul.
By Bishop Richard J. Malone 11/23/2015
all been horrified by the senseless terrorist attacks in Paris. Join
me in fervent prayer for victims of the massacre, for justice for ISIS
leaders and killers, and for world peace.
there have been calls to close our borders to Syrian refugees fleeing
the ravages of civil war, we cannot simply close our doors to refugees
simply because they are from Syria. But we must remain vigilant.
Careful screening of all who wish to enter this country is needed.
Francis' concern for refugees and immigrants is very well known, as we
see in this recent comment: "Facing the tragedy of tens of thousands of
refugees - fleeing death by war and famine, and journeying towards the
hope of life - the Gospel calls, asking of us to be close to the
smallest and forsaken. To give them a concrete hope," he said. "And not
just to tell them, 'Have courage, be patient!'"