INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Archbishop Joseph Tobin said Monday that he’s still getting used to the idea that he will be the first sitting cardinal in the archdiocese’s history.
“My initial reaction was one of shock and a bit of embarrassment,” Tobin said at a news conference Monday morning, a day after Pope Francis named him one of 17 new cardinals.
He said he had no prior warning when he saw a lot of Twitter mentions on Sunday before going to the Vatican website to look at the list of names. One, he said, was very familiar.
“I don’t much like a spotlight like that,” he said. “I’m not quite over it yet.”
His new title brought some attention Monday morning, when he got sweaty hugs at the gym.
“Somehow the weightlifters all knew about it,” he said.
Tobin’s promotion is significant because experts say it reflects Francis’ concern for refugees. Tobin openly opposed the position of Gov. Mike Pence, the GOP vice presidential candidate, against the settling of Syrian refugees. A federal appeals court upheld last week a lower court ruling blocking Pence from keeping state agencies from helping Syrian refugees resettle.
Tobin didn’t address the issue Monday.
When Tobin is elevated at a Nov. 19 ceremony, he will become the first sitting cardinal in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. Cardinal Joseph Ritter was archbishop in Indianapolis from 1944-1946 but was elevated to cardinal in 1961, when he had been transferred to St. Louis.
Tobin said his family, including his sisters and 93-year-old mother, is still absorbing his promotion.
“She said, ‘I’ve only prayed for you to be a good priest,'” Tobin said in describing his phone conversation with his mother Sunday. “I said keep praying because I want to be a good priest to my people.”