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Open Wide Your Hearts!

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.

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It's a matter of life and death

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.

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On this World Day of Peace, peace be with you and in you

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."

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Closing Out the Year of Mercy

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.

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Election Reflection II

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. 

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Election Reflection I

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 principles. 

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Join us for a celebration of life

"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.

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Back to school ... for all of us!

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!)

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On my mind ...

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."

While it 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.

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Opening our hearts to strengthening marriage

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?

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Papal priorities

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 ...

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Pope Francis on the Joy of Love: A brief appetizer for the Apostolic Exhortation

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.

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The gift of confession (Have you been lately?)

By Bishop Richard J. Malone 3/2/2016

My confirmation 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?

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New Year musings

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!

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    Take advantage of all the Jubilee Year of Mercy offers

    By Bishop Richard J. Malone 12/17/2015

    I write 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?)

    This 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.

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    Concern for refugees and immigrants

    By Bishop Richard J. Malone 11/23/2015

    We have 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.

    While 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.

    Pope 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!'"

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    Thank You All - For Being Hope

    Saint Paul concludes his Second Epistle to the Corinthians with the prayer: "The grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all." (2 Cor.13:13). So often we begin Mass with the same words. They are literally the first and the last words.

    It Will Be Difficult to Leave

    As you know by now, from the announcement on October 20th, our Holy Father Pope John Paul II has appointed me to the Archdiocese of Hartford. I did not request the appointment, but I accept it. One does not refuse an appointment from the Holy Father. I am honored and humbled by it, and grateful to the Holy Father for the confidence he has expressed in me.

    Good News for Life

    This year as we approach Respect Life Sunday, October 5th, there is significant reason for hope on the horizon. It appears that finally a partial-birth abortion ban act may become law for our country. This would be a major development. It would be the first federal law since the Supreme Court Decisions Roe v. Wade and Roe v. Bolton on January 22, 1973, to forbid an abortion procedure.

    A Call to All

    We all will recall for years where we were on Thursday afternoon, August 14, when word of the blackout spread. Fortunately, Buffalo for the most part was spared. But north, south, east, and west of us, from the Midwest and Canada to the Atlantic seaboard suffered terrible disruption.

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