Bishop faces backlash after tweet about Pride Month

 

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island's Roman Catholic bishop on Sunday defended a tweet urging Catholics to not support or attend LGBTQ Pride Month events, saying it was his obligation to teach the faith "clearly and compassionately, even on very difficult and sensitive issues."

Diocese of Providence Bishop Thomas Tobin sparked a backlash beginning Saturday when he tweeted, "A reminder that Catholics should not support or attend LGBTQ 'Pride Month' events held in June. They promote a culture and encourage activities that are contrary to Catholic faith and morals. They are especially harmful for children."

The posting spurred rebukes by thousands of people who replied on Twitter, including actresses Mia Farrow and Patricia Arquette. Many invoked the scandals of clergy sexual abuse of children in the church.

"This is pure ignorance & bigotry," Farrow wrote. "Ignore this hate-filled hypocrite. His mind set leads only to suffering. He brings to mind those priests who molested my brothers. Of COURSE we should embrace our LGBTQ brothers and sisters and children. Jesus spoke of love."

Arquette tweeted, "Shame on you. LGBT kids are thrown out on the streets and abandoned because of poisonous thinking like yours."

The diocese on Sunday released a statement by Tobin.

"I regret that my comments yesterday about Pride Month have turned out to be so controversial in our community, and offensive to some, especially the gay community," Tobin said. "That certainly was not my intention, but I understand why a good number of individuals have taken offense. I also acknowledge and appreciate the widespread support I have received on this matter."

Tobin added that he and the Catholic Church have "respect and love for members of the gay community."

"As a Catholic Bishop, however, my obligation before God is to lead the faithful entrusted to my care and to teach the faith, clearly and compassionately, even on very difficult and sensitive issues," he said.

13 PHOTOS
Pride Month 2018 around the world
See Gallery
Pride Month 2018 around the world
People wave flags to celebrate Pride month during Wango Tango concert at Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles, California, U.S., June 2, 2018. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
A Detroit police car with rainbow flag on the hood during the Motor City Pride Parade at Detroit, Michigan on June 10, 2018. (Photo by Chirag Wakaskar/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Participants with rainbow flag during the Motor City Pride Parade at Detroit, Michigan on June 10, 2018. (Photo by Chirag Wakaskar/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JUNE 02: A TIFO for Pride Month during a match between the New England Revolution and the New York Red Bulls on June 2, 2018, at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. The Revolution defeated the Red Bulls 2-1. (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Activists participate in the St Petersburg LGBT Pride march on august 12, 2017 (Photo by Valya Egorshin/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Activists participate in the St Petersburg LGBT Pride march on august 12, 2017 (Photo by Valya Egorshin/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Athens Pride 2018. Thousands of people march in the streets of city center during the annual Gay Pride parade organized by LGBT activists in Athens, Greece on June 9, 2018. (Photo by Giorgos Georgiou/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
People participate in the 2018 Pirkanmaa Pride Parade, organized by the Finnish LGBTI rights organization Seta, in the city of Tampere, Finland on June 9, 2018. (Photo by Tiago Mazza Chiaravalloti/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Participants attend a gay pride march in Kiev, Ukraine, 17 June, 2018. Several thousand people have taken part in Kiev's gay pride event amid a heavy police presence as nationalist protesters tried to halt the event. Ukrainian police detained 56 far-right activists who tried to interrupt the gay pride march in central Kiev on Sunday, the police said. (Photo by STR/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Revelers dance under a giant rainbow flag during the Ibiza Gay Pride Parade on June 16, 2018 in Ibiza Town. (Photo by JAIME REINA / AFP) (Photo credit should read JAIME REINA/AFP/Getty Images)
Philadelphia celebrates the 30th Anniversary of Pride Day, celebrating the LGTBQ community, in spite of rain in Philadelphia on June 10, 2018. (Photo by Cory Clark/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Philadelphia celebrates the 30th Anniversary of Pride Day, celebrating the LGTBQ community, in spite of rain in Philadelphia on June 10, 2018. (Photo by Cory Clark/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Scene from the 30th annual Pride Parade and Festival, celebrating the LGTBQ community, in Philadelphia, PA, on June 10, 2018. (Photo by Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

As of Sunday afternoon, 69,000 people had replied to the tweet, about 15,800 liked it and nearly 4,700 retweeted it. Many of those who replied supported the bishop.

The LGBTQ group Rhode Island Pride planned a rally outside the diocese's headquarters in Providence on Sunday evening.

"Jesus never said a word about homosexuality, about Pride, or the Queer community," the group's president, Joe Lazzerini, said in a statement. "Rhode Island Pride respectfully calls on Bishop Tobin to do some self-reflection as the majority of Catholic Rhode Islanders in this state reject the idea that to be Catholic is to be complicit to intolerance, bigotry, and fear.

"Bishop Tobin doesn't represent the majority of Rhode Island Catholics who support the LGBTQIA+ community in Rhode Island," he wrote.

Tobin is a conservative bishop who has said that he was aware of incidents of sexual abuse reported to church officials while working in Pennsylvania, but that it wasn't his job to deal with them. He was auxiliary bishop of Pittsburgh from 1992 until 1996. A Pennsylvania grand jury report last year detailed decades of abuse and cover-up in six dioceses, including the Pittsburgh diocese.

In July 2018, Tobin deleted his Twitter account, calling it a major distraction, an obstacle to his spiritual life and an "occasion of sin" for himself and others. But he resumed tweeting in January, according to his current Twitter account.

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.