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Archbishop Joseph Tobin, Redemptorist, named head of Newark archdiocese

Archbishop Joseph Tobin, C.Ss.r.Vatican City (CNA/EWTN News)—The Vatican announced Monday that recently nominated Cardinal-elect Archbishop Joseph William Tobin, C.Ss.R., of Indianapolis will soon take over as the new head of the Archdiocese of Newark, N.J.

Born in Detroit May 3, 1952, he has served as the sixth archbishop of Indianapolis since 2012. He was ordained a Redemptorist priest in 1978.

On Oct. 9 Pope Francis named him as one of three Americans on his list of 17 new cardinals-elect, who will be elevated during a special Nov. 19 consistory set to coincide with the end of the Jubilee of Mercy.

Other Americans getting the red hat are Archbishop Blase Cupich of Chicago and Bishop Kevin Farrell, former head of the Dallas diocese who recently moved to Rome to carry out his new role as prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Laity, Family, and Life.

As head of the Newark Archdiocese, Tobin takes over from Archbishop John J. Myers, who will retire after having reached age 75 in July.

Archbishop Tobin’s appointment and elevation as cardinal will mark the first time in its 163-year history that the Archdiocese of Newark has been led by a cardinal. It also signals the first time a member of a religious order will preside over the diocese, which serves roughly 1.2 million Roman Catholics.

The decision fits with Francis’ tendency to appoint cardinals to non-traditional “red-hat sees”— dioceses that typically have a cardinal, such as Chicago, Philadelphia, and Washington.

Archbishop Tobin already has an extensive tenure in and around the Vatican, as well as in leadership roles.

Before his appointment to Indianapolis, Archbishop Tobin served as Superior General for the Redemptorists from 1997-2009, then in the Vatican as secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life from 2010-2012, in which role he helped oversee the more than one million men and women who are vowed religious.

During his time at the congregation, he conducted two separate investigations of American nuns. He was also responsible for the visit and reform of the male communities in Ireland during the sex-abuse crisis in the country.

In May he was appointed by the Vatican as the delegate to oversee the ongoing reforms of the Sodalitium Christianae Vitae after scandals involving their founder, Luis Fernando Figari, were made public last year.

Archbishop Tobin also seems to share Pope Francis’ sympathy for migrants and refugees. He recently sparred with Indiana governor and Republican vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence over the resettlement of Syrian refugees, saying he was determined to welcome them despite Pence’s objections.

Under his guidance the Archdiocese of Indianapolis has also set up several events to help foster Catholic–Muslim dialogue.

He has been a papal appointee to five synods of bishops—1998, 1999, 2001, 2005, and 2008—but he did not attend the 2014-2015 Synod of Bishops on the Family.

The archbishop is fluent in Italian, Spanish, French, and Portuguese.