Rhode Island's Roman Catholic bishop on Sunday defended a tweet urging Catholics to not support or attend LGBTQ Pride Month events, saying it was his obligation to teach the faith "clearly and compassionately, even on very difficult and sensitive issues." Diocese of Providence Bishop Thomas Tobin sparked a backlash beginning Saturday when he 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." The posting spurred rebukes by thousands of people who replied on Twitter, including actors Mia Farrow and Patricia Arquette, the AP reports. Many invoked the scandals of clergy sexual abuse of children in the church.
"This is pure ignorance & bigotry," Farrow wrote. "Ignore this hate-filled hypocrite. His mind set leads only to suffering. He brings to mind those priests who molested my brothers. Of COURSE we should embrace our LGBTQ brothers and sisters and children. Jesus spoke of love." The diocese on Sunday released a statement by Tobin. "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," Tobin said. "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 is a conservative bishop who has said that he was aware of incidents of sexual abuse reported to church officials while working in Pennsylvania, but that it wasn't his job to deal with them. (In 2013, he said Catholics should think twice before even attending same-sex weddings.)