Pope transfers Vatican official who backed US nuns

Archbishop Joseph Tobin was sent to Indianapolis.
Archbishop Joseph Tobin was sent to Indianapolis.

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI transferred to the United States on Thursday a high-ranking Holy See official who had ruffled feathers at the Vatican by openly seeking to mend frayed ties with US nuns. Archbishop Joseph Tobin, a 60-year-old American Redemptorist priest, was named archbishop of Indianapolis, where he succeeds Archbishop Daniel Buechlein, who retired last year.

Benedict had tapped Tobin, a two-time superior general of the Redemptorist religious order, to be the No. 2 official in the Vatican’s office for religious orders in 2010. At the time, the Vatican had initiated two separate investigations of US nuns, looking into quality of life and doctrinal orthodoxy.

In Catholic media interviews after his appointment, Tobin acknowledged the hurt that nuns felt over the Vatican’s crackdown and called for a strategy of reconciliation.


‘‘We have to try to heal what can be healed,’’ he told National Catholic Reporter in December 2010, referring to the apostolic ‘‘visitation’’ his office launched in 2008 into US women’s religious orders.

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It is not the first time the Holy See has removed a high-ranking official who irked Vatican bureaucracy.

The No. 2 official in the Vatican was named to the arguably important position of US ambassador last year after irritating officials in exposing corruption and inefficiencies in day-to-day administration. Letters to the pope in which Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano begged not to be transferred were leaked this year to an Italian journalist.

Associated Press