Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island, triggered an avalanche of outrage over the weekend after he advised Christians against participating in events related to Pride Month because they promote a culture antithetical to the teachings of Jesus.
Now, Tobin has responded to outrage — and he is not backing down.
What triggered the outrage?
"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," Tobin wrote on Twitter.
The seemingly innocuous tweet that echoes traditional Christian values immediately generated outrage online, amassing nearly 100,000 responses by Tuesday.
What was the response?
The internet, along with Hollywood celebrities and politicians, rallied together to rebuke Tobin. Many voiced frustration over Tobin's claim that LGBT culture is "harmful for children."
"You know what's proven to be actually harmful to children..? The Catholic Church," one person said.
"A reminder of why religion is dangerous, sad & divisive. Doesn't your 'God' love everyone? And the track record of children being safe in the company of priests is hardly solid," another person said.
"Annnnd we wonder why there's a crisis in the Catholic Church. The countless accounts of sexual abuse by your priests is HARMFUL TO CHILDREN," another person wrote.
Actress Mia Farrow wrote:
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Hawaii) even chided Tobin:
While the vast majority of responses were of outrage toward Tobin, not all were negative.
"The Apostles were not silenced by the sin of Judas. All but one gave their lives for the sake of the Truth of Jesus Christ. His Excellency, Bishop Thomas Tobin has the courageous heart of the first Bishops. I stand with you, Your Excellency!" one supporter wrote.
What is Tobin saying now?
In a statement, Tobin expressed regret that his tweet sowed division and became a national controversy. But he explained that his duty as priest is before God — not to abandon Christian teachings in order to capitulate to the whims of popular western culture.
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.