As Bishop Richard Malone became the 14th bishop of Buffalo, N.Y., on Aug. 10, he outlined the need for martyrs who will witness to Jesus Christ through "a daily dying to self."
Bishop Malone, the former bishop of Portland, Maine, noted that his installation on the feast of St. Lawrence, who was martyred by fire, and the day after the feast of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, the Jewish convert and philosopher Edith Stein who was murdered by the Nazis.
The bishop said in his homily that a martyr is a witness whose discipleship is "so authentic, so deep, so uncompromising, so credible, that he or she is willing, with God’s grace, to give all, to surrender all to Christ, and the truth Christ is revealed."
The martyr is willing to do this "in the face of fear, loss, scorn, misunderstanding, rejection, suffering, even death" in response to "Christ’s love poured out for us on the cross."
Many prominent bishops attended Bishop Malone’s installation Mass at Buffalo’s St. Joseph Cathedral.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, Cardinal Seán O'Malley of Boston and Cardinal Edward Egan presided at the Mass. Over 24 U.S. and Canadian bishops were among those who concelebrated.
Papal nuncio Archbishop Carlo Viganò was to have read the letter from Pope Benedict XVI that named Bishop Malone as the new head of the diocese, but his attendance was delayed.
In his homily, Bishop Malone said that some martyrs’ lives "rise to a dramatic climax," but most Christians witness through their "persevering commitment to Christ and to the Gospel. "
However, this can be attempted only with "profound hope and even, paradoxically, real joy," the bishop continued.
He cited the Mass reading from the Gospel of John in which Jesus said a seed must die to live. "Not to die is to remain fruitless, unproductive, truly dead," Bishop Malone said.
He stressed the need to reach out to inactive Catholics and to evangelize to transform individuals in Christ. Evangelization, he said, also aims to transform "our increasingly secular culture into a civilization of love and a culture of life."
He noted the need to respect human life, to respect marriage as a union of one man and one woman "open to new life," to respect religious liberty, and to show compassion to the poor and to immigrants.
"We need the martyrs’ conviction and courage, tenacity and selflessness, and, yes, hope, to stand up in our increasingly relativistic society in defense of these truths and values so threatened in our time," the bishop exhorted.
Bishop Malone succeeds Bishop Edward Kmiec, whose retirement took effect Friday.
On Aug. 9, the incoming bishop of Buffalo presided over Evening Prayer at downtown Buffalo’s St. Lois Church, with more than 200 diocesan and religious priests from Buffalo, Maine and Boston.