Vatican City, Nov 7, 2016 / 04:00 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Vatican announced Monday that recently nominated Cardinal-elect Archbishop Joseph William Tobin of Indianapolis will soon be taking over as the new head of the Newark, N.J. Archdiocese. Born in Detroit May 3, 1952, Tobin has since 2012 served as the 6th Archbishop of Indianapolis. He was ordained a Redemptorist priest in 1978 and served as the order’s superior general from 1997 to 2009.
On Oct. 9 Pope Francis named him as one of three Americans on his list of 17 new cardinal-elects, 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 but 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 will be taking over for Archbishop John J. Myers, who will retire after having reached the age limit of 75 in July. 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,” meaning dioceses that typically always have a cardinal, such as Chicago, Philadelphia and Washington.
While Tobin will be taking over in another diocese, he already has an extensive tenure in and around the Vatican, as well as in leadership. Prior to his appointment as Archbishop of Indianapolis, Tobin served as the Superior General for his congregation from 1997-2009, and then in the Vatican as Secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life from 2010-2012, where he helped oversee the more than 1 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 nominee 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 also been a papal appointee to five synods of bishops: 1998, 1999, 2001, 2005 and 2008, though he did not attend the 2014-2015 Synod of Bishops on the Family. In addition to English, the archbishop speaks Italian, Spanish, French and Portuguese.