Joseph W. Tobin

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Joseph W. Tobin

Archbishop of Newark
Cardinal Tobin (cropped).jpg
Tobin in 2017
ChurchCatholic Church
AppointedNovember 7, 2016
InstalledJanuary 6, 2017
PredecessorJohn J. Myers
Other post(s)Cardinal Priest of Santa Maria delle Grazie a Via Trionfale
Ecclesiastical Superior of Turks and Caicos
OrdinationJune 1, 1978
ConsecrationOctober 9, 2010
by Tarcisio Bertone
Created cardinalNovember 19, 2016
by Pope Francis
RankCardinal Priest
Personal details
Born (1952-05-03) May 3, 1952 (age 69)
Detroit, Michigan,
United States
ParentsJoseph W. Tobin & Marie Terese Kerwin
Previous post(s)Archbishop of Indianapolis (2012–2017)
Secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (CICLSAL) (2010–2012)
Titular Archbishop of Obba (2010–2012)
Superior General of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (1997–2009)
MottoGaudete in Domino
(Rejoice in the Lord)
Coat of armsJoseph W. Tobin's coat of arms
Styles of
Joseph W. Tobin
Coat of arms of Joseph William Tobin.svg
Reference style
Spoken styleYour Eminence
Informal styleCardinal
Ordination history of
Joseph W. Tobin
Diaconal ordination
Date30 April 1978
Priestly ordination
Date1 June 1978
Episcopal consecration
Principal consecratorTarcisio Bertone, SDB
Co-consecratorsFranc Rode, CM
Agostino Vallini
Date9 Oct 2010
Elevated byPope Francis
Date19 November 2016

Joseph William Tobin, CSsR, (born May 3, 1952) is an American prelate of the Catholic Church. A member of the Redemptorists, he has been the Archbishop of Newark, New Jersey, since his installation on January 6, 2017. He had served as the Archbishop of Indianapolis since 2012 and as secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (CICLSAL) from 2010 to 2012. He has been a cardinal since November 19, 2016.

Early life and education[edit]

Tobin was born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1952, the oldest of the 13 children of Joseph W. Tobin and Marie Terese Kerwin. He was baptized five days after his birth at the historic Church of the Most Holy Redeemer, founded and administered by the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (better known as the Redemptorist Fathers). He later attended the parochial school there.[1]

By the time he had graduated, Tobin felt called to serve as a Catholic priest and applied to the Redemptorists, by whom he was accepted as a candidate. He then attended St. Joseph's Preparatory College in Edgerton, Wisconsin, the Redemptorists' minor seminary. After graduating in 1970, he was received into the novitiate of the congregation to begin his formation as a member. He made his temporary profession of religious vows as a member of the congregation on August 5, 1972, and his perpetual vows on August 21, 1976.[1]

In 1975 Tobin gained a bachelor's degree in philosophy from Holy Redeemer College in Waterford, Wisconsin, after which he was sent to study at Mount St. Alphonsus Seminary in Esopus, New York, where he earned the degrees of Master in Religious Education (1977) and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Theology (1979).[1]

Ordination and ministry[edit]

Tobin in 2007

Tobin was ordained a priest on June 1, 1978. The following year he returned to his childhood home, when he was appointed the parochial vicar of Holy Redeemer Parish in Detroit. He was later named pastor there, serving from 1984 to 1990. From 1980 to 1986 he served as an episcopal vicar for the Archdiocese of Detroit, and also assisted at the local diocesan marriage tribunal. From 1990 to 1991 he served as pastor of St. Alphonsus Parish in Chicago, Illinois.[2]

Tobin was elected General Consultor of the Redemptorist Fathers in 1991 and on September 9, 1997, was elected Superior General,[2] being confirmed for another term in this post on September 26, 2003. That same year he became Vice-President of the Union of Superiors General. He was also a member of the Council for Relations between the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life and the International Union of Superiors General from 2001 to 2009.

In 2005, he participated in a Synod of Bishops in Rome, where he spent a week in a Spanish-language discussion group that included the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, who later became Pope Francis and would name Tobin a cardinal.[3]

Tobin spent 2010 taking a sabbatical attached to Blackfriars Hall, Oxford, residing with the De La Salle Brothers. He pursued his interest in the rise of secularisation and secular culture, attending seminars by sociologist of religion and anthropologist Peter B. Clarke, studying at the Las Casas Institute and taking classes at Blackfriars.

Tobin speaks English, Spanish, French, Italian, and Portuguese.

Roman Curia[edit]

In May 2009 Tobin was named to oversee the professed men's element of the Apostolic Visitation of the Church in Ireland, scheduled for September 2010. On August 2, 2010, Tobin was appointed secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (CICLSAL)[4][5] and titular Archbishop of Obba. Tobin was the second US cleric to hold the post.[a]

Tobin was told of his appointment two weeks before it was announced. He recalled:

I was painting my mom's house in Ontario when the phone rang. The voice on the other end said it was Cardinal Bertone, and my first thought was that it was a prank, … you know, I thought maybe it was one of the Redemptorists fooling around. Quickly, though, I realized that it really was Bertone, and he said that the Holy Father wants you to do this. My first reaction was to tell him that off the top of my head, I could give him the names of five people much more qualified to do this job than I am. I was completely serious about it. But Cardinal Bertone said no, this is what the Holy Father wants. He said I could take a week to ten days to think about it, so I talked to my superiors, my closest friends in religious life, and my spiritual director.[6]

Tobin received his episcopal consecration in Rome on October 9, 2010. He had said:

[My] hope is that the Vatican's relationship with the local churches can be a sort of creative tension. I think life without tension would be very boring and useless. We can't walk, we can't talk, we can't sing without tension. You need to have tension in your vocal chords and your back, let alone a guitar. However, tension can be destructive. The challenge is to recognise the diversity of gifts and the plurality of churches and the one spirit that unites us. And I think that is the adventure of a lifetime.[7]

When Tobin arrived at CICLSAL, it was already conducting a visitation—a critical inspection of ministries and organization—of the 341 institutes of apostolic women religious in the United States.[8] And the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) was conducting a doctrinal assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), focused on theological orthodoxy.[9] In December 2010 Tobin said that Rome needed to acknowledge the "depth of anger and hurt" provoked by a visitation, saying it illustrated the need for a "strategy of reconciliation" with women religious.[10] The CDF issued its report on the LCWR in April 2012, and Tobin was reportedly unhappy both with its content and with the failure of the CDF to consult with him before releasing it.[11][12]

Archbishop of Indianapolis[edit]

On October 18, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI reassigned Tobin from his Curia post to head the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis, a Catholic community of 246,000.[11] He was installed on December 3, 2012.[13] His reassignment had been rumored since Tobin had made known his unhappiness with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith's highly critical report on the LCWR in the United States in April 2012.[11]

In June 2014, Tobin warned that ideological polarization of American political life "helps to contribute to the balkanization of American Catholics into so-called right wing and left wing, or progressive and traditionalist, factions, who point fingers at each other". Speaking at a meeting of the College Theology Society he said that: "In my opinion, finger pointing does a great harm to religious life because it makes us defensive ... [and] we feel constantly compelled to defend ourselves against other parties in the church."[14]

In May 2016, Tobin was named to oversee the Sodalitium Christianae Vitae, a religious community that a Vatican review had found in need of thorough-going reform.[15]


On October 9, 2016, Pope Francis announced that Tobin would be made a cardinal in a papal consistory to be held on November 19, 2016.[16] On that day he was made a Cardinal-Priest of Santa Maria delle Grazie a Via Trionfale.[17]

Pope Francis named him a member of the Pontifical Council for Culture on 11 November 2019.[18]

Pope Francis named him a member of the Congregation for Bishops on 4 March 2021.[19]

Pope Francis named him a member of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura on 21 June 2021.[20]

Archbishop of Newark[edit]

Appointment and tenure[edit]

On November 7, 2016, Pope Francis named Tobin the Archbishop of Newark, a city which has, like Indianapolis, never before been headed by a cardinal.[21][22][23] He was installed there on January 6, 2017.[24]

Tobin is a strong advocate of increased acceptance of migrants into the United States and of a lenient position towards those who are in the country illegally. In March 2017, he accompanied 59-year old Catalino Guerrero to his deportation hearing. The following May, Tobin called on Catholic leaders to resist the immigration positions of Donald Trump, saying, "you really have to believe in inflicting cruelty on innocent people to choose to support the policies we've seen in recent months."[25]

Tobin has been a proponent of increasing the role of women in the Catholic Church. In an interview with The New York Times published on December 22, 2017, Tobin said that he "understand[s] the consternation" among women who find themselves frustrated that they are not permitted to become priests. When asked about the possibility of a female cardinal, he responded, "Maybe my theology isn't sophisticated enough, but I don't believe that there's a compelling theological reason why the pope couldn't name a woman cardinal."[26]

LGBT issues[edit]

Tobin welcomed a "pilgrimage" of gay and lesbian Catholics and their families to the archdiocese's cathedral in 2017. In an interview before the Mass, Tobin said, "The word I use is 'welcome'. These are people that have not felt welcome in other places. My prayer for them is that they do. Today in the Catholic Church, we read a passage that says you have to be able to give a reason for your hope. And I'm praying that this pilgrimage for them, and really for the whole Church, is a reason for hope."[27]

In an interview with NBC's Anne Thompson on April 17, 2019, Tobin said: "The Church, I think, is having its own conversation about what our faith has us do and say with people in relationships that are same-sex. What should be without debate is that we are called to welcome them." Tobin was then asked about language in the Catechism of the Catholic Church that refers to homosexuality as "intrinsically disordered." Tobin answered, "Well I don't call them 'intrinsically disordered' ... It's very unfortunate language. Let's hope that eventually that language is a little less hurtful."[28]

Tobin supported the 2017 book called Building a Bridge, by Fr. James Martin, SJ, which called for the Church to modify its relationship with LGBT people. Tobin commented that "in too many parts of our church LGBT people have been made to feel unwelcome, excluded, and even shamed. Father Martin's brave, prophetic, and inspiring new book marks an essential step in inviting church leaders to minister with more compassion, and in reminding LGBT Catholics that they are as much a part of our church as any other Catholic."[29]

Clergy sex abuse[edit]

On August 17, 2018 the Catholic News Agency reported that six Newark priests alleged experience of sexual misconduct by two priests in seminary and ministry in the archdiocese. Tobin responded with a letter to the priests of Newark on the same day, saying that he had been unaware of the issue. He concluded the letter by encouraging priests to refer media inquiries to the archdiocesan director of communications.[30][31][32]

On August 25, 2018 Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, former apostolic nuncio to the United States, released a letter describing a series of warnings to the Vatican regarding alleged sexual misconduct by then-cardinal Theodore McCarrick, a predecessor of Tobin in Newark. Viganò claimed that McCarrick "orchestrated" the appointment of Tobin as Archbishop of Newark.[33][34] Tobin denounced Viganò's statement for "factual errors, innuendo and fearful ideology." He said that the letter "cannot be understood as contributing to the healing of survivors of sexual abuse" and called for "guaranteeing a safe and respectful environment where all are welcome and breaking down the structures and cultures that enable abuse."[35]

One journalist claims that in a conversation with Tobin that he said that around the time he came to Newark in 2016 he heard "rumors" about McCarrick having slept with seminarians, but chose not to believe them, stating that at the time they seemed too "incredulous" to be true.[36]


  1. ^ In 1969, Rev. Edward Heston, C.S.C., an Ohio native, was named secretary of the same Congregation by Pope Paul VI.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b c "About Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin, C.Ss.R." Archdiocese of Indianapolis.
  2. ^ a b "Biography of His Eminence, Joseph William Cardinal Tobin, C.Ss.R.", Archdiocese of Newark
  3. ^ Gibson, David (November 18, 2016). "Pope Francis, the ultimate headhunter". National Catholic Reporter. Religion News Service. Retrieved November 18, 2016.
  4. ^ Delaney, Robert (August 16, 2010). "Archbishop-designate Joseph Tobin, tapped for a high Vatican post, says 'I carry southwest Detroit in my Heart'". Michigan Catholic. Retrieved April 7, 2013.
  5. ^ Kohn, Joe (December 2, 2010). "Abp. Tobin visits Redeemer". Michigan Catholic. Retrieved November 7, 2016.
  6. ^ Allen, Jr., John L. (August 6, 2010). "Q&A with Fr. Joseph Tobin". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved April 9, 2013.
  7. ^ Arco, Anna (September 2, 2010). "'Life without tension would be boring'". Catholic Herald. Retrieved April 9, 2013.
  8. ^ Goodstein, Laurie (July 1, 2009). "U.S. Nuns Facing Vatican Scrutiny". New York Times. Retrieved April 10, 2013.
  9. ^ "Women religious leadership conference faces investigation for continued 'problems'". Catholic News Agency. April 18, 2009. Retrieved April 10, 2013.
  10. ^ Allen, Jr., John L. (December 7, 2010). "Vatican must hear 'anger and hurt' of American nuns, official says". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved April 7, 2013.
  11. ^ a b c O'Connell, Gerard (October 16, 2012). "Pope appoints archbishop Joe Tobin as head of Indianapolis archdiocese". Vatican Insider. Archived from the original on March 6, 2013. Retrieved October 16, 2012.
  12. ^ McElwee, Joshua J. (April 6, 2013). "Pope appoints Franciscan to religious congregation". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved April 7, 2013.
  13. ^ King, Robert (December 3, 2012). "Spread the good word, urges new Archbishop of Indianapolis Joseph W. Tobin". The Indianapolis Star. Retrieved December 4, 2012.
  14. ^ McElwee, Joshua J. (June 2, 2014). "Archbishop warns of 'balkanization' in US church". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved November 17, 2015.
  15. ^ "Vatican appoints Archbishop Tobin as delegate for Sodalitium reforms". Catholic News Agency. May 13, 2016. Retrieved February 13, 2017.
  16. ^ O'Kane, Lydia (October 9, 2016). "Pope announces 17 new Cardinals in consistory". Vatican Radio. Retrieved October 9, 2016.
  17. ^ "Titular churches and diaconates of the new cardinals, 19.11.2016" (Press release). Holy See Press Office. November 19, 2016. Retrieved November 19, 2016.
  18. ^ "Resignations and Appointments, 11.11.2019" (Press release). Holy See Press Office. November 11, 2019. Retrieved November 11, 2019.
  19. ^ "Resignations and Appointments, 04.03.2019" (Press release). Holy See Press Office. March 4, 2021. Retrieved March 7, 2021.
  20. ^ CNA. "Cardinal Tobin appointed member of Vatican's highest court". Catholic News Agency. Retrieved June 22, 2021.
  21. ^ Goodstein, Laurie (November 7, 2016). "Pope Francis Names Joseph Tobin to Lead Archdiocese of Newark". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved November 7, 2016.
  22. ^ McElwee, Joshua J. (November 7, 2016). "Francis appoints Indianapolis' Tobin as archbishop of Newark, first cardinal in archdiocese's history". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved November 7, 2016.
  23. ^ Mueller, Mark (November 7, 2016). "Who is Newark's new cardinal? An introduction to Joe Tobin". Retrieved November 7, 2016.
  24. ^ Barron, James (January 6, 2017). "Cardinal Tobin, New Newark Archbishop, Cites 'Chasm Between Life and Faith'". The New York Times. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
  25. ^ Levitt, Shannon (May 17, 2017). "Tobin calls Trump immigration policies 'cruelty on innocent people'". Crux Now. Retrieved September 4, 2018.
  26. ^ Kristof, Nicholas (December 22, 2017). "Cardinal Tobin, Am I a Christian?". The New York Times. Retrieved September 1, 2018.
  27. ^ "As Church Shifts, a Cardinal Welcomes Gays; They Embrace a 'Miracle'". New York Times. April 17, 2019. Retrieved July 9, 2019.
  28. ^ "How Cardinal Joseph Tobin found his calling in the Catholic Church". Today Show. April 17, 2019. Retrieved July 9, 2019.
  29. ^ "Cardinal Tobin: Catechism language 'very unfortunate' on homosexuality". April 18, 2019. Retrieved June 7, 2019.
  30. ^ "Cardinal Tobin denies knowledge of 'gay subculture' in Newark". Catholic News Agency. August 20, 2018. Retrieved August 25, 2018.
  31. ^ Emma Brockes (August 25, 2018). "Why the Catholic church keeps hitting the wrong note". The Guardian. Retrieved August 25, 2018.
  32. ^ "Cardinal Tobin tells priests not to speak to press after 'gay sub-culture' claims". Catholic Herald. Catholic News Agency. August 21, 2018. Archived from the original on August 22, 2018. Retrieved September 1, 2018.
  33. ^ Pentin, Edward (August 25, 2018). "Ex-nuncio accuses Pope Francis of failing to act on McCarrick's abuse reports". Catholic News Agency. Retrieved September 1, 2018.
  34. ^ Horowitz, Jason (August 26, 2018). "Pope Francis Long Knew of Cardinal's Abuse and Must Resign, Archbishop Says". The New York Times. Retrieved August 27, 2018.
  35. ^ "Statement in Response to "Testimony" of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, Former Apostolic Nuncio to the United States". Archdiocese of Newark website. August 27, 2018. Retrieved September 1, 2018.
  36. ^ Kelly, Mike (August 31, 2018). "Kelly: The secret life of Catholic Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and reports of sex abuse". USA Today. Retrieved September 1, 2018.

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Juan Manuel Lasso de la Vega y Miranda
Superior General of the Redemptorists
9 September 1997 – 4 November 2009
Succeeded by
Michael Brehl
Preceded by
Gustavo Rodriguez Vega
Titular Archbishop of Obba
2 August 2010 – 18 October 2012
Succeeded by
Rafał Markowski
Preceded by Secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life
2 August 2010 – 18 October 2012
Succeeded by
Preceded by Archbishop of Indianapolis
18 October 2012 – 7 November 2016
Succeeded by
Preceded by Archbishop of Newark
7 November 2016 –
Ecclesiastical Superior of the Turks and Caicos Islands
7 November 2016 –
Preceded by Cardinal-Priest of Santa Maria delle Grazie a Via Trionfale
19 November 2016 –