The U.S. Catholic bishop who grabbed headlines when he said he was “disappointed” Pope Francis had not spoken more about abortion now says he is “grateful” to the pope for widening the vision of the church.
Providence, R.I., Bishop Thomas Tobin made his newest remarks in a statement Friday, one day after Jesuit publications around the world published an exclusive interview with the pontiff, who said he felt “reprimanded” by some in the church.
“Being a Catholic does not mean having to choose between doctrine and charity, between truth and love,” Tobin writes in the statement. “It includes both. We are grateful to Pope Francis for reminding us of that vision.”
The full text of Tobin’s statement:
“I sincerely admire and appreciate the dynamic leadership that Pope Francis is bringing to the Catholic Church. I made that point repeatedly in my recent Rhode Island Catholic interview. It is an exciting time to be a Catholic, and I enthusiastically welcome the balanced and inclusive approach our Holy Father is bringing to the pastoral ministry of the Church. It is a pastoral approach I have attempted to model in the Diocese of Providence for the past eight years.
“I have spoken out clearly about the dignity of all human life and the nature of Holy Matrimony as designed by God – and will continue to do so whenever the situation warrants. It is a demand of the Gospel. But I have also addressed a variety of other important issues such as immigration reform, gun control, gambling, homelessness, vocations to the priesthood and Catholic education. At my prompting the Diocese of Providence has provided heating assistance to thousands of Rhode Islanders; we have opened an emergency shelter for the homeless; and now we have begun a comprehensive Cathedral Square Ministries program that provides for those individuals in the greatest of need within the shadow of our Cathedral. We have regularly supported food pantries and numerous other charitable programs throughout the State.
“Being a Catholic does not mean having to choose between doctrine and charity, between truth and love. It includes both. We are grateful to Pope Francis for reminding us of that vision.”