Pope taps new car­di­nal for Ne­wark

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - WEATHER -

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.

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