A Catholic bishop has been met with widespread condemnation online after warning fellow Catholics against supporting or attending Pride Month events.
Bishop Thomas J Tobin, the bishop for Providence, Rhode Island, made the comments in a tweet on Saturday (1 June).
Tobin wrote: ‘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.’
His comments were met with severe backlash on social media. LGBTI support group, Rhode Island Pride, also condemned Tobin’s comments.
Pride Month takes place in June each year.
This year holds particular significance for Pride Month, which will see the 50-year anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. The riots were a fundamental milestone for the modern LGBTI rights movement.
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
‘Catholic bishops should preach love, not hate’
Tobin’s tweet has been met with widespread condemnation on social media.
At the time of writing, his tweet has over 36,000 replies. The overwhelming majority of replies are highly critical of his comments.
A number of Twitter users drew attention to instances of sexual abuse committed by Catholic priests which had been covered up by the Church.
This is notably true in Pennsylvania, where the Catholic Church covered up decades of sexual abuse committed by more than 300 priests, according to a grand jury report.
Hey! Speaking of children! pic.twitter.com/45tqeeqIDU
— Parker Molloy (@ParkerMolloy) June 1, 2019
Tobin served as auxiliary bishop of Pittsburgh between 1992 to 1996, one of the six Pennsylvania dioceses included in the grand jury report.
The bishop later said that he ‘became aware of incidents of sexual abuse when they were reported to the diocese’, but claimed they were outside of his responsibilities.
Other Twitter users called out the bishop for going against the Christian teachings of love and acceptance.
A reminder that Catholic bishops should preach love, not hate. The Catholic church should also first clean its own house of the “activities that are contrary to Catholic faith and morals” before it throws stones at people who are in love with each other.
— Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) June 1, 2019
Tobin, whose Twitter account refers to him as ‘proudly pro-life’, has made anti-LGBTI statements in the past.
‘Jesus never said a word about homosexuality, about Pride, or the Queer community’
Rhode Island Pride also hit out at Tobin’s tweet.
‘Jesus never said a word about homosexuality, about Pride, or the Queer community,’ Joe Lazzerini, president of Rhode Island Pride, wrote in a statement to The Providence Journal.
‘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.
‘Many Catholics are LGBTQIA+ and allies to our community, who participate in the love and diversity that is Rhode Island Pride.’ Lazzerini added. ‘All are welcome to enjoy a safe, fun, and prideful celebration on Saturday, June 15th.’
Lazzerini also said that Rhode Island Pride will hold a rally at Cathedral Square in Providence on Sunday evening (2 June).
‘Since Bishop Tobin called on Catholics to abandon Pride & the LGBTQIA+ community, we are taking Pride directly to them,’ he added.
Rhode Island PrideFest will take place in Providence on Saturday, 15 June.