Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J., Fordham’s Laurence J. McGinley Professor of Religion and Society, told an audience of Upper East Side parishioners that young Catholics today have an “openness” to their faith, but that they struggle to make a commitment to it because the modern world pulls them in so many directions.
Cardinal Dulles, who lectured on “Becoming A Community of Disciples,” to more than 100 parishioners at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola on Monday, called Catholicism an “option—but one of so many options” that young people have today, and said that outside stimuli, such as the media, are not very supportive of their faith. He said that, through retreats, volunteerism and other programs, local parishes could intensify the solidarity of the religion for today’s young parishioners.
“We [as Catholics]have to work very hard to develop in them a sense of discipleship,” he said. “We have to testify to the Catholic faith in our schools and parishes, so that they don’t continue to drift away.”
The cardinal was invited to speak at the parish by Gerald R. Blaszczak, S.J., pastor of St. Ignatius Loyola and former vice president for mission and ministry at Fordham. Father Blaszczak welcomed Cardinal Dulles by recalling an essay the cardinal wrote on his patron theologian, St. Robert Bellarmine. Father Blaszczak said the cardinal’s essay gave a “glimpse into the self” of its author, and suggested that the cardinal and the saint were both men who possessed the “greatest virtue” of loyalty to the Holy See, the church, the religious order and to God.
In his lecture, Cardinal Dulles referred to the church model of “discipleship” as having a particular relevance to parish life, and as bringing the church together by inspiring strong personal commitment among clergy and laity.