NEWARK, N.J. (ChurchMilitant.com) - Cardinal Joseph Tobin, previously head of the diocese of Indianapolis, was installed as bishop of Newark, New Jersey, on January 6. He is one of three of America's newest cardinals, elevated in November 2016 by Pope Francis, along with Blase Cupich of Chicago and Kevin Farrell of Dallas. Like Cupich and Farrell, he is known to be one of the more liberal bishops in the United States, and has questioned the wisdom of the dubia submitted by four cardinals.
At his installation Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark, he said Catholics need to move away from "hot button issues that dominate the discourse," calling them "noisy and divisive."
He continued, "[T]hey don't worry me as a growing trend that seems to isolate us, convincing us to neatly compartmentalize our life, subtly seducing us to go to Mass on Sunday and for the rest of the week, do whatever we think we need to do to get by."
He failed to describe which issues he finds to be "noisy and divisive."
Tobin has also been among the more vocal critics of the four cardinals and the dubia — a set of questions submitted by Cdl. Burke and three brother cardinals requesting Pope Francis to clarify doctrinal ambiguities in Amoris Laetitia.
Speaking to the liberal UK Catholic magazine The Tablet November 18, Tobin remarked, "The Holy Father is capturing the work of two synods, so if four cardinals say that two synods were wrong, or that somehow the Holy Father didn't reflect what was said in those synods, I think that should be questioned."
Before being consecrated a bishop under Pope Benedict XVI in 2010, Tobin was Superior General of the Redemptorists, a religious order founded by St. Alphonsus Liguori. In 2010, he was appointed secretary at the Vatican Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.
Around the same time the Vatican was conducting a two-fold investigation of 341 religious orders for women in the United States, Tobin became the apostolic visitor, investigating their ministries and organization, while the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) investigated doctrinal issues with the religious orders.
In April 2012, he criticized the way the Vatican was handling the investigation and was moved by Pope Benedict to head up the archdiocese of Indianapolis.
In November 2015, Tobin made headlines when he accepted a family of Syrian refugees, against the wishes of then-governor Mike Pence.
There are currently 10 dioceses in the United States without a bishop: Allentown, Cheyenne, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Juneau, Pensacola-Tallahassee, Raleigh and three Eastern Rite dioceses.
Four dioceses have bishops over the 75-year retirement age: Davenport, Stockton, Tucson and Washington.