A Rhode Island bishop who knew of child sexual abuse and took no action because he “was not primarily responsible for clergy issues” has warned church members that Pride Month events are “harmful for children.”
The Providence Journal reported on Saturday that Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas J. Tobin tweeted a reminder to his fellow Catholics that participating in or showing support for such events goes against the Church’s teachings.
“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,” the bishop tweeted.
Tobin’s comments received a mixed response on social media but drew rebuke from the gay-rights group Rhode Island Pride. In a statement to the Journal, the group’s president, Joe Lazzerini, said Rhode Island is “inclusive and welcoming state for everyone.”
He also wrote:
“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. All are welcome to enjoy a safe, fun, and prideful celebration on Saturday, June 15th.”
Lazzerini said in a subsequent email that Rhode Island Pride would hold a rally at Cathedral Square in Providence on Sunday, the Journal reported, writing, “Since Bishop Tobin called on Catholics to abandon Pride & the LGBTQIA+ community, we are taking Pride directly to them.”
Last year when Pennsylvania released a report detailing extensive child sexual abuse perpetrated by Catholic priests over the years, Tobin admitted to having knowledge of abuse during his time as auxiliary bishop of Pittsburgh in the 1990s.
In defense of his failure to take action, Tobin told the Journal it was not within the scope of his responsibilities to address improper behavior by priests:
“My responsibilities as Vicar General and General Secretary of the diocese did not include clergy assignments or clergy misconduct, but rather other administrative duties such as budgets, property, diocesan staff, working with consultative groups, etc. Even as an auxiliary bishop, I was not primarily responsible for clergy issues.”