Pope taps new cardinal for Newark
VATICAN CITY >> Pressing his campaign to remake the U.S. Catholic church, Pope Francis on Monday tapped one of his new cardinals, Joseph Tobin, to replace the Newark, New Jersey, archbishop who has been criticized for allegedly mishandling sexabuse cases and spending lavishly on his retirement home.
The Vatican announced that Tobin would succeed Archbishop John Myers, who reached the mandatory retirement age of 75 in July. Tobin, currently the archbishop of Indianapolis, is one of three American prelates whom Francis will formally elevate as cardinals on Nov. 19 at the Vatican.
Tobin’s new assignment marks a transition in Newark away from an archbishop who was focused on drawing hard lines about Catholic orthodoxy and provides a fresh start for an archdiocese battered by controversies over Myers’ leadership.
Tobin had made a name for himself in the Vatican as the former No. 2 at the Holy See’s office for religious orders, where he worked to heal relationships with U.S. nuns amid an uproar over two Vatican investigations into their adherence to doctrine. The inquiries began under Pope Benedict XVI and ended under Francis, who praised the sisters for their work with the poor and disenfranchised.
Tobin more recently opposed the position of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, now the Republican vice presidential candidate, who wanted to prevent Syrian refugees from settling in the state.
At a news conference Monday at the Newark cathedral, Tobin pledged to bring transparency to the archdiocese and communicate directly with clergy and parishioners. He noted Francis’ oft-repeated plea that the church act as a “field hospital.” Tobin said his aim will be to “heal wounded hearts, to open doors, to free people, to say that God is good.”
“I hope to be able to reach out to people who have been hurt because I think that’s part of my mission,” Tobin said.
Speaking the day before the election, Tobin said Catholics, when voting, should examine whether candidates are “calling us together or are they separating us?”
He lamented political polarization in the U.S. and warned that those divisions can inadvertently permeate the church. “We don’t want to hear each other’s ideas,” Tobin said.