The Presbyteral Council and the Vicars Forane met with Bishop Richard Malone on Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018. The priests committed themselves to work together with Bishop Malone to move forward in the healing process of the victims of clergy sexual abuse, the healing of the divisions within our diocese, and hope-filled steps towards the spiritual renewal and healing of our brother priests and all in our diocese. With these goals in mind, the following actions steps are being initiated:
First, A Year of Healing will begin this Lent 2019 throughout our diocese. Each of the twelve Vicariates will take a month in which opportunities to pray for healing will take place, i.e. A Special Holy Hour. Prayers to be recited at the time of the Universal Prayer during the Mass are also being prepared to be used in every parish of our diocese. An invitation will also be extended for a Day of Prayer and Fasting for Healing to take place in all of the parishes and religious institutions throughout the Diocese of Buffalo.
Second, A Study Day for Priests on dealing with issues of due process for priests accused of sexual abuse, the priest's canoncial and civil rights, and support and accompaniment during the time of investigation and administrative leave, was agreed upon and will take place at Christ the King Seminary on Feb. 12, 2019 (1:30 -4:30pm). More details forthcoming.
Third, to move our diocese towards a new day of hope, the possibility of a Diocesan Synod was discussed as a broadly representative means by which the whole of the Church of the Diocese of Buffalo (Priests, Deacons, Consecrated Religious and the Lay Faithful) would come together and move forward with healing and growth. The Canisius Symposium, currently independent from the Diocese, was seen as a work of the Holy Spirit, which could help move us towards a Synod for the Spiritual Renewal of the Church of Buffalo. While much preparation for a Synod would be needed, this was seen as an important move to bring our Diocese forward into a more hopeful and brighter future.
The members of the Presbyteral Council and the Vicars Forane are fully committed to working together with Bishop Malone as we move forward to ensure that all victims of abuse are ministered to with compassion and healing, that our diocesan leadership along with our brother priests act in total transparency and integrity to ensure that the abuses of the past are never repeated again, and that we restore trust in our Church and our leaders.
The meeting was described by some members as a bursting forth of the light of the Holy Spirit into our hour of darkness. There is no doubt that hopes and prayers of many of our people are being answered in this. May our gracious Lord, who has begun this good work in us, bring it to fulfillment. Amen.