Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Carmen Elena Villa

11/17/2010 (3 years ago)

Zenit News Agency (www.zenit.org)

What do religious congregations contribute to the Church as Mystical Body of Christ?

I believe it's very good that the Church stresses the vocation of baptism. But we must remember that both the Second Vatican Council, and later John Paul II in his apostolic exhortation "Vita Consecrata" said to us that consecrated life is essential within the life of the Church. "By the profession of the evangelical counsels the characteristic features of Jesus -- the chaste, poor and obedient one -- are made constantly 'visible' in the midst of the world," said the Pope.

Secretary of the Vatican's congregation for consecrated life, Archbishop Joseph William Tobin

Secretary of the Vatican's congregation for consecrated life, Archbishop Joseph William Tobin

Highlights

By Carmen Elena Villa

Zenit News Agency (www.zenit.org)

11/17/2010 (3 years ago)

Published in Europe

Keywords: Bishop Tobin, Religious, Monks, Nuns, sisters, brothers, holiness


ROME, Italy  (Zenit.org) - After three months as secretary of the Vatican's congregation for consecrated life, Archbishop Joseph William Tobin admits that he has a certain longing to be in the missions, though he says his new post is a type of missionary work too.
 
"It's not simply paper work or documents," he said. "It is about trying to see that congregations of consecrated men and women of the world respond increasingly with fidelity to their vocation."

The Redemptorist went from being superior-general of his congregation (a post he received in 1997) to being named in August the secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

A Detroit-native, Joseph William Tobin was ordained a priest in 1978 and a bishop last month. "I thank God for my vocation," he told ZENIT's Spanish edition. "I consider it a great unmerited gift."
 
ZENIT: What was your response to this appointment?
 
Archbishop Tobin: It is a vote of confidence on the part of the Holy Father, which makes me feel unworthy but at the same time impels me to carry out this task because I know that the Pope loves the Church and he also has a particular love for consecrated life. In giving me this [office], he shares with me a pastoral responsibility that is very close to his heart. Above all, I respect and thank the Lord and accept with much humility this gesture of confidence.
 
I confess that it also represents a sacrifice because I am a missionary and I thought that after serving 18 years in government, first as consultor and then as superior-general of my congregation, the Lord would grant me another form of mission, but I think that what we do here is not bureaucratic work. I think that to serve the religious congregations of the world is in itself a mission work.
 
ZENIT: Added to your new mission is the experience of your recent episcopal ordination and living in fullness the priestly order.
 
Archbishop Tobin: There was a very intense moment in the liturgy of my episcopal ordination during the Litany of the Saints. I very much like this part of the rite, especially when they evoke two great saints: my baptismal patron who is St. Joseph and also St. Alphonsus Maria Liguori, founder of my community. When I was lying on the floor, I was conscious that the whole Church was praying, asking the Heavenly Father for the gift of the Spirit and with much confidence I thought that God could not deny this prayer. Also very beautiful for me was the imposition of hands, which is the nucleus, along with the consecrating prayer.
 
ZENIT: You have just been superior of the Redemptorists. What lessons did this give you for your new post?
 
Archbishop Tobin: I had the good fortune of accompanying an international community. In our congregation, there are some 5,000 consecrated worldwide who work in 78 countries. This offered me a sort of daily school to learn the multi-cultural nature of consecrated life, always seeking the pivot and strength that unites us, which is the religious spirit. I believe that to serve a multi-cultural community with its lights and shadows has served my preparation for this new mission -- also working in a team that is international. In the curia we were 11 brothers from 10 countries. This enables one to adjust to other ways of thinking and not to run the risk of idealizing one's own culture.
 
ZENIT: What are the challenges you must address as secretary of this congregation?
 
Archbishop Tobin: There are some that are very urgent. For example, the very difficult state of many religious congregations in Africa, which were founded and sometimes abandoned at the diocesan and local level. We must ask ourselves how we can help them and keep the necessary elements, at times as basic as food and lodging, also resources for initial and continual formation.
 
ZENIT: And what do you think the universal Church can do for these congregations?
 
Archbishop Tobin: I believe that solidarity is a very important value. We are a family. There are consecrated men and women in local Churches that have many resources and we must see if they can live in a simpler way. The result would be greater support to brothers and sisters facing very difficult conditions. The most important thing is that they not feel isolated or abandoned. No matter how small the congregations are, they belong to the universal Church, especially when they enjoy approval at the diocesan or pontifical level, they must feel part of the Church, supported and strengthened.
 
ZENIT: Another challenge is the subject of the apostolic visit to religious congregation in the United States.
 
Archbishop Tobin: A key for us -- and this was noted in the document of this dicastery on fraternal life in community -- is that we, religious, must be men and women teachers of dialogue because we are teachers of fraternal life. I believe dialogue is a very important point and that both brothers and sisters must approach the mutual search for truth. When I visited my brothers during my years as superior-general I said to them: "I don't come as a policeman, nor do I come as a tourist. I come as someone committed to the most precious thing he has: my life in a project which is the congregation's mission." When we speak as consecrated men and women we must realize that we are speaking about our life's wager, which must have meaning and if we must correct something, we must ask for the grace of conversion, which is always a challenge of consecrated life. In my way of seeing this it is a dialogue, a wager, which at the same time is an answer.
 
ZENIT: How can one work so that the old communities will remain faithful to their original charism?
 
Archbishop Tobin: I always invite Redemptorists to reflect on the inspiration of St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori. It's true that secularization is a challenge but there are others. I remember that once, visiting a province that lived under a military dictatorship, at one point the brothers said to me, "Although we have denounced the regime and some of us went to prison, the military's way of thinking has penetrated us and sometimes we treat one another as the military." As Paul VI said in his apostolic exhortation "Evangelii Nuntiandi": The Church "has a constant need of being evangelized, if she wishes to retain freshness, vigor and strength in order to proclaim the Gospel." For us it is a question of going to the interior of a culture without losing our soul. This is the challenge and I think that many congregations of the Church will reveal themselves on these questions.
 
ZENIT: Many other new congregations are also being born.
 
Archbishop Tobin: The image I have of consecrated life is like a flowering eco-system in which new forms must appear; this is a sign of the health of the eco-system. We must make an effort to preserve the good of the past and accept the new that the Spirit inspires.
 
ZENIT: But on the other hand, there is a crisis of response to the call to the vocation of consecrated life.
 
Archbishop Tobin: Especially in the West. In Nigeria, for example, there is no crisis of response to the call. Every year, from that country, the Redemptorists receive 500 requests to enter and we choose 14. In other countries of Africa the situation is more or less the same. It's true that in Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia there are many vocations. It's true that in some countries, especially in Western Europe, Canada and the United States, there is a crisis but in other parts of the world the crisis consists in a good number of formators with meager resources. The crisis is not always numerical.
 
ZENIT: What do religious congregations contribute to the Church as Mystical Body of Christ?
 
Archbishop Tobin: We, consecrated, must show and evidence in our life a certain liberty, which is different from the layman's liberty. It's true that laymen are free to go where we, religious, cannot go, but we are even more free to live a missionary life by not having so many family responsibilities. If we don't use this liberty well we must question ourselves because consecrated life is not about irresponsibility but about radical liberty.

I believe it's very good that the Church stresses the vocation of baptism. But we must remember that both the Second Vatican Council, and later John Paul II in his apostolic exhortation "Vita Consecrata" said to us that consecrated life is essential within the life of the Church. "By the profession of the evangelical counsels the characteristic features of Jesus -- the chaste, poor and obedient one -- are made constantly 'visible' in the midst of the world," said the Pope.

[Translation from original Spanish by ZENIT]



Comments


More Europe

Pontifical Council Statement on the Violence in Iraq Watch

Image of Let us therefore unite our voices with that of Pope Francis:

By Vatican Radio

No cause, and certainly no religion, can justify such barbarity. This constitutes an extremely serious offense to humanity and to God who is the Creator, as Pope Francis has often reminded us. VATICAN CITY (Vatican Radio) - The Pontifical Council for Interreligious ... continue reading


British rapper makes 14-year-old girl post sex video online Watch

Image of The girl, who can't be named for legal reasons, accepted a friend request from rapper Logik, whose real name is Kyle Burns.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It was a sick incident that highlights what's going on around the eyes and ears of semi-attentive parents. A British rapper who goes under the stage name of "Logik" asked a 14-year-old girl to pose an indecent 60-second video of herself to which he promised ... continue reading


A new tomb may be the burial place of Alexander the Great Watch

Image of This road leads up to a newly discovered tomb which could hold the remains of one of Alexander the Great's generals.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Archaeologists in Greece have discovered an immense tomb that they believe may be connected with Alexander the Great, whose conquests stretched from Greece to India. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - This tomb, which dates to around 300 BC, may have held the body ... continue reading


WRITTEN OFF: Debt used by Vatican to finance religious films wiped clean Watch

Image of The Vatican's at-the-time Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone ordered the investment in Lux Vide SpA. He said the company shared the Holy See's

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis has tried to loosen ties between the Catholic Church and Italy's business and political world. The pontiff considers this longstanding network of relations improper and antithetical to the Church's religious mission. To this end, the Vatican has ... continue reading


Spanish priest stricken with Ebola returned to Europe for treatment; Victims left rotting in streets Watch

Image of Seventy-five-year-old Missionary Miguel Pajares, a Spanish priest has become the first person carrying the deadly Ebola virus to be brought back to Europe for treatment.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Seventy-five-year-old Missionary Miguel Pajares, a Spanish priest has become the first person carrying the deadly Ebola virus to be brought back to Europe for treatment. In the meantime, shocking new photographs have emerged showing more victims being dumped in ... continue reading


Pope Francis Teaches on the Beatitudes: Portrait of Jesus and the Path to Happiness Watch

Image of Let us try to recall them and to imprint them, in our hearts. Let's do this: I will say them one after the other and you will repeat them. Agreed? - Pope Francis

By Catholic Online

As Moses stipulated regarding the Covenant with God in accordance with the law received on Sinai, so Jesus, from a hill on the shore of Lake Galilee, gives to his disciples and to the crowd a new teaching that begins with the Beatitudes. Moses gave the Law on ... continue reading


WHAT HAVE WE BECOME: British mom jailed for having sex with 12-year-old son following instructions from boyfriend Watch

Image of The son in question, along with his brother, have been placed in foster care.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In an especially revolting example of bad parenting, a 39-year-old British mom has been jailed for having sex with her 12-year-old son . while her partner watched on webcam, telling the mother what to do over headphones. The mother described the act as a "sex ... continue reading


GRUESOME WEAPON: Made from four human pelvises, tool was used to desecrate corpses Watch

Image of Four pelvic bones on a stick were found at the Dutch site, along with bundles of bones, bones bearing marks of cutting and scraping, and crushed skulls.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Archaeologists have made a gruesome discovery. The bones of ancient Iron Age warriors around the time of Christ were impaled on wooden stakes in a gruesome religious ritual. Four pelvic bones on a stick were discovered in an archaeological dig in Denmark. ... continue reading


Spiritual Ecumenism: Pope Francis Visits Evangelical/Pentecostal Church in Caserta Italy Watch

Image of Pope Francis took a trip to Caserta, Italy on Monday, June 28, 2014. He visited with a friend named Giovanni Traettino who pastors an evangelical, charismatic/Pentecostal protestant Church.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

Pope Francis took a trip to Caserta, Italy on Monday, June 28, 2014. He visited with a friend named Giovanni Traettino who pastors an evangelical, charismatic/Pentecostal protestant Church. This friend of Francis oversees the growing evangelical Church of the ... continue reading


France grants asylum to Iraqi Christians as U.S. rebuked for 'silence' Watch

Image of Representative Frank Wolf (R-Va.) said on the House floor,

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

As the genocide of Iraqi Christians continues, the French government now says it is willing to grant asylum to Iraqi Christians. "We are assisting displaced persons who are fleeing the Islamic State's threats and seeking refuge in Kurdistan," Foreign Minister ... continue reading


All Europe News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ezekiel 28:1-10
1 The word of Yahweh was addressed to me as ... Read More

Psalm, Deuteronomy 32:26-27, 27-28, 30, 35-36
26 I should crush them to dust, I said, I should wipe ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 19:23-30
23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'In truth I tell ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for August 19th, 2014 Image

St. John Eudes
August 19: John Eudes was born at Ri, Normandy, France, on November 14, ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter