Cardinal Tobin of Newark

On Friday, January 6, 2017 His Eminence, Joseph Cardinal Tobin,  CSsR the Cardinal Priest of Santa Maria delle Grazie a Via Trionfale and former metropolitan archbishop of Indianapolis, age 64, will be installed as the tenth bishop and sixth metropolitan archbishop of Newark, New Jersey.

A Redemptorist by Religious Profession he makes the same, long-standing error of including the arms of his Religious Order in his personal arms implying jurisdiction over it. At one time he did actually serve as General Superior of his Order and could have arguably impaled a personal coat of arms with the Order’s arms. However, he did not become a bishop, and assume a coat of arms, until after his tenure as General. As I say, it is a common error for Religious prelates but it is, nevertheless, most definitely an error.



4 thoughts on “Cardinal Tobin of Newark

  1. Hans van Heijningen

    I think father Guy makes an error: sure, mgr. Tobin was a general superior of his Order, but bishops mostly adopt the Order-arms in their own arms only because they are MEMBER of that order. See f.i. cardinal O. Malley (OFM), the Redemptorists who have been bishops of Paramaribo or the Dominicans who have been bishop of Willemstad.
    In Tobins first coat of arms: yes, the CSSR-field can point to his function, but in the cases where he was archbishop of Indianapolis / Newark, these symbols only point to his being a Redemptorist.

    But luckily he was one of the (few) new bishops (Burbidge also) at present who did not change the personal halves of their shield every time he changes in function.

    1. guyselvester Post author

      Hans: I understand quite well that many bishops incorporate the arms of a Religious Order to which they belong into their own arms to indicate membership in that Order. That is still wrong. That’s what I criticized. Membership in an order does NOT entitle a man to adopt the order’s arms into his own precisely BECAUSE it implies jurisdiction over it in a heraldic context. A single member of an order cannot adopt the entire order’s arms as though it is his possession. That is precisely what including it in one’s personal arms says. While it is true that many bishops (and some popes…Pius VII) have done this that doesn’t make it correct. In each instance where this happens it is WRONG. I mentioned that Cardinal Tobin HAD BEEN general of the Redemptorists to point out why it MAY have been thought advisable to include the arms of the Order in the arms he adopted when he was first made a bishop (as Secretary of the Congregation for Religious). As general of the Redemptorists he did not have a coat of arms. Regardless, the practice of Religious placing the arms of their order in their personal arms to indicate membership in that order is heraldically WRONG and should be avoided. I’m sorry that wasn’t clear to you in my original post. Just because many examples of the same mistake can be pointed to doesn’t make a mistake not a mistake.


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