Monday, January 09, 2017 - Updated: 5:58 am
NEWARK, N.J. — The chasm between faith and life is the greatest challenge facing the Catholic Church today, Cardinal Joseph Tobin said at his installation Mass, and he urged the church to be salt for the earth so that the presence of Christ does not become "a comforting, nostalgic memory."
Delivering the homily during the liturgy Jan. 6, the feast of the Epiphany, Cardinal Tobin said he wanted to head off "a growing trend that seems to isolate us, convincing us to neatly compartmentalize our lives" as people attend Mass on Sunday and then doing "whatever we think we need to do to get by" the rest of the week.
Cardinal Tobin said his appointment reminded him "that stakes are incredibly high" as he assumes leadership of the richly diverse Archdiocese of Newark.
"If we permit the chasm between faith and life to continue to expand, we risk losing Christ, reducing him simply to an interesting idea of a comforting, nostalgic memory. And if we lose Christ, the world has lost the salt, light and leaven that could have transformed it," he said.
He recalled how the church is "the place where believers speak and listen to each other, and it is the community of faith that speaks with and listens to the world. The church senses a responsibility for the world, not simply as yet another institutional presence or a benevolent NGO, but as a movement of salt, light and leaven for the world's transformation. For this reason, our kindness must be known to all."
The installation took place before more than 2,000 people at Newark's towering Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart. Cardinal Tobin concelebrated the Mass with six other cardinals and more than 60 archbishops and bishops. Five hundred priests and deacons also participated.
After a 30-minute processional, Archbishop John Myers, retired archbishop of Newark, welcomed participants and took special note of members of Cardinal Tobin's religious community, the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, his mother, Marie Terese Tobin, and his extended family. Cardinal Tobin, 64, is the eldest of 13 children.
Archbishop Christophe Pierre, papal nuncio to the United States, recalled when St. John Paul visited Newark in 1995, he described the nearby Statue of Liberty as a symbol of "the nation America aspires to be." Archbishop Pierre told Cardinal Tobin, "We are confident that in imitation of the Good Shepherd, your episcopal ministry will be both hospitable and welcoming."
The nuncio read the apostolic mandate from Pope Francis to the College of Consultors to authorize Cardinal Tobin as the new archbishop of Newark. The letter noted that Cardinal Tobin carried out his episcopal responsibility to his flock in Indianapolis for four years "with prudence, decision-making and much learning." It also commended him to the protection of St. Patrick and St. Elizabeth, patrons of the archdiocese.
Carrying the unfurled scroll with the mandate raised high in front of him, Cardinal Tobin walked down the main aisle and was greeted with sustained applause.