Catholic Bishop calls for Pride Month boycott and meets with furious backlash

On June 1, the first day of Pride Month celebrating the LGBTQ community, Rhode Island bishop Thomas Tobin sent out a tweet urging his Catholic followers not to participate in any Pride related activities.

“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.

More than 80,000 had people responded by Monday morning. Some replied to the tweet to support the bishop while others invoked the scandals of sexual abuse of children by clergy members. Actresses Mia Farrow and Patricia Arquette were among those who criticized Tobin.

Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo told reporters in Newport on Monday for an unrelated event that the bishop’s comments were “very unfortunate.” She said that she stands with the LGBTQ community and that Pride Month events are an expression of equality, love and tolerance. She told WPRO-AM she doesn’t think the bishop meant to hurt anyone, but his comments made a lot of people feel unsafe, unwanted and unloved.

The Guardians of the Galaxy star, Dave Bautista, also wouldn’t stand for Tobin’s rhetoric, choosing to clap back at him on Twitter the next day.

Dave Bautista

“My mom’s a lesbian. I think I turned out ok. And the activities she chooses is to help the homeless and people suffering from mental illness. I admit I’m not perfect but at least I was never a judgmental hypocrite! I’m sure you don’t speak for most Catholics. Have a nice day,” Bautista replied, adding a middle-finger emoji.

A priest also reportedly asked his parishioners not to leave his church over the bishop’s tweet. According to the Boston Globe, Rev. Edward L. Pieroni begged gay and lesbian parishioners not to leave the church during Sunday services at St. Raymond’s Roman Catholic Church in Providence.

“A lot of people have hung in there, but it’s like, ‘One more slap and we are done.’ I am here to beg you — and I will get on my hands and knees and beg you — not to leave,” Pieroni told the congregation.

After backlash and Bautista’s tweet going viral, Tobin released a statement on Sunday saying he regretted “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,” he said in a statement to NBC News.

Still, Tobin held strong on his belief.

“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,” he added.

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