April 4, 2014

Archbishop Tobin named member of Vatican congregation that oversees men, women religious

By John Shaughnessy

Archbishop Joseph W. TobinPope Francis has appointed Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin as a new member of the Vatican department that oversees the more than 1 million men and women in the world’s religious orders.

The March 29 appointment “surprised” and “pleased” Archbishop Tobin.

“I was quite surprised,” the archbishop said. “Like most people, I knew that the Holy Father was reorganizing the Curia, but I did not expect to be named as a member of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

“Truthfully, I was not looking for more work, since I have plenty to do here in central and southern Indiana. But I am grateful for the confidence of the Holy Father and am pleased to honor his request.”

The only other American members on the congregation are Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago and Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston.

“I think the three of us will be able to bring a perspective from the United States that will enrich the work of the congregation,” the archbishop noted.

The archbishop’s appointment means a return to his previous connection with the congregation, the Vatican office where he served for two years before being installed as archbishop of Indianapolis in December of 2012. In 2010, Pope Benedict XVI appointed him as secretary of the congregation, the second highest-ranking position in that Vatican office.

“In practical terms, this appointment means that I will travel to Rome once a year or even less often, depending on the schedule of meetings,” Archbishop Tobin said. “From time to time, I may be asked to submit an opinion in writing to help the Holy See understand a particular problem involving religious.”

The archbishop said he doesn’t expect the appointment “will have any perceptible effect on my principal mission: that of shepherding the archdiocese.

“However, I would ask my brothers and sisters in central and southern Indiana to continue to pray for me, that I might be an archbishop after the heart of Jesus and serve well, both in Indiana and, when necessary, in Rome.”

The archbishop views his new role with the congregation as an advisory one.

“Together with the other cardinals and archbishops named to the congregation, I will try to advise the Holy Father and the cardinal prefect of the congregation on questions regarding religious life around the world,” Archbishop Tobin said.

The Vatican also announced on March 29 that the pope confirmed Brazilian Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz as prefect of the congregation, the Vatican office that oversees the world’s religious orders.

Besides Archbishop Tobin, other new members of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life include Australian Cardinal George Pell; Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet; Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera of Mexico City; Cardinal Luis Tagle of Manila; Bishop John Corriveau of Nelson, British Columbia; and Bishop Kieran O’Reilly of Killaloe, Ireland.

Pope Francis also reappointed 11 members to another five-year term, including: Cardinals Francis E. George of Chicago; Wilfrid F. Napier of Durban, South Africa; Sean P. O’Malley of Boston and Jesuit Father Adolfo Nicolas, superior general of the Jesuits worldwide. †

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