10/24/2013 3:33:00 PM IN HIS OWN WORDS: Excerpts from Bishop's monthly columns in The Evangelist, 2000-2013
2000, on ecumenism and interfaith progress: "The common Christian family that Jesus intends remains badly broken. In this sense, every Christian is a child of divorce....I hope that during this Jubilee Year, we will rejoice in the ecumenical strides that have been made toward putting aside our crippling historical resentments, petty competitiveness and theological differences, and that we will go forward with a renewed sense of commitment to responding to the urgent call for Christian unity."
2001, from remarks at an interfaith prayer service following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the U.S.: "The President...vowed that 'ours will not be an age of terror, but an age of liberty.' It must, however, be a liberty that seeks justice, not vengeance; a liberty that will not engage in ethnic, religious or national stereotyping because of the irrational behavior of some terrorists and their misguided supporters...It will take all of the love, zeal, talent, maturity and experience we possess if we are to respond to this crisis as God desires and as the challenge itself so urgently demands."
2002, on the clergy sexual abuse crisis: "I ask for your prayers that the Holy Spirit will inspire and guide us to make appropriate decisions and develop effective policies that will protect children, bring healing to victims and restore trust in the bishops of our Church....It is important that we as a Church take this scandal as an opportunity to do more education of our clergy, religious and laity about child abuse to help develop education and prevention programs which will address the frightening problem of child sexual abuse within our society."
2003, on homelessness: "In our nation of unparalleled affluence and resources...we have an escalating problem of homelessness among both individuals and families....High housing costs, coupled with low wages, force people to make choices that affect their stability: for example, paying rent versus buying medicine, food or warm clothing. These choices rob people of their dignity and crush their hopes."
2004, on being cleared of all charges of abuse: "Four months ago, I came before you to say that I have honored my commitment to celibacy, that I have never abused anyone in any way and that I have told the truth.
"It has been a profoundly painful and disillusioning experience to be falsely accused....
This has been the greatest trial of my adult life. But every day of the last four months has been brightened by my brothers and sisters in our Church, and by the hundreds of people in the community, persons of all faiths, who reached out to me in friendship and prayer.
"I have come, in the past few months, to recognize its value in my life. I now more fully appreciate the role of suffering in our human existence."
2005, on the tsunami that killed 170,000 people across Asia: "As followers of Jesus, we must be people of hope...people who are more determined in our defense of human rights and human dignity...more passionate in our pursuit of racial justice and social equality...more resolute in our attempts to establish genuine Christian community...more vigorous in our sensibilities...more enthusiastic in our causes...and more humane and compassionate in our ministry of healing and reconciliation."
2006, outlining "Called to be Church" planning for the future of the Diocese: "We must view pastoral planning and change through a positive lens that is life-giving and evokes a deeper relationship to what is sound, good and holy - through a lens that is freeing.
"Fear is the enemy of change and planning. Fear narrows our vision and blinds us to a larger view of reality; it causes us to grasp and cling to the past and to a dream that simply cannot come true....Fear has the power to paralyze our thoughts and actions. Decisions that are fear-based tend to be reactive and premised on survival, rather than on mission and conversion."
2007, on actor Sidney Poitier's spiritual autobiography: "Mr. Poitier notes that our lives must be rooted in the spiritual....There is a growing anti-religious sentiment within our nation today...[that] is also evident in efforts to promote legislation that is contrary to the century-old beliefs of many faith traditions and in the attempts to remove religion from the public square, tolerating its presence only in the private realm, and, even then, only when it remains on its best behavior, in its blandest and most impotent form."
2008, on climate change: "What can we do practically to help defuse this environmental 'time bomb'? We can urge our elected officials to support state, national and international initiatives that are underway for reducing greenhouse gases, setting up carbon markets, promoting technological investment and transition, arresting deforestation and providing poorer countries with the resources needed to cope with environmental pollution....We can encourage the business community to heed the clarion call to care for Earth by employing cleaner fuels and carbon-free technologies....Our parish and Church institutions should also be accountable by doing energy audits [and] installing sun-blocking screens and solar panels....Each of us can examine our own lifestyles."
2009, on deacons: "The diaconate is a ministry of service, in imitation of Christ who came 'not to be served, but to serve.' In the Book of Acts, the diaconal ministry was established by the Apostles to assist them in their ministry of distributing food and of caring for the widowed, whom some complained were being neglected. Deacons...are called to be icons of service."
2010, on Dec. 2009 trip with National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East: "I prayed before the [Western] Wall and followed the ancient custom of putting a sheet of paper in a crevice of the wall, containing specific prayers. My prayer requests were for the people of our Diocese, for peace in the Mideast, for wisdom and guidance on behalf of our spiritual and governmental leaders, for the success of our mission, for an increase in vocations to the priesthood and religious life, for an end to poverty created by unjust structures and climate change and for my own personal intentions.
"The third-grade class of Skano Elementary School, which includes my grandniece, Rachel Ruddy...asked that I remember their class....I also prayed for Jonathan Schwartz, a young man who I know from his days at LaSalle Institute in Troy and who is presently serving in Iraq."
2011, on the failings of the Church: "The scandal of clergy sexual abuse is not only that a number of priests betrayed the sacred bond of trust by sexually abusing minors but, more significantly, there is a disillusionment and loss of faith created by the way we bishops engaged in negligent retention....There is anger, hurt, pain and bitterness experienced by parishioners who have lost their spiritual home as a result of the closures and mergers of the 'Called to be Church' pastoral planning process....
A number of readers mentioned that they or family members have left the Church because of the manner in which they were treated by a priest, deacon or lay representative....Some priests and deacons preach on topics unrelated to the daily realities of their hearers....Many Catholic [web]sites...
look like they have not been redesigned in the past decade....Feeling unaccepted or exploited is often true of women, the separated or divorced, the single parent, the gay or lesbian person or those who may not accept fully the moral leadership, teaching, doctrine and practices of the Church."
2012, on Blessed Kateri's upcoming sainthood: "Blessed Kateri was a woman who understood well and accepted with patient resignation the mystery of the cross....a woman of magnificent fortitude, dogged determination and unswerving conviction.... a woman of great prayer, a woman who had a deep and abiding awareness of the Lord's love for her and an ongoing personal relationship with Him."
2013, on his 36th anniversary as Bishop: "More than 36 years ago, I was ordained and installed as the ninth bishop in this great Diocese of Albany. One of my first tasks was to select an episcopal motto. I chose 'Rejoice, We are His People.'
"I submit that without the Second Vatican Council, the contemporary challenges and problems we face would be even more exacerbated; and that the issue is not so much that the vision of the Second Vatican Council has been tried and found wanting, but that its full potential has yet to be tapped fully and unleashed.
"May we always rejoice in the wonderful treasure we have received to be sharers in the ministry of Jesus: anointed and empowered to be God's priestly people in our time and place."