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ORLANDO, Fla. (CNS) -- The U.S. Catholic Church's increasing diversity presents Catholics with the opportunity to accompany each other on the journey of faith Pope Francis envisions, a Boston College professor told delegates to the "Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of the Gospel in America" in Orlando.
Hosffman Ospino, associate professor of theology and religious education at Boston College, said the changes in the landscape are a sign of strength and present new opportunities to welcome newcomers into the church family.
"It's OK if we wrestle with diversity and pluralism," he told the 3,500 delegates assembled for the convocation's first plenary session July 2. "This where we need to exercise the pastoral practice of mutual accompaniment."
Ospino suggested that Catholics of the first decades of the 21st century might begin to understand that they can set the course of a "new Catholic moment in the U.S." by embracing diversity.
Citing the explosive growth of Catholic communities in the American South and West, Ospino said the church is being called to respond to the needs of new immigrants so that they are welcomed and not made to feel forgotten.