RI Bishop Responds to Outrage Over His Pride Month Tweet
Bishop Thomas Tobin says he regrets his anti-gay tweet has "turned out to be so controversial."
The Rhode Island bishop whose anti-gay tweet ahead of Pride Month sparked protests and waves of internet scorn has come forward to offer a response to his critics.
In a statement posted Sunday by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence, Bishop Thomas Tobin says he’s standing by what he said about his state’s LGBT community, but regrets that his comments “have turned out to be so controversial in our community, and offensive to some, especially the gay community.”
Tobin on Saturday tweeted that “Catholics should not support or attend LGBTQ ‘Pride Month’ events,'” which he said “promote a culture and encourage activities that are contrary to Catholic faith and morals,” adding that the events are “especially harmful for children.”
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.
— Bishop Thomas Tobin (@ThomasJTobin1) June 1, 2019
But now, Tobin says offending the LGBT community “was not my intention, but I understand why a good number of individuals have taken offense,” adding, “I also acknowledge and appreciate the widespread support I have received on this matter.”
His message traveled rapidly online, and backlash was swift. Celebrities including Mia Farrow joined in condemning his comments, and soon tens of thousands had replied to the tweet to express outrage. On Sunday, hundreds of protesters turned out at a demonstration in the city’s Cathedral Square. According to the Boston Globe, the controversy was so severe it prompted a Providence reverend to issue an impassioned plea to gay Catholics not to abandon the church altogether.
Here’s Tobin’s full 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.