Appointment of Tobin

This week presented so much good news that it’s hard to take after a summer of oily pelicans, grinding unemployment, Senate gridlock and Islamophobia crazies. But now, BP has virtually killed its oil-spewing well in the Gulf. The Senate broke its gridlock to pass badly needed aid to the states to save jobs. A judge in California overturned the same sex marriage ban as a violation of equal protection under the law. Mayor Bloomberg of New York spoke strongly in favor of the mosque near Ground Zero as upholding the cherished value of religious freedom, even as a panel cleared the way for demolition of an old building so construction can begin.
But then – the truly unexpected: the appointment of Fr. Joseph Tobin as Secretary of the Vatican's "Congregation for Religious." OK, like many NCR readers, I think a woman should be appointed to this and several other Vatican positions, but we all know that the men at the Vatican are (to put it charitably) “slow learners.” We have to note progress when it presents itself.

But here’s what really blew me away in the NCR story. Tobin actually admitted that the Vatican may be ill-informed about American religious women. According to NCR, he speculated that perhaps the choice of an American for the secretary's role in the Congregation for Religious could "suggest some awareness of just how badly this thing (the visitation) has gone down." Then he added, "Maybe I can offer a different picture of American women religious than the one that sometimes has been presented in Rome. My own impression is extremely positive."

But one other good omen that a friend of mine noted: his last name is “Tobin.” I doubt that he is a relative of our highly esteemed Sr. Mary Luke Tobin, SL, one of the great leaders of religious women in the 20th century who died a couple years ago. But maybe he can pray to his namesake for guidance.

She might help him decide what to do with the final report on the investigation next year. Maybe “Tobin” can do with it what Mary Luke did when she received ridiculous messages from Rome: bury it in “file 13.”

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