March 31, 2005

New Providence bishop ready 'to listen and to learn'

Times Leader

Associated Press

PROVIDENCE, R.I. - A bishop from Ohio was appointed to lead the Providence Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church Thursday, as the Vatican accepted the resignation of retiring Bishop Robert Mulvee.

Bishop Thomas Tobin, who turns 57 on Friday, has led the Youngstown Diocese and its 236,000 Catholics since 1995.

"I will do my very best. I will work hard. I will give my heart and soul to this diocese," Tobin said, adding that his top priority in the next few months will be "to listen and to learn."

Mulvee introduced Tobin, a Pittsburgh native who previously served as an auxiliary bishop in the Pittsburgh Diocese, at a morning news conference at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in Providence. He called him a "young bishop," and said he had worked with Tobin in the past. ...

Tobin said he would continue to address the issue of clergy sex abuse, saying that the Providence Diocese "had an outstanding track record" on the issue. It reached a $14.25 million settlement in 2002 with 37 people who had sued the diocese over clergy sexual abuse.

Tobin said last year that 19 priests in the Youngstown diocese had been accused of sexually abusing children since 1950, but none since 1991. The diocese paid about $200,000 from 1950 to 2003 for counseling for victims and their families and paid about $300,000 to settle claims, Tobin said at the time. The diocese began a policy in 1994 of not offering settlements.

Thomas A. Shipka, chairman of the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Youngstown State University, praised Tobin's response to the clergy abuse crisis.

"He moved, I thought, in this diocese very quickly on that sex abuse issue and set up a committee that involved non-Catholics, even non-Christians, and I think he acted responsibly," Shipka said.

Posted by kshaw at March 31, 2005 06:15 PM