NEW YORK – When Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark spoke to virtual participants in front of his computer on the second day of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Catholic Human Development Campaign on Saturday, his office windows were closed to limit outside noise. It was unusual for the 69-year-old prelate to walk in the spirit of St. John XXIII The open windows of the church are preferred.

“When I open it you will hear all kinds of things,” Tobin explained. “From boomboxing to samba, salsa to the occasional fight, but the church needs an open window to listen.”

Relying on Pope Francis’ Fratelli Tutti, Tobin stressed that it is of paramount importance for the Church to listen to people from all walks of life in order to clean up the many “rifts and tears” in our society caused by the COVID-19 pandemic caused.

Tobin spoke with fellow panelists about the social “cracks and rifts” that came to light over the past year and what is most important for the future. Aside from listening, a renewal of human interaction and the future of employment were high on the list.

In both cases, he views technology as a current and future challenge.

Tobin acknowledged that technology’s benefits are in enabling people to connect when they couldn’t otherwise (during a global pandemic, for example), but said that it is still not a substitute for face-to-face contact between people which he considers a “necessity”. ”

The cardinal also noted the fear that exists in his and other dioceses that “people will simply get used to being liturgical sofa potatoes and watching mass on video every Sunday”.

Regarding his concern for the future of employment, Tobin fears that technology, and artificial intelligence in particular, does more harm than good.

“Technology is taking jobs away and not creating them, except for a very elite cohort in society, and it will continue to do so,” Tobin said.

Kimberly Mazyck, Senior Manager of Engagement and Outreach at Catholic Charities USA, also referred to Fratelli Tutti to highlight the need for persistence in addressing issues that may fall behind before COVID-19, particularly racism and poverty.

“[Pope Francis in Fratelli Tutti] “Racism is like a virus that mutates quickly and instead of disappearing, it hides and waits,” recalls Mazyck.

“A lot of things like that, if we don’t address them, if we don’t listen to what we need to hear, sometimes things we don’t want to hear, then it seems like they no longer exist. but it’s just lurking, waiting for the opportunity to unfold, ”she continued. “We cannot ignore poverty and we cannot ignore racism.”

One thing Mazyck noticed through the pandemic in her role at Catholic Charities USA was the increase in the number of families who were food unsafe. However, ten days ago she noticed a drop in that number, which she attributes to the dedication of government agencies, organizations and nonprofits to help those in need.

One change she noticed was the expansion of online shopping under the government’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

“If we respond appropriately, if we find ways to help families order online, if they have SNAP so they can get the food their health and cultural needs require, people will be able to eat and work and perform and do well, ”said Mazyck.

Looking ahead, Mazyck hopes the country will not go back to normal as it was before the COVID-19 pandemic, but rather continue to adapt.

“I hope we’re really saying we saw some things that weren’t right. We knew they weren’t right before the pandemic. How do we adjust to really address these fully through our church and through our communities? ” She said.

At the beginning of the second day of the CCHD event, Cardinal Peter Turkson, Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, also spoke about the future but did not mention any specific issues. Instead, he gave a broader message about the need to respect all people.

“We are relational beings. It is an invitation to remember that every day, every moment of our lives, we are reminded that we, as relational beings, must respect the requirements of the relationship in which we live, and that compliance with these requirements means our righteousness before God and before us represents each other, ”said Turkson.

“We are invited to promote the dignity of each of us, and we are invited to live a life of justice. Because that is proof that we are from the one family of God, the Church. “

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