Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas J. Tobin on Sunday expressed "regret" that his tweet on Saturday urging Catholics not to take part in Pride Month events had stirred anger among LGBT people and their supporters.
"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 bishop said in afternoon email, ahead of a planned rally Sunday evening at Cathedral Square. "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."
Tobin on Saturday had 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."
Pride Month runs through June and is especially prominent this year, since it marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York City, which served as a catalyst for the gay-rights movement.
The tweet inspired a fierce reaction on Twitter among both LGBT people and their supporters, and supporters of the bishop's stance. Rhode Island Pride called for its supporters to gather Sunday to protest it.
"As the gay community gathers for a rally this evening," Bishop Tobin concluded, "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."