But he did not apologize, and he hasn’t removed the tweet.
“I regret that my comments ... 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,” Tobin said in statement posted on the diocese website Sunday. He added: “I also acknowledge and appreciate the widespread support I have received on this matter.”
Tobin, an outspoken conservative, made the inflammatory comment about in a tweet Saturday admonishing Catholics not to participate in or support Pride Month events because the LGBTQ “culture” and “activities” are “contrary” to Catholic morals and “especially harmful for children.”
The remark set off a firestorm of criticism, with many pointing out Catholic clerics’ history of child sexual abuse and coverups by the church.
Tobin himself served an an auxiliary bishop in Pittsburgh during sexual abuse there. He said he had heard of incidents of sex abuse in his diocese, but “clergy misconduct” wasn’t his responsibility. A scathing Pennsylvania grand jury report last year concluded that some 1,000 victims were abused by 300 Catholic clerics in the state.
Tobin said in his statement Sunday that the 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.”
But he also said he has an obligation to “teach the faith ... even on very difficult and sensitive issues.” He did not address his earlier comment about harm to children.
People continued to lash Tobin on Twitter, which more than 90,000 comments as of Monday night.
On Sunday, hundreds of protesters demonstrated in Providence’s Cathedral Square, the Providence Journal reported. A local priest issued a plea to LGBTQ Catholics not to abandon the church because of the controversy, the Boston Globe reported.