Tobin Addresses Controversy Among Catholic Hierarchy, Up to Pope Francis


Late yesterday, Bishop Thomas Tobin of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence released a statement regarding claims about internal conflicts within the international Church:

First, I need to emphasize that I do not have any privileged information about this matter, nor do I have the facts necessary to come to a definitive, impartial judgement. Nonetheless, the allegations lodged by Archbishop Viganò involving Pope Francis are substantive, and need to be investigated in a prompt and just manner.

The present impasse in the Church, unfolding on an international level, has caused confusion and division among the faithful, even locally. Only Pope Francis can resolve the serious crisis in which the Church now finds herself, and I respectfully urge His Holiness to address this matter as soon as possible. The future direction of the Church, its spiritual welfare, and the faith of God’s people, are at stake.

At issue are allegations in a letter by retired nuncio to the United States Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò that high ranking members of the church hierarchy strove to protect prominent American Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who was broadly thought to make a regular practice of inappropriate relationships with seminarians and who has been accused of abusing minors.  Viganò also alleges that Pope Francis re-elevated McCarrick after Pope Benedict XVI had removed all of his privileges and ordered him to live a quiet life of prayer and penance.

Bishop Tobin spoke with the Ocean State Current about this matter earlier yesterday.  “Before, I was saying that we had a double-barrel shotgun [pointed at the Church], with the McCarrick situation and the Pennsylvania grand jury,” said Tobin, referring to the release of investigative documents showing hundreds of abuse cases in Pennsylvania over some 70 years.  “I guess it’s a triple shotgun that we have now, with all the allegations about the pope and Archbishop Viganò and the Vatican and so forth.”*

The bishop encouraged Catholics who are understandably “angry and upset and confused and wondering” to balance what they’re hearing with their own “good experiences in their parishes, with their priests, with Catholic schools, with the Church in general.”

Linking institutional divisions among cardinals and bishops to theological differences covering matters that would be considered social issues in the secular context, Bishop Tobin said:

I think it’s very clear that we’ve entered a new phase in terms of the Church on an international level. It’s unprecedented for us, at least in our time, my time, that bishops and archbishops are on different sides, publicly, on an issue, that bishops are calling cardinals liars, that some of the hierarchy have asked the pope to resign. I think this has revealed a clear power struggle, a clear rift, in the Church, and it focuses on the international level are on the pontificate of Pope Francis, and that’s not for me to say “yes” or “no” or positive or negative, but it’s clearly around his pontificate.

Still, Tobin emphasized that “every pope has supporters and detractors” and that Pope Francis is “fulfilling his pontificate as he was chosen to do and to the best of his abilities and to the best of his conscience, and we need to admire that and to support that.”


* Bracketed text added at 5:07 p.m., 8/31/18, to clarify that the bishop was characterizing how the scandals relate to each other in harming the Church, not the political weapon that one faction within the Church has against another.

  • ShannonEntropy

    So it turns out that the Pope-ster is the fricken head of The Pink Mafia
    … what a surprise !! Taking The Fifth on the Viganò allegations just like any other mobster would ;^)

    Yesterday while driving I had the Catholic Radio Channel on [ 550 AM ] and the guest was the Bishop of Springfield Mitchell Rozanski. He laughingly stated that McCarrick rose thru the ranks of The Church *in spite of* being a sexual deviant/predator

    Nope, you son-of-a-Mitch: he was elevated BECAUSE of his proclivities

    I gained my expertise in these matters while somehow escaping unscathed by spending four years in a Roman Catholic boarding seminary high school
    [ almost 50 yrs later I still sometimes dream in Latin ]

    For those of you who never heard of “The Pink Mafia”:

    My alma mater… the HS closed decades ago but the College is still there:

    • Rhett Hardwick

      I have read, seemingly credible, reports that 40% of the curia are homosexuals. Although not catholic, I do not bear them any animosity. Still, I wonder what other result could be expected among a group of men deprived of women.

  • Merle The Monster

    I find this interesting; In his statement Bishop Tobin writes that “First, I need to emphasize that I do not have any privileged information about this
    matter, nor do I have the facts necessary to come to a definitive, impartial judgement.” yet he concludes with this: ” Members of a
    family do not abandon their father, even in difficult times. ” Talking of abandonment while confessing to not having the facts strikes me as odd. Also you wrote that the bishop spoke with the Ocean State Current and as reported by you made this remarkable comment ; ” “I guess it’s a triple shotgun that we have now, with all the allegations about the pope and Archbishop Viganò and the Vatican and so forth.” It sounds as though he is saying that he and others now have a weapon to use but against who ,one can only guess.
    Katz, did you interview the Bishop?

    • Justin Katz

      Yes, I interviewed the bishop.

      Although I see how one could take the shotgun part as you have, it didn’t even occur to me as a possibility. The question was:

      “Turning to the broader scandal. When I converted about 15 years ago, it was just capital letters: The Scandal. It seems like this flare-up of it, if you will, is almost like a new stage of institutional corruption, after having had the shock of the actual allegations and incidents that actually happened. Is that your sense — that we’re kind of in a new…”

      And Bishop Tobin began his response with, “I don’t know how to characterize it exactly.”

      I’ve added bracketed text and a footnote to clarify.

      • Merle The Monster

        thanks for answering Did you ask Bishop Tobin about his time in Pittsburgh in light of the Pa. Grand Jury’s report about the allegations of abuse by the Catholic clergy in that state and city. I am not suggesting that he has information and he has already stated that his official duties did not include dealing with cases of inappropriate behavior by clergy, but it is hard to believe that he knows nothing at all . We are witnessing the ongoing investigations of Michigan State and Ohio State not just of the perpetrators but also of those who may have known or should have known and their lack of appropriate action

        • Justin Katz

          I did. I was going to post about that portion of the interview today, but the release of his statement last night made a different portion more timely for today.

          • Rhett Hardwick

            Questioning, and giving credibility to the answers of members of the upper echelons of the Church. to my mind at least, is like giving credibility to upper echelon post-war Germans that “they didn’t know about the holocaust”. If they “didn’t know”, it’s because they “didn’t want to know”. For all of it’s significant charitable endeavors, the Church may have undone itself. The Church has done this to itself before. Witness the illicit funding of St. Peters Basilica which bankrupted Europe and gave us the Reformation. Consider the Medici Pope refusing an annulment to Henry VIII, at a time when they were freely given. That was for political reasons, not a matter of faith. That gave us the Anglican Church, and later the Spanish Armada.

  • Badass Bernie

    Bishop Tobin was an ecclesiastical bureaucrat in Pittsburgh. He went along to get along.
    However,as Bishop he has tried to be a leader by speaking out on,and defending Catholic teachings. I still want to know is he ruling the
    bureaucracy in Diocese of Providence or is the bureaucracy ruling him?????;postID=7092671090840257810;onPublishedMenu=publishedposts;onClosedMenu=publishedposts;postNum=171;src=postname

    Badass Bernie