On Saturday morning, Bishop Thomas Tobin 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.
Rhode Island Pride responded by commending inclusivity shown by local Catholics and condemning the bishops remark.
Rhode Island is a welcoming and inclusive state, the organization said in a tweet of its own. This bishop doesnt represent a majority of [Rhode Island] Catholics who overwhelmingly supported marriage equality [six] years ago. Love is love. You sir are filled with hate.
Joe Lazzerini, president of Rhode Island Pride, said in a statement: 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 reject the idea that to be Catholic is to be complicit to intolerance, bigotry, and fear.
Many Catholics are 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 15 June.
Rhode Island Pride also announced a Sunday evening rally in Providence in response to Tobins shameful remarks.
In the wake of the outcry, Tobin said in a statement posted to the Dioceses website: 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.
Tobin said the Catholic church has respect and love for members of the gay community, as do I and individuals with same-sex attraction are beloved children of God and our brothers and sisters.
As a Catholic bishop, he added, 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.