US bishop tells parents LGBTQ events harmful to children

Bishop Thomas Tobin’s comments deemed ‘dispiriting’ by Minister and criticised widely

Bishop Tobin tweeted: LGBTQ “Pride Month” events “promote a culture and encourage activities that are contrary to Catholic faith and morals. They are especially harmful for children.”  Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

Bishop Tobin tweeted: LGBTQ “Pride Month” events “promote a culture and encourage activities that are contrary to Catholic faith and morals. They are especially harmful for children.” Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

 

A tweet from a US Catholic bishop, advising parents not to let their children attend LGBTQ “Pride Month” events has been described as “dispiriting” by Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan.

In a tweet, Bishop of Providence Rhode Island Thomas Tobin said pride events are especially harmful to children.

His comments illustrated a “complete absence of tolerance, understanding and compassion. So sad and disappointing,” Mr Flanagan tweeted in response.

On Saturday, Bishop Tobin 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.”

Colm O’Gorman, whose abuse by Fr Séan Fortune and its cover-up led to the October 2005 Ferns report, the first statutory report into clerical child sex abuse in Ireland, responded “There’s shameless and then there is this guy.”

He retweeted a newspaper report from last year highlighting findings of a grand jury inquiry in Pittsburg diocese when Bishop Tobin was auxiliary bishop from 1992 to 1996. It found the bishop had been aware of the sexual abuse of children by priests but did nothing. He told the grand jury it was outside his area of responsibility.

The grand jury found that, over many decades in six Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania, including Pittsburg, more than 300 priests had sexually abused more than 1,000 identifiable survivors.

“They lied, they covered up, they abandoned me and so many others to rape and abuse, and when we spoke out, they tried to damn us and silence us. Pretty clear who is ‘harmful to children’,” Mr O’Gorman tweeted.

Minister for Culture Josepha Madigan said Bishop Tobin’s “disgraceful” comments concerned “not the God I know”.

‘Voices of inhumanity’

Justin McAleese, son of former president Mary McAleese, said the Roman Catholic Church “is not in any position to pontificate on what is or isn’t especially harmful for children”.

In a tweet he added: “pale, stale, male . . . give us a break. Celebrate #LGBTQ with #PRIDE.”

Tiernan Brady, director of the Yes Equality campaign which saw same-sex- marriage introduced in Ireland by referendum in 2015, said Bishop Tobin’s tweet was “a reminder to bishops that if you let voices of inhumanity like this gent represent you at any time of the year you will have lost all moral compass and understanding of Christianity. You will also be ignoring the will of your own flock. Happy #Pride to all – know you are not alone.”

Amanullah de Sondy, senior lecturer in contemporary Islam at UCC, responded to Bishop Tobin’s warning against LGBTQ events in June said “and so everyone who supports love over hate should head to Cork where they celebrate pride in August”.

Bishop Tobin (71) was born in Pittsburg and appointed Bishop of Providence, Rhode Island in 2005. In 2007 he wrote to then Rhode Island Congressman Patrick J Kennedy advising him not to take Communion as he supported the legalisation of access to abortion.

‘A sad day’

When then US president Barack Obama announced his support for same-sex marriage in 2012, Bishop Tobin described it as “a sad day in American history”. In a 2013 pastoral letter to Catholics in Rhode Island, he said it was “important to affirm the teaching of the church, based on God’s word, that ‘homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered,’ (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2357) and always sinful.

“And because ‘same-sex marriages’ are clearly contrary to God’s plan for the human family, and therefore objectively sinful, Catholics should examine their consciences very carefully before deciding whether or not to endorse same-sex relationships or attend same-sex ceremonies, realising that to do so might harm their relationship with God and cause significant scandal to others.”

In August 2013, BishopTobin announced he had changed his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican due to the Democratic Party’s support for access to abortion. He has also expressed himself as “a little disappointed in Pope Francis”.