At the annual Chrism Mass, clergy renewed their priestly promises, oils were blessed, chrism was consecrated and Bishop Richard J. Malone reaffirmed his commitment to safe environments within the Diocese of Buffalo. The Mass drew diocesan clergy and congregants to St. Joseph Cathedral in downtown Buffalo Tuesday, April 16.
"I truly believe, at this time, in our Catholic parishes, schools and organizations, are probably the safest environment for our young people of the Church," Bishop Malone said in his homily, as stories about the diocesan response to the sexual abuse crisis continue to make headlines. "I say that not only with hope, but with confidence."
"In our church, the trauma from abuse, loss of trust, betrayal and people walking away; all of this tragic symptoms of the erosion of reverence for human life and the protection of human dignity from life's beginning to its end and every single moment in-between ... We must hear and embrace with profound humility, we priests, as we recall with regret and shame that too many of those hearts and minds were broken by some of our brother priests over many long decades, and their victims were not always treated well by the Church."
The Chrism Mass is an opportunity for all the priests of the diocese to come to the cathedral and renew their commitment to their ordination. As a result, the bishop spent much of his homily delivering his message to the present clergy, reaffirming their mission and vocation within the Church.
"We best never forget, Mother Teresa's wise and simple (words), that the renewal of the Church depends first upon the renewal of the priesthood, the purification of each of us beginning with ourselves," he said. "We are called to shepherd, to be those heralds of hope, those restorers of joy. We are anointed to do that on the day of our ordination. Soon the chrism that we consecrate tonight will be used to anoint eight fine young men as new priests to serve our diocese. This is our call."
At the beginning of his homily, Bishop Malone quoted the medal given to him during the papal visit of Pope Francis in 2015: "I see the Church as a field hospital. Heal the wounds." Bishop Malone is trying to make moves to heal the wounded, as he recently began consulting with the Movement to Restore Trust, a lay group of Catholics looking offering a series of procedural changes in how the diocese handles abuse cases.
"I believe it is working with the Holy Spirit in the life of our Church," Bishop Malone said. "Our partnership with them with strengthen our outreach and help us care more compassionately for those who are hurt, will help to enhance transparency, balanced with the rights of those whose accusations were unable to be substantiated."
The Mass also serves as a diocesan-wide blessing of oils and consecration of chrism, which is then distributed to the priests of the diocese to bring back to their home parish. The chrism is used to anoint in baptism and ordinations. In addition, candidates for baptism are anointed with the oil of the catechumens. Those who are ill receive anointing with the oil of the sick.
Members of the elect and catechumens were present at the Chrism Mass were welcomed and dismissed for private reflection prior to the Eucharist. They will be fully initiated into the Church during the Easter Vigil Mass.