I want to begin by expressing my gratitude to each and every person who attended the DOB Laity Protest yesterday. It takes a great deal of conviction and zeal to commit several hours to protesting of this nature not to mention the time it took to make their signs. I am grateful to my fellow lay people for making those time commitments. Very special thanks to the survivors who joined us as their strength continues to inspire us.
With that being said, I want to publicly note that there were signs present at yesterday’s protest that troubled me greatly. Two signs particularly distressed me as they cast aspersions upon two sets of priests (one of them Bishop Malone) and suggested inappropriate relationships between them. Anyone who has followed me over the last year knows that I am not afraid to call out priests and/or prelates for actions that are morally wrong, corrupt or complicit. But I cannot support efforts to publicly attack or smear anyone based on assumptions or speculation. There are enough fact-based allegations against Bishop Malone to fill up quite a few signs for quite some time!
There were several other signs yesterday that I felt detracted from the overall message of our protest. At this challenging time, we must be as united as possible in fighting the corruption in our diocese. We must avoid anything that distracts or detracts from that central focus. Michael Whalen, my first survivor hero, gave us a perfect example of going straightforward and strong – not to mention big and bold – with his message:
Thank you, Mike, for being there and for creating the most epic protest sign I’ve ever seen! And thank you for keeping your message clear and direct. In so many ways, we protesters need to emulate Mike and another survivor who was present with us – Deacon Paul Emerson. Both of them were peaceful and amiable while also being filled with zealous courage. Special thanks to Deacon Paul for protesting with us when he could have been picnic-ing with the Bishop and his fellow deacons and the priests!
Of course, I am aware that everyone at the protest yesterday was utilizing their first amendment rights. They also may be coming from perspectives and places that have been very challenging and/or damaging. I respect every single person who was there yesterday even if I may disagree with their message or method. The very fact that I do respect them makes this all the harder.
Despite our differences, we were able to get through the afternoon without any internal incidents. I desperately wanted to avoid arguments among us as that would be the worst possible visual especially with so many priests and deacons passing us by and members of the media present. Thank you to the media for being there yesterday to document our protest and to help our voices to be heard beyond the front lawn of Christ the King Seminary.
Some of us stayed there until around 7:30 last night in the hopes that Bishop Malone might make an appearance. Knowing his prowess for sneaky escapes, I decided to get going in case he had tunneled his way out or Kathy Spangler had arranged for a Mercy Flight for him. After jumping in my car, I drove to the place I most wanted to be: one of our diocese’s Adoration Chapels. I poured out my heart to Jesus asking Him to help me navigate these turbulent times and challenging situations. That time of prayer and reflection was so restorative. It not only helped me to overcome any sadness about the day’s protest, but also inspired me to start planning the next one. Thank you, Lord, for Your guidance and grace!
As the poster below indicates, the next DOB Laity Protest will be distinctly different from the one held yesterday. For starters, I added “prayerful” before protest and have planned an hour of prayer to start us off. There will also be a moment of prayerful silence for those survivors who are no longer with us. The rosary will be offered for all survivors. Also notable is the fact that no personal signs will be permitted. I am working to have signs printed for this event – thank you to those who are assisting me in this endeavor. These signs will focus on the primary point that I believe we can all agree on and which we need to emphasize above all else: the corrupt leadership in our diocese must cease for the sake of survivors, lay people and the future of the Diocese of Buffalo.
I appeal to you, bethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. 1 Corinthians 1:10
If you are local and able to attend next week’s prayerful protest, I encourage you to do so. I believe it is essential that we, the lay people of the diocese, continue to publicly call for the leadership change that this long-suffering flock so desperately needs. It is my prayer that we will be able to accomplish this with as much unity, charity and dignity as possible.
For those who are not close by, thank you for being with us in spirit and for joining your prayers to ours. That prayer support is most important of all.
Thank you for reading this post. It was not an easy or enjoyable piece to write, but I felt it was a necessary one.