Thursday May 24, 2018
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Dear Friends:
When I was in seminary many years ago, one of our assigned readings was a book by Father Avery Dulles, S.J. titled, "Models of the Church."  Using Tom Kuhn's sociological understanding of a model as an interpretive way of understanding the shared life of people, Father Dulles proposed five models that could open up the meaning of Church and its mission: The Church as (1) Institution, (2) Mystical Communion, (3) Sacrament, (4) Herald and (5) Servant.  Teaching deacons in the formation program in Seattle I stressed that often several – if not all five – were operating in many parishes.  I would have them identify the implicit models out of which their priests as well as key volunteers expressed the ministry of Jesus Christ.  Fr. Dulles later revised his book to include a sixth model: (6) Community of Disciples.

In seminary I had Father Dulles for a class on "Faith and Revelation" and even had the chance to plan his "retirement" party from Catholic University, when I headed the Theological Student Association.  Father Dulles went on to teach at other Jesuit institutions as well as to provide numerous talks and lectures.  He also went on to become a Cardinal, participating in the conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI.
I raise all this as background because a fellow Jesuit – Pope Francis – has introduced, if not another model, a very provocative image of Church:  the Church as a "Field Hospital."  Father Robert Barron closes the article noting that some in the secular culture have viewed the Pope's comments – incorrectly – as a dialing back of a robust social justice teaching anchored in the beginning and end of life issues (abortion and euthanasia) and that some – even in the pro-life movement – have expressed concern about the Holy Father's comments.  But Father Barron suggests the interpretive key is the Holy Father's opening self-definition as a sinner who has found grace and conversion.  
In a similar vein, recently in a radio interview I was asked the question, "How do you feel – Bishop Tyson – now that the Holy Father has 'dialed back the teachings' on abortion and euthanasia?"  
"The Holy Father has not dialed back any of the Church's teachings," I responded.  "Rather he has proposed to all of us that the doorway to a robust embrace of the Church's steep demands in the areas of sexual morality, social justice and family life comes by FIRST proclaiming Christ and his singular love for everyone.  That's the message we want to uplift."
Read the complete article by Father Robert Barron by clicking here on this link.
Thanks, too, for all you and your leaders do across our parishes in uplifting the life-changing message of Christ's love and the way in which it can lead us to change our hearts in favor of the gift of life.