Vatican Honcho for Religious Life Seeks to 'Rebuild Trust'
Allen, John L., Jr., National Catholic Reporter
"Rebuilding trust" with religious orders is his highest priority, the Vatican's new top official for religious life has said, adding that he wants to find "another way" of dealing with American nuns--an approach, he said, that avoids 'preemptive judgment.'
"We've started to listen again," said Brazilian Archbishop Joao Braz de Aviz, with regard to the relationship between the Vatican and America's women religious, who are currently facing a Vatican-sponsored apostolic visitation.
Braz, 64, was appointed last January as the new prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. His comments came in an interview with the Italian Catholic monthly 30 Giorni, which is often used by Vatican officials to lay out their views.
Braz took over as the Vatican's point man for religious life from Slovenian Cardinal Franc Rode, whose six-year tenure often proved stormy.
Rode repeatedly decried a "crisis" in religious life following the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), and the congregation launched the contentious visitation of women's religious communities in the United States on his watch. That review is in its final phase, with a concluding report expected to be delivered to the congregation by Mother Mary Clare Millea, a member of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, who was tapped by Rode in December 2008 to head the process.
In the 30 Giorni interview, Braz, who was a diocesan priest in Brazil rather than a member of a religious order, appeared to signal a desire to avoid some of the controversies that erupted under Rode.
Asked how his Vatican assignment has begun, Braz replied: "There was a fair amount of distrust among the religious because of certain stances taken earlier. Now the focus of the work is precisely that of rebuilding trust."
Braz said that he is working closely with his secretary, or No. 2 official, American Archbishop Joseph Tobin, a former superior general of the Redemptorist order. Tobin's appointment a year ago was widely seen as signaling a desire for reconciliation.
Asked about the review of American nuns, Braz said the process has elicited "mistrust" and "opposition," but that new lines of communication have been opened. "We've talked to them [and] their representatives have also come here to Rome," Braz said. …