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NEWARK, N.J. (ChurchMilitant.com) - In a recent interview with America magazine, Cdl. Joseph Tobin discussed his commitment to Pope Francis' mission and his views on human sexuality and gender roles.
Jesuit Fr. Matt Malone, editor in chief of America, spoke Tuesday with Cdl. Joseph Tobin of the archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey, in a streamed discussion titled "Pope Francis and the Future of the American Church," which is described as "an evening discussion on the vision of Pope Francis and the present state and future of the American Catholic Church."
In a causal question-answer format, Malone asked Tobin about Pope Francis, deaconesses, the clergy sex abuse crisis, the Trump administration and current polarization among Catholics.
"A rethinking of the mystery of human sexuality is important, is incumbent. It is not going to be done in a weekend," said Tobin as he rubbed his nose while thinking of his next words: "We have to be able to ask questions of each other as we go forward, and listen."
Malone described two opposing voices in the Church: "Pope Francis is changing the Church ― boo; Pope Francis is changing the Church ― yay," and asked Tobin if he thinks the Pope is changing the Church.
Tobin did not answer the question directly with a "yes" or "no," but discussed a link between Pope Francis and the Second Vatican Council:
Well, I don't think it is a sort of personal project of the Holy Father. I think he is trying to respond to the call that he was given by the conclave in 2013, and in doing so, I think he is responding in close linkage especially with the Second Vatican Council. I think he makes it clear that the force of the council in his life and in his ministry, and I think, in his vision for the future.
At one point, Tobin talked about Pope Francis "playing a long game" on some stuff, but did not specify on which stuff:
I think he is playing a long game on some stuff. I think the whole question of synodality in the Church is essential for his vision of the future and I think that little things he has done, at least in my perception, all feed into that, and that is going to be the difference going forward.
Tobin never gave a clear answer on deaconesses one way or the other, but he did talk about the need for more female involvement in the Catholic Church:
What really keeps me awake at night is that the women are leaving faster, and I don't know if that has ever happened in human history. And I think the ones who can speak most eloquently to women are women themselves. So, we need that. And we do have models ― people like Carolyn Woo did so much in academia, but then really brought great gifts to bear on the poor in Catholic Relief Services. … I think it is interesting that the three great charitable arms of the Catholic Church [Catholic Relief Services, Catholic Charities, USA and Catholic Health Association of the United States] in this country are all headed by women.
Tobin has drawn some criticism for his commentary on rethinking human sexuality in light of his heavy pro-LGBT involvement, including blessing an LGBT pilgrimage to the cathedral in Newark, New Jersey.
A notice going out to all priests of the archdiocese of Detroit listed Tobin, a native of Detroit, as a speaker at this year's convocation, "Unleash the Gospel: Sent on Mission," being held Oct. 13–17 at the Boyne Mountain Resort in Boyne, Michigan.