Bishop Thomas Tobin, the outspoken head of the diocese of Providence, Rhode Island, has announced he has left the Democratic Party for the GOP after hearing the pro-choice, pro-same sex marriage stance of the party at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.
Bishop Tobin said the 2012 convention provided him with his 'a-ha moment.'
'It was just awful,' Tobin said referring to the Democratic convention before he addressed a meeting of the Rhody Young Republicans in Providence this week.
Tobin, 65, told the press that he is now unwilling to be 'associated structurally with that group, in terms of abortion and NARAL and Planned Parenthood and the same-sex marriage agenda and cultural destruction I saw going on. I just couldn’t do it anymore.'
The bishop has now changed his party registration to Republican. Irish American Tobin has reportedly been a registered Democrat since 1969.
Tobin had previously clashed with former congressman Patrick Kennedy demanding he stop receiving communion because of his support for abortion. At the time he wrote;”On February 21, 2007, I wrote to Congressman Kennedy stating: "In light of the Church's clear teaching, and your consistent actions, therefore, I believe it is inappropriate for you to be receiving Holy Communion and I now ask respectfully that you refrain from doing so."
He denied his latest move made him anti -gay "The Catholic Church has respect, love and pastoral concern for our brothers and sisters who have same-sex attraction. I sincerely pray for God’s blessings upon them, that they will enjoy much health, happiness and peace."
Tobin said he was also 'profoundly disappointed' that many Catholic politicians in the state of Rhode Island 'abandoned ship' on the issue of gay marriage. 'This was a critical issue and they let us down,' he added.
A poll released last week by Quinnipiac University found that American Catholic voters support same-sex marriage by a 54 to 38 percent margin.
Before Rhode Island legislators voted in favor of marriage equality in May, Bishop Tobin lashed out, calling them immoral and detrimental to the state. Tobin suggested that if Rhode Island passed same-sex marriage legislation, it would divide the state in harmful ways. He also warned Catholics not to attend same sex marriages.
'Catholics should examine their consciences very carefully before deciding whether or not to endorse same-sex relationships or attend same-sex ceremonies, realizing that to do so might harm their relationship with God and cause significant scandal to others,' Tobin wrote in a pastoral letter in May.
Tobin also added that he did not feel out of step with Pope Francis’ recent remarks that “if a person with a same attraction is of good will and seeks to follow the Lord, who am I to judge?”
Travis Rowley, a Republican activist, noted Tobin's previous support for 'social justice' and organized labor, and asked him how he thought Jesus Christ would have reacted if Rowley proposed abolishing the safety net of the welfare state and encouraging private charity in its place?
'I think Jesus would say that's terrific,' Tobin reportedly replied.
Rhode Island is one of the most Catholic states in the nation.