Pope taps new cardinal for Newark archdiocese as he remakes US church

NEWARK, N.J. — Pope Francis is pressing his campaign to remake the U.S. church more in his likeness and is replacing the Newark archbishop criticized for mishandling sex abuse cases and spending lavishly on his retirement home.

Pope Francis (L) is greeted by the Archbishop Joseph William Tobin at the Saint Peter basilica at the Vatican on June 29, 2013. (ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)

Pope Francis is greeted by the Archbishop Joseph William Tobin at the Saint Peter basilica at the Vatican on June 29, 2013. (ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)

The Vatican on Monday announced Joseph Tobin would replace Archbishop John Myers, who reached the mandatory retirement age of 75 in July.

Tobin, currently archbishop of Indianapolis, is one of three Americans whom Francis will formally elevate as cardinal on Nov. 19 at the Vatican.

In his first public comments since his new appointment, Tobin asked Catholics on Monday not to fall prey to the political polarization that has overtaken the country.

He stressed Monday he was “not going to tell people who to vote for,” but added Catholics need to be true to themselves and their faith by helping “bring the country together.”

Tobin’s new assignment cements evidence of Francis’ high esteem and marks a transition away from an archbishop focused on drawing hard lines about Catholic orthodoxy.

The leadership change also provides a fresh start for the New Jersey archdiocese, which has been battered recently by controversies over Myers’ leadership.

Tobin said at the Newark cathedral Monday he would work to bring transparency to the archdiocese by communicating directly with clergy and parishioners. He will officially take over on Jan. 6.