John Thavis writes from Rome for Catholic News Service that the new head of the Congregation for Religious is sounding as if his mission is to be a bridge over troubled waters.
Archbishop Joao Braz de Aviz has spoken in favor of "a more positive view of religious" and a mending of rifts between the Vatican and orders resulting from a number of tensions including those produced by the sweeping investigation of U.S. orders.
His presciption for success tries to balance the old ideal of nuns as "models of fidelity" with a nod to the Vatican II appeal to "pay attention to today's culture."
To do this, the archibishop has vowed to listen.
That approach, according to Thavis and others, has given some religious leaders hope that things will get better. Listening, said Sister Mary Lou Wertz, president of the International Union of Superiors General, entails "open sharing" and by inference an openness to change.