February 13, 2012

VATICAN CITY – Wealthier religious orders should share their resources with struggling religious communities, said the prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

Cardinal-designate Joao Braz de Aviz said that while religious men and women live a life of poverty and possess nothing, their religious "institution doesn't always give the same witness."

"It's not that we are against holding assets or are saying the Church cannot have all the things it needs," he said in an interview with the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, Feb. 2.

The question is rather, he said, why aren't resources being shared among different religious institutes?

One example, the Brazilian prelate said, would be a religious order that has significant financial assets earmarked for caring for and supporting its members in their old age.

He asked whether this was the true aim of such funds and whether the money could be given to help another institute that was struggling or in need.

"Why don't we know how to say 'We will put our assets at the disposal of many others'?" he asked.

De Aviz said he thinks people do not believe enough in God's providence - that the Lord will provide.

"We've taken on a consumerist point of view a bit," he said.

He said the Vatican congregation he heads was looking into a phenomenon common in the United States, Canada and Australia where many religious "are organizing themselves in 'corporations'" in order to have "more security, efficiency and cost-savings," he said.

"We are tracking this phenomenon, but we still don't know well how it will evolve because it is something new."