Young adults ask tough questions at Theology on Tap event
Bishop Andrew Cozzens is used to speaking about the Catholic faith. But when he met with young adults on May 27, it wasn’t in a familiar religious setting.
Bishop Cozzens was the guest speaker for West Metro Young Adults’ Theology on Tap. While sipping wine and eating pizza, some 60 young adults “grilled the bishop” on everything from ministry to homosexuality to choosing a vocation.
“It’s a popular topic on steroids,” said Jason Touw, a member of the group’s core team who attends Holy Name of Jesus in Wayzata.
Theology on Tap, started by a priest in the Archdiocese of Chicago, became a national program in 2003. Designed for young adults, it brings a Catholic speaker into a casual setting, such as a restaurant. West Metro Young Adults hosts two six-week sessions annually. “Grill the Priest,” a question-and-answer forum, is usually included in the rotation. But for this session, the group’s coordinator, Maddie McCarthy of Holy Family in St. Louis Park, decided to invite the archdiocese’s newest auxiliary bishop, who was ordained in December.
Let the grilling begin
To start, attendees submitted written questions that Bishop Cozzens divided into three categories: “personal,” “about me” and “theological and practical.” He first answered the several questions about how he became a bishop.
“It’s one of those weird things,” he said. “When the phone actually rings, you know you’re called to be a bishop.”
He recounted the story of the day last fall when he received a call from the Papal Nunciature. He was on his way to a meeting and thought the Washington, D.C., phone number was a friend, so he let the call go to voicemail. When he had a few minutes in between meetings, he listened to the message. It was from a friend in the capital who worked at the Papal Nunciature, and the message informed him that the apostolic nuncio wanted to speak with him as soon as possible.
“So, I hit call back,” he said, and was put through to Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
“Do you accept?” the archbishop concluded his straight forward announcement to then-Father Cozzens.
“I was hoping for a Scripture
passage, something to meditate on,” Bishop Cozzens recalled.
He paused and then accepted, but had to keep his appointment a secret for 10 days until it could be announced simultaneously in Rome and the archdiocese.
He next fielded a theological question about how to better minister to homosexuals. Bishop Cozzens said first it is important to practice compassion.
“All of us in some way struggle with various disorders, and God accepts us with our disorders,” Bishop Cozzens said.
He explained how Catholics struggling with a same-sex attraction need to hear a message of both compassion and discipleship from us.
“They need to hear that we are here to be disciples of Jesus,” the bishop said. “They need to hear the message of unconditional love, and then we can invite them to chastity.”
He encouraged the young adults to reach out to homosexuals in respect to the individual person.
He also addressed questions on the permanent diaconate, the Mass, how to advance the pro-life
cause and the single life as a vocation. One question asked what lay Catholics can do in the face of the scandal of clergy sex abuse.
Bishop Cozzens said the archdiocese is employing more lay experts to help with the issue and that lay Catholics should not believe everything they hear in the secular press.
“I can assure you that since I’ve been there, I’ve had no conscience qualms,” he said. “We can’t keep up with the media.”
For Catholics, it also means realizing that the Church is not perfect.
“Priests are sons of Adam,” the bishop said. “We will never have a perfect Church, but that doesn’t mean it’s an excuse for missing anything. We can receive our lashes for our bad behavior, and then we can be a witness that this is a problem.”
Bishop Cozzens also related his impressions from meeting with victims of clergy sexual abuse.
Another question was whether the single life is a vocation. Bishop Cozzens said the purpose of a vocation is to give oneself away completely, permanently and totally. Some people can experience a private call to the single life, but to be a vocation, the gift of self must be permanent and total. However, it doesn’t mean those who never marry nor experience a call to priesthood or consecrated life cannot live out their baptismal call to holiness. A person can respond to all circumstances “with total love.”
For Bishop Cozzens, the evening was an opportunity for him and young adults to get to know one another.
“I get to meet young people, and they get to see that bishops are really people and that faith can be brought into everyday life,” he said. “It’s encouraging to see that young people are serious enough about their faith that they want to come to something like this and want to live their faith in the world.”
West Metro Young Adults also hosts regular service and sports events. For more information, visit its Facebook page at facebook.com/westmetroya.
Category: Next Gen