10/24/2013 3:28:00 PM IN HIS OWN WORDS: Excerpts from Bishop's monthly columns in The Evangelist, 1990-99
1990, on parish visits: "Recently, I completed the first year of the pastoral visitations I committed myself to undertake in my 1988 pastoral letter, 'We are God's Priestly People.' The entire visitation program has been a most informative, inspiring and enriching experience for me....Four general areas of vital interest invariably emerged. The four are vocations to the ordained ministry and vowed life, religious education of our children and young adults, adult education and evangelization."
1991, advocating for school choice, particularly for disadvantaged students: "Extending choice in education to both public and non-public schools increasingly has come to the fore as a key ingredient to reverse the malaise which affects so many of our schools....Catholic schools, with their emphasis on values, discipline, academic excellence and parental accountability, are able to turn out quality graduates who are on a par with or who exceed the performance of public school students."
1992, on prayer: "Prayer, quite simply, is conversation: conversation with one we love who we know loves us in return...conversation with one we trust and with whom we desire to share our innermost thoughts and feelings. This is not something that can be taught, practiced or rehearsed, any more than we can teach someone to fall in love or to develop a friendship....As far as I am concerned, all that is truly necessary for meaningful prayer in our life is that it be personal and human."
1993, on President Clinton's healthcare reform proposal: "Health care must be seen as a basic human right available to all people, regardless of their social, economic or legal status. It is patently clear that there is a need for healthcare reform.... Make no mistake about it: It's not only the poor who cannot afford adequate health insurance; it's the middle-income working Americans, as well."
1994, on pastoral planning in the Albany Diocese: "This weekend, a pulpit letter will [announce] the initiation of a diocesan-wide Pastoral Planning process. This process is designed to serve and staff adequately our parish communities in the face of a declining number of priests and the shifting population base from the cities to the suburban and rural areas of our Diocese.
"If words can become tired, 'collaboration' would be absolutely exhausted....For true collaboration to take place...prayer is of the utmost importance....A mutual understanding of collaboration is necessary....Honest dialogue is essential....Openness is a wonderful gift....An ability to compromise when possible is important....A commitment to the collaborative process indicates that the participating individuals are mutually committed to discussion, planning and implementation."
1995, on the need for welfare reform: "On the rational level, policy-makers are seeking to address the aspects of the welfare system which foster dependency and contribute to a permanent underclass where lack of family stability, child abuse, drug usage and inferior education perpetuate the vicious cycle of poverty. On the emotional level, however, there is the cry of frustrated citizens who feel that they are bearing the brunt of a system out of control."
1996, decrying euthanasia: "The teaching of our Church [on life issues] is quite clear. We believe: that human life is the gift of a loving God to be cherished and respected because every human being is made in the image and likeness of God; that we are stewards of life; and that in heeding God's command, 'Thou shalt not kill,' we recognize that we cannot dispose of human life as we please."
1997, on lay ministry: "Lay people are now assuming so many of the tasks which were once an exclusive domain of the clergy and religious....This is in accord with the Scriptural understanding that all the baptized are to use our gifts and talents for building up the body of Christ and for enabling the Church to fulfill its mission to the world."
1998, on meeting with Pope John Paul II: "I noted that Albany is 150 miles north of New York. He asked me to translate that into kilometers. Flustered, I searched my mind frantically and then blurted out 600 kilometers (actually, it's about 240), or, I noted, about three hours by car. (My God, the Pope must think that I am a more reckless driver than even my unfortunate, albeit deserved reputation for pushing the speed limit warrants!) Perhaps sensing my embarrassment and seeking to minimize it, our Holy Father remarked on what a young bishop I am. He was quite surprised to learn I have been a bishop for 21 years."
1999, on challenges facing Catholics in the new millennium: "1. The challenge of overcoming poverty, social injustice and a grave disrespect for human life. 2. Multiculturalism....[Will America's attitude] be one of cultural colonialism and religious arrogance, or one of cultural pluralism and genuine religious dialogue and tolerance? 3. Unity in diversity...more effective models of collegiality between Episcopal [bishops'] conferences and the Holy See. 4. Lifelong faith formation and evangelization."