Rhode Island Bishop Faces Backlash For Saying Catholics 'Should Not Support' LGBTQ Pride Month Events

A Rhode Island bishop is facing backlash for publicly declaring that devout citizens "should not support" LGBTQ Pride Month events because they "promote a culture and encourage activities that are contrary to Catholic faith and morals."

Bishop of Providence Thomas Tobin tweeted the message on Saturday, the first day of June 2019 and start of the LGBTQ Pride Month. "A reminder that Catholics should not support or attend LGBTQ 'Pride Month' events held in June," he wrote. "They promote a culture and encourage activities that are contrary to Catholic faith and morals. They are especially harmful for children."

The social media backlash that ensued caused Tobin's post to trend on Twitter over the weekend.

"A sick homophobic bigot," one Twitter user commented.

"How sad that you as a Catholic bishop encourage hate. Sadly, you may claim religion, but you engage in anything but religious behavior," another wrote.

The post has gathered more than 18,000 likes and over 76,000 comments since it was posted yesterday.

In a statement on Sunday, Tobin admitted he regretted making the comments because it "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," he continued. "I also acknowledge and appreciate the widespread support I have received on this matter."

Tobin also stated that the Catholic community has "respect and love for members of the gay community, as do I."

"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," the bishop added.

Jorge Elorza, the mayor of Providence, Rhode Island, responded to Tobin's tweet by declaring that "all people are welcome to celebrate Pride this month" in his city. "We stand with and support our LGBTQIA+ community here this June and every day in our capital city," he tweeted.

Rhode Island Pride called Tobin's comments "shameful" in a tweet on Saturday, where the group announced a rally at Cathedral Square in Providence at 6.30 p.m. on Sunday. "Tomorrow we are taking Pride to Cathedral Square in Providence at 6:30 in response to @ThomasJTobin1's shameful remarks! It's a Pride Rally to celebrate love, diversity, and inclusion!," the group wrote.

Newsweek was unable to reach the Diocese of Providence for comment on Sunday.

Gay Pride Month
File photo: Nicaraguan anti-government protesters, including members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender/Transsexual and Intersexed (LGBTI) movement, take part in an national LGBTI march for Justice and Democracy, in Managua on June 28, 2018. A Rhode Island bishop is facing backlash after he urged Catholics not to support LGBTQ Pride Month events over the weekend. Getty/Inti Ocon