The following comes from an August 14 story on WPRI.com.
Roman Catholic Bishop of Providence Thomas Tobin revealed Tuesday night that he recently became a registered Republican, but he also emphasized that the church and its mission shouldn’t be viewed through a narrowly partisan lens.
“The a-ha moment for me was the 2012 Democratic National Convention. It was just awful,” Tobin, 65, told the Rhody Young Republicans during an event at the Holy Rosary Band Society Hall in Providence. The leader of Rhode Island’s roughly 621,000 Catholics said he had been a registered Democrat since 1969.
“I just said I can’t be associated structurally with that group, in terms of abortion and NARAL [Pro-Choice America] and Planned Parenthood and [the] same-sex marriage agenda and cultural destruction I saw going on,” Tobin said. “I just couldn’t do it anymore.”
Tobin switched his affiliation to the Republican Party effective Jan. 5, according to voter records reviewed by WPRI.com. He is registered to vote from a house on the 140-acre grounds of the diocese’s Gate of Heaven Cemetery in East Providence.
“I’ve changed my party registration now, but the fact is that the registration itself doesn’t mean a whole lot to me,” Tobin said.
About 60 people who attended Tobin’s nearly two-hour discussion on faith and politics gave him a standing ovation before and after he spoke. He made the disclosure about his affiliation by holding up two pieces of paper – his letter from the East Providence Board of Canvassers confirming his Republican affiliation, and his baptismal certificate.
“My thesis tonight is that the two of these are related, and can be related very comfortably, and frankly if I had to choose between the two – between my party affiliation and my baptismal record – this is the one that will bring me to eternal life,” Tobin said, pointing to his certificate of baptism.
“Would Jesus be a Democrat or a Republican, a liberal or a conservative?” Tobin asked. “I’m going to punt on that question and say: all of the above and none of the above. Labeling Jesus or labeling the church or labeling me depends on the particular issue.”
Pope John Paul II appointed Tobin as the eighth Bishop of Providence just three days before the late pontiff’s death in April 2005. He could be a part of Rhode Island public life for many years to come: bishops are not required to submit their resignations to the pope until they turn 75, which for Tobin will not happen until 2023….
To read the entire report, click here.