Tobin did not offer the "grave moral reasons" that he thought might justify a vote for Biden, whose campaign has said his administration would to codify abortion protections into federal law, permit direct federal funding of abortion through the repeal of the Hyde Amendement, restore federal funding to abortion providers, and attempt to prevent the passage of limitations on abortion by state legislatures.
Biden has also said that he would repeal the religious exemption to the HHS contraceptive mandate, which granted relief to opposing groups such as the Little Sisters of the Poor; a repeal could reignite the Sisters' years-long legal battle against the mandate.
Joseph Meaney, president of the National Catholic Bioethics Center, told CNA last week that Biden has taken "the most extreme stance he could on the abortion issue."
During the panel, Tobin said Catholics should vote in favor of the common good, exercise prudence, and avoid reducing an election to "how a candidate stands on a single issue," at least, he said "within the current panorama of issues."
"I suppose if somebody was running on a nuclear war platform, advocating a holocaust, worldwide incernation, that might be the single issue that could make the discernment a lot easier," Tobin said.
Critics of Biden's agenda note that it would reinstate foreign aid to providers of abortion, and support United Nations efforts to expand protections and public funding of abortion globally. According to the Guttmacher Institute there are 73 million worldwide abortions globally.
For his part, Cardinal Tobin has been critical of the Trump administration's immigration policies and resumption of federal executions.
In a January 2019 op-ed in the New York Times, he criticized Trump's policy of building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border; Tobin said the president "is not acting with concern for the impact of the wall" on the lives of migrant families and has tried to justify its construction by using "lies and smears against the vast majority of immigrants who are law-abiding and moral."
In 2017, Cardinal Tobin told CNA that Vice President Pence and President Trump addressing the March for Life "was very encouraging," but that Trump's immigration policy "needs to be challenged and needs a respectful debate."
As Archbishop of Indianapolis in 2015, Tobin's archdiocese resettled a Syrian refugee family in Indiana despite then-governor Mike Pence's suspension of accepting Syrian refugees in the state.
Then-archbishop Tobin met with Pence over the matter and "prayerfully considered" the governor's policy before deciding to move ahead with resettling the family; Pence said he respectfully disagreed with the decision.
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Cardinal Tobin in July also asked for clemency for one of the federal death row inmates executed by the U.S. this summer, Dustin Honken.
As Trump's administration resumed the federal government's use of the penalty in 2020, Cardinal Tobin warned that Honken's execution "will reduce the government of the United States to the level of a murderer and serve to perpetuate a climate of violence which brutalizes our society in so many ways."
Tobin said he had known Honken for seven years, dating back to his time as archbishop of Indianapolis; the archdiocese includes Honken's federal prison of Terre Haute in its territorial jurisdiction.
Other U.S. bishops have also raised objections to Trump's resumption of the federal death penalty. Biden supported the death penalty until 2019, and his running mate, Kamala Harris, has been criticized for her defense of California's death penalty during her stint as the state's attorney general.
Asked what Pope Francis would say to voters, Tobin speculated Tuesday that the pope "would encourage people to make their political decisions in light of their faith, and not try to even use a pope as a prop for their own moral discernment."