Bp. Tobin (D. Providence) on Pres. Obama’s speech in Tucson! NOT impressed!

The newspaper of the Diocese of Providence, RI, has a column by His Excellency
Most Rev. Thomas J. Tobin.  We have heard from Bp. Tobin before (here and here).

My emphases and comments.

The President’s Speech; Why I Wasn’t Impressed

Once again our nation has been rocked by a terrible act of senseless violence [thank you for not calling it a “tragedy”…] – the shooting in Tucson, Arizona in which several were wounded, including a member of Congress, and several others were killed, including a federal judge and a beautiful little nine year-old girl.

Since that deadly day nearly two weeks ago, the story has dominated the news; we’ve learned many details about the deranged shooter and his innocent victims; we’ve debated the causes and consequences of the event; and we’ve prayed for all those who have suffered so much from the violence.

President Obama traveled to Tucson and did his level best to offer his sympathy and support, to encourage a city and a nation, and to invite us all to a better future marked especially by more civility in public discourse. In asking us to learn from and move beyond the terrible moment, the president appealed to Holy Scripture and to the better instincts of the human family. Noble sentiments all. As some have said, and I agree, it was his best moment as president.

[Here it comes…] As I watched Mr. Obama, though, and later reflected on his speech, I sensed there was something missing; there was something that left me cold, unimpressed and unmoved.

And suddenly it became clear. The problem, at least for me, is that President Obama’s persistent and willful promotion of abortion renders his compassionate gestures and soaring rhetoric completely disingenuous. “O come on, Bishop Tobin,” I hear you say. [“But Father! But Father!”, I can hear some of you say…] “Abortion’s not the only moral issue in the world.” Correct, I respond. Abortion’s not the only moral issue in the world but it is the most important. And, I confess, abortion policy is the prism through which I view everything this president says and does.

Is there any longer any doubt that Barack Obama is the most pro-abortion president we’ve ever had? [No, Your Excellency!  There is no doubt!]

President Obama has enthusiastically supported the Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade that has allowed virtually unrestricted access to abortion in our nation and has resulted in approximately 50 million deaths since 1973.

President Obama has consistently surrounded himself with pro-abortion advisors, and has appointed pro-abortion politicians to key positions in the federal government, including his two nominees for the Supreme Court[Remember them?  Kagan and Sotomayor?]

President Obama has promulgated policies, including the overturn of the Mexico City Policy (within the first few hours of his presidency) that requires taxpayer monies to provide abortions around the world. Similarly he signed an executive order that forces taxpayer funding of embryonic stem cell research; he signed a bill that overturned the 13-year-long ban of abortion funding in the nation’s capital; and he directed the passage of health care legislation that opens the door to federal funding of abortions and could eventually limit the freedom of religion for individuals and institutions who find abortion morally repugnant.

President Obama has made abortion a key foreign policy issue, pressuring nations to accept abortion policies; he’s supported several pro-abortion initiatives of the United Nations; and he’s appointed Hillary Clinton as the Secretary of State. Secretary Clinton has had a consistent pro-abortion record and in her international travels has promoted abortion as a human right.

Episcopal Backbone AwardThe full accounting of President Obama’s track record on abortion goes on for eight typed pages, a very sad and discouraging litany. [Anyone know to which document he is referring?] The net effect, though, is that President Obama’s shameful record on abortion leaves his touching tribute and appeal to goodness in Tucson – and other expressions of compassion – sterile and meaningless. As he stood on the stage in Tucson, he was a prophet without credentials; his speech, a song without a soul.

Perhaps the president’s most moving rhetoric was that about Christina Taylor Green, the precious nine-year-old slain in the barrage of bullets. As a father of two beautiful daughters himself, the president’s words were surely personal and sincere. Of this child he said: “In Christina we see all of our children. So curious, so trusting, so energetic and full of magic . . . So deserving of our love.” [Maybe not of life, however.  What was POTUS voting record on children who survived abortions?  When he was in Illinois and in the US Senate?]

But I can’t help but ask, respectfully, “Mr. President, why can’t you see our other children – so curious, so trusting, so energetic and full of magic, and so deserving of our love – in all of the unborn children who didn’t live because of our nation’s embrace of the abortion option?”

And in one of the most dramatic moments of his speech, Mr. Obama announced that the wounded congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords, opened her eyes for the first time just after he’d completed his visit to her. “A miracle” some proclaimed, and certainly a welcome sign of recovery at which we all rejoice.

But I can’t help but wonder how many tiny eyes will never open, will never see the light of day, because of this president’s shortsighted and zealous promotion of abortion.

It’s truly tragic that our president [Here is the word “tragic”… in a better context!] – for whose safety and well-being we pray all the time and who has demonstrated an impressive ability to inspire other people – is unable to see the deadly consequences of his abortion agenda. Perhaps we need another miracle, to open his eyes, that he might see and understand how wrong abortion is, how sinful it is, how violent it is, and how it’s destroying the life of our nation.  [As I have written at other times, if we don’t pray for miracles, we don’t get them.]  And, yes, we have to use our vote and our voices in the public square.  Grace and elbow grease.]

WDTPRS KUDOS to His Excellency Thomas J. Tobin, BISHOP in Providence, RI.

He gets the Episcopal Backbone Award.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Geoffrey says:

    Bishop Tobin is the only reason I wish I still lived in Rhode Island!

  2. wanda says:

    God bless you, Bishop Tobin! Hip-hip-hooray! Now that is a good and faithful servant. His insights are right on the mark. Perhaps someone knows a way to contact the good Bishop with our encouragement and gratitude and prayers.

    Fr. Z., I have seen that ‘list’ that the Bishop references, if I find it again, I will forward it on to you.
    Thank you for posting this marvelous statement.

  3. DisturbedMary says:

    Good thing I buckled my seatbelt before I read this. Thank you Bishop Tobin for your clarity, your kindness and your faithfulness.

  4. CarpeNoctem says:

    “As some have said, and I agree, it was his best moment as president.”

    I would say that this is a textbook definition of “damning with faint praise”. Bravo, bishop. Fasten your seatbelt, this could now turn into a very bumpy ride.

  5. JARay says:

    Congratulations to Bishop Tobin.

  6. Katherine says:

    I expect in the full statement he mentions that little Christina would be alive today if she had not been palling around with the most pro-abortion Reprensenative in the history of Arizona.

  7. TJerome says:

    Katherine, who, Obama?

  8. dmreed says:

    These comments (and the previous comments) from Bishop Tobin show why I didn’t get bent out of shape when His Excellency was appointed as secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. At the time he made comments that appeared to be sympathetic LCWR, but I’m not worried about him whitewashing the apostolic visitation. I trust he will hold them accountable. I hope I don’t eat my words later on…

  9. I hope all other Bishops will follow Bp. Tobin’s example and lead with strength and conviction. We’re behind you! Keep up the good work! We all need to speak out against abortion with vigor and point out the politicians that support the culture of death – especially the most pro-abortion politician in our country, the man in the White House.

  10. Katherine says:

    Katherine, who?

    Rep. Giffords, of course. I would think he is just the man that would give her a piece of his mind right now.

  11. Wendy says:

    Like others before you, you are mixing up Archbishop Joseph Tobin, the Secretary for the Congregation, etc., with Bishop Thomas Tobin, our dear shepherd of Providence and the subject of this post. The Archbishop made the comments about the LCWR, not Bishop Tobin.

  12. JMody says:

    @ CarpeNoctem:

    As some have said, and I agree, it was his best moment as president.

    Umm, he had nowhere to go but up? I found myself thinking this must surely be a corollary to the old saying:

    An Irishman is never drunk so long as he does not fall off the floor.

    Thank you Bishop Tobin for such clarity. You, and POTUS, are in my prayers, that he may receive your wisdom, and you his audience.

  13. bmccoy says:

    Very straight foreword and well written. I like his honesty clarity and forthrightness. Bravo Your Excellency, way to tell it like it is.

  14. Magpie says:

    God bless the good bishop! There is something very refreshing about the clarity and splendour of truth.

  15. Kate says:

    Thank you, Bishop Tobin!

  16. Dr. Eric says:

    Bishop Tobin certainly has a spine. There are very few bishops in our country that have the courage to write/speak the way he does.

    (That little episcopal spine picture makes me think of an episcopal coat of arms for a former chiropractor.)

  17. irishgirl says:

    Bravo, Bishop Tobin! A Bishop who knows how to ‘bish’!

  18. benedetta says:

    I once heard a very learned and prominent woman speak about her childhood and her observations about how her own mother reacted to the news that cutting short developing life in the womb would be permissible. Of her mother’s example toward her she said, “This mother did not scandalize her child”. And I found that very profound. I think that this Bishop has wisely chosen, though so many will balk, to go down in history as having spoken out against the very harshest injustice plaguing our land. Generations from now when people asked “Where was the Church? Why did the Church not object?”, he will be on record as having done so and I note that he has done so with the greatest civility. Since he is able to speak the truth with charity, reason, sensitivity, courage, and civility, it makes me wonder if others’ who decline to speak out, while at the same time romanticizing and prioritizing some unformed notion of civility in public discourse, have merely acceded to authoritarian currents which do not seek civility but a deathly silence.

  19. PostCatholic says:

    Without taking a side in the abortion debate, I respectfully disagree that Bishop Tobin spoke in charity. By calling the President’s “compassionate gestures and soaring rhetoric completely disingenuous” he goes quite a bit too far. I can certainly understand that distaste for a powerful opponent in an important debate might color one’s willingness to listen to anything that opponent might say on any other topic. I get emotional that way myself at times.

  20. ipadre says:

    Thank you Bishop Tobin!!! (my bishop) Would that more would speak out like Bishop Tobin!

  21. TJerome says:

    katherine, the democratic operative has struck again! by the way, the shooter was a Bush hater and a lefty!

  22. Tony Layne says:

    Beautifully written—not too sloppy-sentimental, not a hateful screed. Thanks, Bp. Tobin.

    @ Katherine: I doubt Bp. Tobin would use the poor girl’s death in such a callous manner.

  23. TJerome says:

    Katherine is a Democrat, Tony Layne. She probably was praying that the shooter of Congresswoman Giffords, was a, GASP, Republican, even though her political party is the very embodiment of evil since its platform requires Abortion on Demand!! If Pius XI were alive today I would imagine he would condemn the modern Democratic Party like he did the Nazis (Mit Brennender Sorge) and the Fascists (Non Abbiano Bisagno).

  24. Katherine says:


    Pius XI was a man of great insight, blessing the Catholic-Socialist-Liberal coalition in Weimer Germany against the Nazi-Conservative coalition. It is sad the Catholic Right, led by Von Papen, did not see this wisdom.

  25. TJerome says:

    Katherine you are a supporter of Abortion on Demand. Pius XI would condemn you and the other Catholics for Obama, the most extreme abortionist supporter of any American president. The left is evil and so are you! [You have forced me into this conversation. How many times have written that people should stick to issues and not make personal attacks? If what you wrote it true, then she is at risk of eternal separation from God in the agony of unending hell. “The left is evil…” Fine. “… so are you.” You don’t get to write that here. You no longer can write anything here, much less this sort of attack. Apologies will be accepted when offered.]

  26. I also find it typical of the left to blame violence on conservatives. Everyone knows (or should) the left historically has murdered more than the conservatives (sorry but the facists were left). Look at all the anachist and communist violence in the past two centuries world wide. Unfortunately very little of it is actually taught in most schools/ colleges though readily avaible from reputable historical sources. No wonder most of them have no problem with the murder of babies (usually labeled abortion for the sake of making it sound innocous). Thankfully the Bishop there is a true sheperd. Ours here has been praising Cuomo and telling him to continue his “evangelization.”

    For reasons unmentioned virtually none of the MSM is reporting the shooters political affiliations. Excellent article below.

  27. benedetta says:

    I think that it is important for us to pray for Katherine (and TJerome). Likely as a pro-life liberal or Democrat she is disenfranchised, has no respected voice, despite her apparent lifelong commitment to the party. I don’t agree that it is a fruitful use of time to come here and launch attacks against “conservatives” , known or historical, and it is especially evident in this post where the accusations lodged have nothing to do with the substance of the post and have the sad effect of provoking others to anger (understandably as well, and predictable). But I know from harsh experience that it is a sisyphean task to advocate for Pro-Life in liberal circles. In most there is no genuine interest in respect, dialogue, even liberal tolerance for the point of view, let alone endeavoring to listen and learn and grow and be better. No, the response typically is outright shouting anger, not so polite injunctions to silence, shaming, condescension, humiliation, intimidation, and eventual exclusion not just from leadership but mere participation and community. If someone like Katherine makes any attempt to advocate for Pro-Life in liberal or Democratic circles, blogs, politics, one must realize the hatred that she must necessarily endure. I worry that the next step is then to take the anger from the experience of being disenfranchised within the community one holds dear and brings it here in a misplaced venting of anger.

    It is a shame to the liberal movement that there is no real place for the voice of figures such as Sargent Shriver, RIP in terms of an ongoing discussion of how to go about ordering our lives with one another. We need liberals to advocate for Pro-Life within the Democratic party, in academia, in the Church, in the media and on blogs. It has gotten the movement nowhere to claim “personal opposition” while allowing the abortion industry to take increasing number of children from our midst.

  28. benedetta says:

    Also think it is fair game for a U.S. Bishop to state his reasons for not feeling ultimately very compelled by the moralizing elements in a politician or leader’s rhetoric, when at the same time another Bishop feels free to proclaim a politician or leader as an “evangelizer”.

    And yet another way would be to “look to Rome” (already we can envision the eyes rolling) and, concisely praise leaders for international accolades received which might have the effect of furthering the cause of human dignity (i.e. statement of the Vatican upon President Obama’s Nobel award just nine months into his Presidency) yet at the same time never ever failing to speak out clearly and consistently on behalf of human life.

    It’s always a cause for hope when a leader speaks to our collective ability to sacrifice for the greater good, whether it is enriched civil discourse or a step towards world peace. The leader who can do this while also publicly inspiring us in our ability to refrain from abortion in order to permit another generation to live also shows an integrity, a wisdom, a beautiful confidence in our goodness and ability to resist the worst atrocities plaguing affluent societies, and quite frankly a willingness to sacrifice his own political popularity for the sake of others.

  29. Katherine says:

    actually, Benetta, I am a member of my Democratic precinct committee. Everyone knows I am pro-life and is respectful towards me (and I am not the only pro-lifer). I can’t recall our committee ever being active in pushing abortion rights.

    My Ward Republican Chairwoman, however, is a Planned Parenthood Board member and the Coutny Chairman is a homosexual. The GOP Precinct Captain is a nice Catholic lady of whom I am social friends with. I once suggested that because of my pro-life views, maybe I should be on the Republican precinct committee. She kindly informed me that even though I am pro-life, by views on the rights of workers would make me unwelcome, unlike the Democrats who welcome me despite my minority viewpoint on abortion.

    Thank you for your concern.

  30. benedetta says:

    Katherine, Well it does still happen that in some localities there are what the national level regards as “social conservatives” in either party. And there are social conservatives in both parties on local level. But as so many Democrats are quick to point out local politics really doesn’t account for much when it comes to pro-life. And if you aren’t welcome at the state and national levels and the media (even so-called catholic sometimes) imposes a black out on your point of view then it is no longer democratic and far from liberal.
    Best regards.

  31. benedetta says:

    Also would just note that I did say that in “most” supposedly liberal circles, my experience is still the norm and from what I understand for young people who attempt to rally for prolife at high school and university level the situation is getting worse. There are some local Democrats who align with Conservatives and there are Republicans who align with Liberals. Though this started as a “who has the far worse history, conservatives or liberals” parlor game, it now has to wind up with what is your political persuasion and partisan activism. Which is futile, since no one party as constituted on the national scene matches what majority of Bishops advance as the Catholic public policy platform. That said, however, the dignity of human life is the foundation for all social justice, and without the right to life advocacy for just about any other material need though valid and necessary still rings hollow. While I would be willing to bet that not all here are card-carrying Republicans, one cannot deny that on state and national levels at least the one party allows the pro-life voice to come to the table and engage. If Katherine has so much longstanding pull with the liberal, Democratic party then one would certainly hope that she can translate this into some sort of recognition on state and national level if we are to get anywhere at all and not go back many steps under the current regime. Perhaps Katherine et al will be the force that removes the gridlock and allows the two parties to come together for the sake of the next generation.

  32. Katherine says:

    But as so many Democrats are quick to point out local politics really doesn’t account for much…

    Actually, as one leading Democrat said “All politics is local.”

  33. benedetta says:

    Katherine why did you omit what I actually said?

    Just because Tip O’Neill said something doesn’t make it a truism, does it?

    But if you can help connect the dots as to how pro-life local politics translates on the national or state levels that would be great.

    Since there are a majority of people in the U.S. who are pro life yet the Democratic party refuses to acknowledge them I would say that there is indeed a certain amount of disenfranchisement at work there which is neither liberal nor democratic, local, state, national, or in terms of media propaganda.

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