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Bishop Who Ignored Pedophilia: LGBTQ Pride Events 'Harm Children'

Protest in Providence

The Rhode Island bishop, who admitted turning his back on child sex abuse, claims Pride events are dangerous.

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The Roman Catholic bishop of Providence, R.I., has been met with protests and calls for his resignation after tweeting that Catholics should avoid Pride events.

Bishop Thomas Tobin tweeted Saturday that Pride events "promote a culture and encourage activities that are contrary to Catholic faith and morals" and "are especially harmful for children." The latter has led some observers to note that Tobin, while auxiliary bishop of Pittsburgh in the 1990s, knew that children were reportedly being harmed there by abusive priests.

After the initial outcry over his tweet, he issued a statement saying he understood that he had offended many in the LGBTQ community, and that this was not his intent, but he added, "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."

The statement placated few. About 350 people, including city leaders, protested Sunday night in Providence's Cathedral Square, the Providence Journal reports.

"Having that kind of hatred in his heart, as a person of faith, he doesn't get to come back" and attempt to soften the blow, Jodi Glass, one of the protesters, told the Journal. She particularly objected to his assertion that Pride events are bad for children, as educating children about diversity is a good thing, she said.

Her wife, Ruth Horton, said the church should be more concerned "with brethren moving around assaultive priests," referring to the frequent practice of merely transferring clergy members accused of assault instead of prosecuting them.

A Pennsylvania grand jury's report, released last year, documented more than 1,000 cases in which priests were accused of sexually assaulting minors. Tobin acknowledged that while serving as Pittsburgh's auxiliary bishop from 1992 to 1996, he "became aware of incidents of sexual abuse when they were reported to the diocese," as he told the Journal in 2018, but he said dealing with them was outside his area of responsibility.

The statement about Pride events has led some Catholics to urge Tobin to resign as Providence's bishop. "There have been a lot of calls today for Bishop Tobin's resignation, and I think that's something that should be seriously considered," Joe Lazzerini, president of Rhode Island Pride, told TV station WJAR Saturday.

Lazzerini is also the LGBTQ liaison to Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza, who appeared at the protest Sunday, as did City Council President Sabina Matos, the Journal reports. Elorza tweeted a statement in support of Pride events as well.

The bishop's tweet drew scores of angry replies, including some from celebrities such as Mia Farrow and Wilson Cruz.

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Trudy Ring

Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.
Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.