Thomas J Tobin, the Bishop of Providence, Rhode Island, is under fire for a tweet calling on Catholics to not support or attend LGBTQ Pride Month events because they are “harmful for children,” among other things.
Tweeted Tobin: “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.”
Said Joe Lazzerini, President of Rhode Island Pride, in response: “Jesus never said a word about homosexuality, about Pride, or the Queer community. 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,” said Lazzerini. “Many Catholics are LGBTQIA+ and allies to our community, who participate in the love and diversity that is Rhode Island Pride. All are welcome to enjoy a safe, fun, and prideful celebration on Saturday, June 15th.”
A rally protesting Tobin was held on Sunday night outside of the Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul.
Tobin later backtracked, releasing a statement:
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. 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.
The Catholic Church has respect and love for members of the gay community, as do I. Individuals with same-sex attraction are beloved children of God and our brothers and sisters.
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. That is what I have always tried to do – on a variety of issues – and I will continue doing so as contemporary issues arise.
As the gay community gathers for a rally this evening, I hope that the event will be a safe, positive and productive experience for all. As they gather I will be praying for a rebirth of mutual understanding and respect in our very diverse community.