FILE - In this Aug. 21, 2008 file photo, Bishop Thomas Tobin speaks during an interview in his office in Providence, R.I. Tobin, spiritual leader of the nation's most heavily Roman Catholic state, is in a public dispute over abortion with Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., a member of the nation's most famous Roman Catholic family, in November 2009. (AP Photo/Stew Milne, File)
PROVIDENCE — Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence said he is “a little bit disappointed” that Pope Francis hasn’t addressed abortion since being elected six months ago.
“I’m a little bit disappointed in Pope Francis that he hasn’t, at least that I’m aware of, said much about unborn children, about abortion, and many people have noticed that,” Tobin said during an interview published by the Rhode Island Catholic diocesan newspaper last week.
He went on to say that it would be helpful if Francis would more directly address what he called “the evil of abortion” and to encourage those involved in the anti-abortion movement.
“It’s one thing for him to reach out and embrace and kiss little children and infants as he has on many occasions. It strikes me that it would also be wonderful if in a spiritual way he would reach out and embrace and kiss unborn children,” Tobin said.
Francis’ immediate predecessors, Benedict XVI and John Paul II, made the abortion issue a priority, but Francis has made few direct remarks about abortion. That has prompted concerns from some Catholics that the pope isn’t doing enough to combat abortion, but it has been welcomed by other Catholics who see a shift in focus to the poor and vulnerable as rejuvenating for the church.
Tobin said Francis was challenging the church and the world in positive and dramatic ways, but described some of the pope’s choices as a “two-edged sword” with unintended consequences.
As examples, he said Francis’ decision to live in simple quarters rather than in the apostolic palace was a worthwhile gesture but meant he was now occupying two buildings instead of one, which he said caused security concerns. He also said Francis’ decision not to spend the summer at the customary papal villa in Castel Gandolfo had an impact on shopkeepers and other businesses in the area.