Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Who is Bishop Tobin? Possible Next Archbishop?

A highly respected Vatican news site, "The Vatican Insider", today ran a story talking about shake-ups in some key posts in the Vatican.  One of the changes mentioned the current head of the Congregation for the Religious, Bishop Joseph Tobin.  The story reads:

"The current secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, Joseph William Tobin, should - as always, when speaking about decisions of this kind it is essential to use the conditional because neither Benedict XVI nor the Secretary of State appear Napoleonic in this field – return to the U.S. He will probably be sent to an important diocese; possibly Indianapolis.

Is this a promotion? Possibly, but it seems he was recalled by the U.S. Catholic Church who did not appreciate Tobin’s role in clearing up misunderstandings with the LCWR’S “rebel” nuns. American bishops did not find his conciliatory statements very helpful as they were hard at work trying to resolve a difficult problem. Indeed, they saw his attitude as a break with the position taken by the previous Prefect, Franc Rodé, who was concerned about the “new age” drift of many U.S. nuns."  Click here to read the whole story.

I am about as low on the totem pole as a priest can be in a diocese (which is fine by me!) but even I have heard Bishop Tobin mentioned as a serious candidate to be our next Archbishop.  I thought it would be helpful to include some facts since it seems his chances of being our next Archbishop are becoming much higher.  If he ends up not receiving the official nod, then we'll all know a lot more about one of the Bishops in the U.S.  

Bishop Tobin is 60 years old.  He is the oldest of 13 children!  He was ordained a priest in 1978 for the Redemptorist order.  The Redemptorists have as their charism the preaching of the Gospel, especially to the poor.  Having an Archbishop who can preach well and articulate the Gospel to all people is a very important and necessary skill in my opinion, and so Bishop Tobin's background as a Redemptorist would be put to good use if he were to be assigned to Indy.  

Following his ordination, Bishop Tobin was a parish priest in Detroit, leading Holy Redeemer until 1990.  In 1991, Bishop Tobin was elected to serve in a leadership role for his order, and that led to him working with the Vatican's Congregation for Religious.  Bishop Tobin was ordained a bishop in 2010 and was then appointed to oversee the Congregation for Religious.

There are articles on Bishop Tobin by the Catholic Herald (click here to read) and two with the National Catholic Reporter (click here and here to read) 

More as word breaks.


  1. This kind of worries me... The "Vatican Insider" reported, "The U.S. Catholic Church... did not appreciate Tobin’s role in clearing up misunderstandings with the LCWR’S “rebel” nuns." What exactly does this mean? Hopefully he wasn't trying to defend them? Surely not?

  2. It's possible +Tobin will go to Indianapolis, however, it is extremely likely that other, higher profile sees will be opening in the next year or so. The shake up that will be caused by Cardinal George's pending retirement will have quite the impact on the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in the US. I would not be surprised at all if Abp Wilton Gregory gets named the next shepherd of Chi-town...after all, he was born there, and from what we've seen with Benedict, there seems to be a pattern of naming native sons to their home dioceses. That would mean Atlanta becomes vacant along with several others. So, if +Tobin's appointment comes later, rather than sooner, he could go anywhere! But, if it comes sooner, which is more likely in my opinion, he could either go to Indy -OR- El Paso. Don't forget, +Tobin has quite a bit of experience in Hispanic ministry.

  3. On second thought, +Tobin won't go to El Paso...I forgot he is already an archbishop.