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Redemptorist Joseph W. Tobin, Committed to the Poor and Marginalized, Created Cardinal Today

Liguori Publication

Today His Holiness Pope Francis created 17 cardinals including Joseph W. Tobin of the Redemptorist order. (Photos courtesy of Paul Haring, Catholic News Service.)

Cardinal Tobin was appointed Archbishop of Newark. His fluent Spanish will help him lead the city’s 1.2 million Catholics, half of whom are Hispanic. He was also appointed chair of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations.

In 2012 Pope Benedict XVI appointed him Archbishop of Indianapolis. Previously, Cardinal Tobin served in Rome from 1997-2009 as head of the order of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (Redemptorists), and from 2010-12 as Curia secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, the Vatican group responsible for consecrated life. Prior to that Tobin served as a parish priest at Holy Redeemer parish in Detroit, St. Alphonsus parish in Chicago, and as an episcopal vicar for the Archdiocese of Detroit.

Cardinal Tobin is one of the few American cardinals to personally know the pope. Cardinal Tobin met and worked with then Cardinal-Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio of Buenos Aires in Rome in 2005. Because of his fluency in Spanish, Tobin ended up at the table of the Spanish small-discussion group.

Two other Americans were created Cardinals today: CSsR; Blase Cupich of Chicago; and Kevin Farrell, head of the Vatican’s new Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life.

Redemptorist Cardinal Joseph Tobin Receives Papal Scroll“Francis is famously a pope of the peripheries,” wrote John L. Allen, Jr., author of Liguori's 10 Things Pope Francis Wants You to Know author and head of CruxNow, “and nowhere is that drive to lift up previously ignored or marginalized places more clear than in how this pontiff awards red hats. … [With the new appointments,] the College of Cardinals is better reflective of the entire 1.2-billion strong Catholic Church around the world, especially paces long accustomed to not really having a voice. … All three would be seen as center-left figures in some ways reflecting the spirit of the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of Chicago.”

Bishop David O’Connell of Trenton, N.J. praised Tobin’s commitment to the poor and marginalized.

It is the commitment to the poor and marginalized that is the métier of the Redemptorists. The Congregation’s mission, set by St. Alphonsus Liguori, is to follow the example of Jesus Christ by preaching the Word of God and joy of salvation to the poor and the most abandoned, particularly to those who live on the margins of Church and society.

Cardinal Tobin has publicly stood up for the marginalized. Late last year he defined a ban by then Go. Mike Pence of Indiana, now vice-president elect, by insisting that Catholic Charities continue to resettle 150 refugees from Syria who have taken up residence in Indiana with the help of the archdiocese.

And as the newly appointed secretary for the Vatican’s congregation for religious life he had inherited an investigation into U.S. nuns, criticized by conservative theologians as too secular and quick to steer away from established church orthodoxy wherein Tobin sided with the nuns.

In his homily Pope Francis pointed to the day’s Gospel from Luke, in which Jesus tells his disciples to “set out” to go to the plains to meet the people, rather than staying on top of the mountain. “Be merciful as your Father is merciful. We live at a time in which polarization and exclusion are burgeoning and considered the only way to resolve conflicts.”

In June Cardinal Tobin presided at a special jubilee Mass at St. Alphonsus Liguori the Rock church in St. Louis to commemorate 150 years of Redemptorist ministry in making the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help known.

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