Joseph William Tobin

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His Excellency, The Most Reverend
Joseph William Tobin
Archbishop of Indianapolis
Church Catholic Church
Archdiocese Indianapolis
Appointed October 18, 2012
Installed December 3, 2012
Predecessor Daniel M. Buechlein
Ordination June 1, 1978
Consecration October 9, 2010
by Tarcisio Bertone, Franc Rode, and Agostino Vallini
Personal details
Born (1952-05-03) May 3, 1952 (age 64)
Detroit, Michigan
Previous post Secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life
Superior General of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer
(Rejoice in the Lord)
Styles of
Joseph William Tobin
Coat of arms of Joseph William Tobin.svg
Reference style
Spoken style Your Excellency
Religious style Archbishop

Joseph William Tobin C.Ss.R (born May 3, 1952) is an American prelate of the Catholic Church. He has been the archbishop of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis since October 18, 2012. Tobin previously served as secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life from August 2, 2010.


Early life and education[edit]

Tobin was born in Wayne County, Detroit, Michigan, in 1952, the oldest of 13 children. At the end of the path of training for the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (Redemptorists), he made his temporary profession of vows on August 5, 1972 and the perpetual vows on August 21, 1976.

In 1975 he obtained a bachelor's degree in philosophy from the Holy Redeemer College, Waterford, Wisconsin in 1977 and, in 1979, a Master's in Religious Education and the Master of Divinity (Pastoral Theology) at the Mount St. Alphonsus Seminary in Esopus, New York.

Ordination and ministry[edit]

He was ordained a priest on June 1, 1978. From 1979 to 1984, Tobin was the parochial vicar of Holy Redeemer Parish in Detroit. He was then named pastor of Holy Redeemer, and served from 1984 to 1990. From 1990 to 1991, he served as pastor of Saint Alphonsus Parish in Chicago, Illinois. He served as an episcopal vicar for the Archdiocese of Detroit from 1980 to 1986; he also offered his collaboration to the local diocesan marriage tribunal.

He was elected General Consultor of the Redemptorist Fathers in 1991 and on September 9, 1997 was elected Superior General, confirmed for another term in this post September 26, 2003. That same year he became Vice-President of the Union of Superiors General.

He was also 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.

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

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

Roman Curia, Congregation Secretary[edit]

On August 2, 2010 Tobin was appointed to the Curia post of secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (CICLSA)[1] and titular Archbishop of Obba. Tobin is the second US cleric to hold the post.[a] 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. He received his episcopal consecration in Rome on October 9, 2010. Tobin was told of his appointment two weeks before it was announced. He recalled that "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".[2]

Tobin said that "[his] 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."[3]

When Tobin arrived at CICLSA, 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.[4] The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) was conducting a doctrinal assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, focused on theological orthodoxy.[5] 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.[6] 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.[7][8] In August he publicly criticized the way his predecessor had managed the CICLSAL Apostolic Visitation--a separate event from the CDF investigation of LCWR--from the start: "I believe a visitation has to have a dialogical aspect, but the way this was structured at the beginning didn't really favour that."[9]

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.[7] He was installed on December 3, 2012.[10] His reassignment had been rumored since Tobin had made known his unhappiness with Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith's highly critical report on the LCWR in the United States in April 2012.[7]

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."[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ In 1969, Holy Cross Father Edward Heston, an Ohio native, was named secretary by Pope Paul VI.


  1. ^ 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. 
  2. ^ Allen, Jr., John L. (August 6, 2010). "Q&A with Fr. Joseph Tobin". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved April 9, 2013. 
  3. ^ Arco, Anna (September 2, 2010). "'Life without tension would be boring'". Catholic Herald. Retrieved April 9, 2013. 
  4. ^ Goodstein, Laurie (July 1, 2009). "U.S. Nuns Facing Vatican Scrutiny". New York Times. Retrieved April 10, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Women religious leadership conference faces investigation for continued 'problems'". Catholic News Agency. April 18, 2009. Retrieved April 10, 2013. 
  6. ^ 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. 
  7. ^ a b c O'Connell, Gerard (October 16, 2012). "Pope appoints archbishop Joe Tobin as head of Indianapolis archdiocese". Vatican Insider. Retrieved October 16, 2012. 
  8. ^ McElwee, Joshua J. (6 April 2013). "Pope appoints Franciscan to religious congregation". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 7 April 2013. 
  9. ^ White, Hilary (August 22, 2011). "Animosity between 'progressive' U.S. nuns and Rome the Vatican's fault: top Vatican official". LifeSiteNews. Retrieved April 7, 2013. 
  10. ^ King, Robert (December 3, 2012). "Spread the good word, urges new Archbishop of Indianapolis Joseph W. Tobin". The Indianapolis Star. Retrieved December 4, 2012. 
  11. ^ McElwee, Joshua J. (June 2, 2014). "Archbishop warns of 'balkanization' in US church". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved November 17, 2015. 

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Gianfranco Gardin
Secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of
Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life

Succeeded by
José Rodríguez Carballo
Preceded by
Daniel M. Buechlein
Archbishop of Indianapolis