Bishop Tobin ‘off to a good start’ with Raimondo

Bishop Thomas Tobin speaks during an interview on Newsmakers in December 2014.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Roman Catholic Bishop of Providence Thomas Tobin said Tuesday he and Gov.-elect Gina Raimondo are “off to a good start,” but warned that the two could clash if Raimondo pushes an agenda that supports abortion rights when she takes office next month.

Tobin’s comments came Tuesday during a wide-ranging interview on WPRI 12’s Newsmakers that will air over the weekend.

“She’s smart, she’s strong, she has a clear vision, she has a way of getting things done,” Tobin said. “I think she has the potential of being a wonderful governor.”

Tobin and Raimondo clashed briefly during this year’s gubernatorial campaign after the general treasurer said she would seek to repeal a law banning “partial-birth” abortions. La Salle Academy, Raimondo’s alma mater, removed her photo from its Wall of Notables after Raimondo accepted an endorsement from Planned Parenthood Votes! Rhode Island in September.

Tobin said he met privately with Raimondo and her husband prior to the election to discuss the issue.

Tobin made no apologies during Tuesday’s interview for being outspoken, indicating that he believes the “role of the bishop is to challenge behavior we think is wrong and immoral.”

“If indeed she takes some extreme positions or any positions that supports abortion – which we consider to be a terrible, terrible evil, a plague on our society – I will be there to challenge that,” Tobin said.

Tobin, who registered as a Republican in 2013, has never been shy about criticizing local politicians who take a pro-choice stance, but he noted Tuesday he’s also been a vocal advocate for immigrants and low-income Rhode Island residents.

He said he doesn’t believe any of his positions interfere with his pastoral mission.

“Sometimes the church is being accused of being too conservative when we speak about abortion or same-sex marriage or contraception,” he said. “Other times when we talk about immigration reform or care of the poor of the death penalty [or] whatever, we’re accused of being too liberal, so whatever you say some people will be happy about that and some people won’t be.”

Dan McGowan ( dmcgowan@wpri.com ) covers politics and the city of Providence for WPRI.com. Follow him on Twitter: @danmcgowan

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