New Jersey’s highest-ranking Catholic leader refused to take questions on a bill backed by Gov. Phil Murphy and some top Senate Democrats that would install protections for abortion procedures in a bid to preempt the possibility of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.
Speaking at an unrelated indoor event in Newark where masks were worn but social distancing guidelines were, at best, laxly observed, Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin declined to take questions on whether he would say to Murphy, who is Catholic, and Catholic legislators who support the measure.
Speakers, including the cardinal, removed their masks when they went to the podium.
He also declined to take questions on whether he would lobby legislators, particularly Democrats, against the bill.
The measure, announced last week, would bar out-of-pocket expenses for birth control and abortions, provide legal protections for such procedures and remove existing barriers to obtaining them.
The cardinal spent several minutes speaking with a Telemundo television crew following the event and spent several more minutes posing for photos within inches of attendees. Both the cardinal and the attendees were masked during this time.
Tobin cited a pressing scheduled event as the reason for his refusal to address the New Jersey Globe’s questions, which he was informed would take roughly one minute of his time.
Maria Margiotta, communications director for the Archdiocese of Newark, sought to screen the New Jersey Globe’s questions and, after doing so, spoke to a member of the cardinal’s security detail, which, after the conversation, sought to block the Globe’s reporter from reaching Tobin.
The cardinal and six New Jersey bishops issued a statement in opposition to the bill earlier this week.
“As the Catholic Bishops of New Jersey, we urge all Catholics and people of good will to reject this proposed legislative initiative in our state and to contact your State legislators to vigorously express opposition to its passage,” they said.”
Former Gov. James E. McGreevey, who organized the press event, declined to say if he was still pro-choice.
While serving as governor, some Catholic bishops in New Jersey refused to allow McGreevey to receive holy communion during mass because of his pro-choice positions.