A CATHOLIC bishop in the United States has said he "regrets" urging worshippers not to attend LGBT Pride Month events as they are "especially harmful for children".
Thomas Tobin, Bishop of Providence in Rhode Island, sparked outrage last weekend when he tweeted that "Catholics should not support" the events being held in the US over the course of June because they promote a culture and encourage activities that are contrary to Catholic faith and morals".
The backlash on social media was swift, with hundreds of users pointing out the apparent irony of Bishop Tobin's tweet given the clergical sex abuse children around the world have suffered under his Church.
"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," the cleric said in the statement.
"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 Rhode Island Pride community is starting to gather in Cathedral Square to rally against Bishop Tobin following his tweet telling Catholics to not support or attend #PrideMonth events @ABC6 pic.twitter.com/noBpJyQESU
— Amanda Pitts (@APittsABC6) 2 June 2019
Tobin also said that "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".
He added: "As a Catholic bishop, 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."
A rally was held outside the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in Providence by members of the LGBT community and their supporters following Bishop Tobin's remarks.
Rhode Island Pride responded by commending the support shown by local Catholics in the wake of the Twitter comments.
Rhode Island is a welcoming and inclusive state. This Bishop doesn’t represent a majority of RI Catholics who overwhelmingly supported marriage equality 6 years ago. Love is love. You sir are filled with hate. https://t.co/2B81Zagw9s
— Rhode Island Pride (@Pride_RI) 1 June 2019
"Rhode Island is a welcoming and inclusive state," the organisation said in a tweet of its own.
"This bishop doesn’t 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, added: "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."
Despite the widespread condemnation of Bishop Tobin's claims, the offending tweet has nevertheless been retweeted almost 7,000 times and received over 26,000 likes.
The original post, embedded below, also had not been removed from the US clergyman's Twitter page as of Tuesday evening.
You should be thoroughly ashamed of yourself. A horrible statement. Shame on you. No-one should listen to you, especially young Catholics. You are a bigot.
— Conor McGinn MP (@ConorMcGinn) 2 June 2019