Newark Cardinal Joe Tobin told a panel of Catholics Tuesday they could vote for Joe Biden in good conscience, adding that he would have a harder time justifying a vote for Donald Trump.
“I think that a person in good conscience could vote for Mr. Biden,” Cardinal Tobin told the panel on “The Church and Catholic Voters in the 2020 Election,” hosted by Boston College’s Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life. “I, frankly, in my own way of thinking, have a more difficult time with the other option.”
As many Catholic Democrats have done in recent days, the cardinal said that “no political party represents fully the Catholic moral tradition,” adding that “of the two options we have on the national political scene, there are serious reasons not to consider either party as being representative of the Catholic position.”
The cardinal also said that while certain political issues could be sufficiently serious to justify single-issue voting, abortion does not meet that standard.
“I don’t think we can reduce the current panorama of issues to how a candidate stands on a single issue, at least the ones that are before us now,” he said. “I suppose if somebody was running on a nuclear war platform advocating a holocaust, a worldwide incineration, that might be a single issue that would make the discernment a lot easier.”
By making this distinction, the cardinal seemed to suggest that the annual murder of one million unborn children in the U.S. and some 40 million worldwide does not constitute an evil of this gravity.
Last June, Mr. Biden appeared in an advertisement for abortion giant Planned Parenthood in which he promised “to do everything in [his] power” to expand access to abortion facilities if elected president.
“The worst would be to make one’s religious identity or faith, to instrumentalize it to support one’s politics, and there have been recent examples in the public square where that happened, regarding the word of God and other things,” the cardinal said in an apparent reference to President Trump’s holding up a Bible in front of the burned-out building of St. John’s Episcopal Church last June 1.
Over the past three and a half years, Cardinal Tobin has made no effort to conceal his disdain for Mr. Trump.
In July 2017, the cardinal slammed the president in an interview with the French Catholic newspaper, La Croix, calling him as a fear-monger who appeals to the “dark side of Americans.”
The current climate of insecurity “has caused an exaggerated patriotism in the United States,” suggesting that Trump plays on Americans’ fears and desires to see America “great again,” he said.
“I think President Trump appeals to the dark side of Americans,” Tobin said. “He speaks to fears, to insecurities.”
“Donald Trump is a businessman. He says he’s always looking to close a deal,” the cardinal said. “The bishops must beware of him because he tells them that he will be against abortion, that he won’t force them to pay for contraception, and in return, he asks for silence concerning his disrespectful remarks toward others or on the deportation of migrants. It’s dangerous.”
“We, American Catholics, are a church of migrants. We have always pleaded their cause,” he said.
Although his words at the time targeted President Trump, Tobin has a history of conflict with Vice President Mike Pence as well. As Archbishop of Indianapolis, Tobin openly defied then-Gov. Pence concerning the reception of Syrian refugees into the state.
Despite Pence’s objections over settling a Syrian family, which he said had not been sufficiently vetted, Archbishop Tobin moved ahead anyway.
“I informed the governor prior to the family’s arrival that I had asked the staff of Catholic Charities to receive this husband, wife, and their two small children as planned,” Tobin said.
First lady Melania Trump is the first Roman Catholic to occupy her post since Jackie Kennedy.