Bishop Thomas Tobin spoke with NBC 10’s Gene Valicenti about the Catholic Church’s ongoing sex abuse scandal during a taping of 10 News Conference Friday.
Before coming to the Diocese of Providence, Tobin had previously worked in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. A grand jury investigation in Pennsylvania revealed decades of child sexual abuse by priests there, with hundreds of victims.
"When [allegations of sexual abuse] were reported, they were dealt with very quickly and very responsibly,” Tobin said of his time in Pennsylvania. “So, it's not as if I didn't care. It's not as if those things were being ignored or covered up...but they were being handled by different people and different offices. And that's why my name was not involved in the grand jury report, because I didn't deal with those issues."
A similar grand jury investigation in Rhode Island would require changing state law, something the incoming Attorney General told NBC 10 he supports.
"What allegations have been made? You let people know that you're willing to listen to any allegations that are out there. Then, you review them and decide how to proceed,” said Attorney General Elect Peter Neronha.
Neronha, who is a former U.S. Attorney, said that a statewide investigation similar to the one in Pennsylvania would be worth the time and effort.
"I don't think that resources should ever be an impediment to doing what's right,” Neronha said. “You figure out how to do it, and you do it."
Tobin said that under his leadership, the Diocese of Providence has focused on victims of sexual abuse.
"I think we've done a good job,” he said of how the Diocese has handled allegations. “I think our track record is good, and we can demonstrate that."
He also said the Catholic Church as a whole has made progress on the problem.
"The church now is very, very different than it was 25 or 30 years ago. As others have said, right now, one of the safest places for a child or a young person to be is in the Catholic church,” Tobin said.
Viewers can watch Valicenti’s entire interview with Bishop Tobin on Sunday at 11:30 am on NBC 10.