Large and Messy Vs Small and Pure

Michael J. O’Loughlin, writing for America magazine, reports on the lecture given by Cardinal Joseph Tobin, Archbishop of Newark, New Jersey, at a conference being held at Villanova University in Philadelphia that is exploring the impact of Pope Francis on the Church.

In addressing the oft-seen call from some parts of the Church for a smaller and purer form of Catholicism, O’Loughlin reports the Cardinal as:

… seemingly condemned this approach to faith, characterizing it as an effort to form “small enclaves” of believers who will somehow “safeguard the treasure of the Christian tradition in its purest form from the corrosive intrusion of a corrupt society.” He said instead that engagement with the world is a Christian principle that dates back to the earliest followers of Jesus.

Cardinal Tobin said that the church is still learning how to live out the missionary call laid out by the Second Vatican Council, and he said both St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI offered examples of how to invite believers and nonbelievers alike to engage with Catholic teaching.

Reading his remarks from an electronic tablet, the cardinal said Catholics must not be afraid of engaging with the world.

“The church has no other option but to turn outward,” he said. “This turning outward extends to the human condition in its heights and depths.”

Some of that engagement may be difficult, he conceded.