Where Many Fear to Tread, One Shepherd Dares to Go

Bishop Thomas Tobin Defends Truth

Organizers of “Gay Pride” events have successfully conditioned the media and the public to talk about these parades as if they were simply celebrations of “equality.” However, even some people who are fully on board with the LGBT agenda have pointed out the obvious: these parades are often less about celebrating equality than they are about celebrating promiscuous sex – the more debauched the better.

rainbow flag

A few years ago an openly homosexual columnist in a major Canadian newspaper defended the much-derided declaration by Toronto’s former mayor that the world-famous Toronto Pride parade is just an event where “middle-aged men with pot bellies” run down the street “buck naked.” “I’d say that was just an accurate description of what goes on,” admitted Josh DehaasDisturbingly, more and more parents are bringing young children to watch the parade, exposing them to provocative displays of sexuality that no child should witness. If a politician believes in family values, why would he or she want to be associated with such debauchery?”

Truth be told, I still have a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that any parent, no matter how liberal, would bring their kids to these parades. A lot of things happen at so-called “gay pride” parades that aren’t fit for polite adult conversation, let alone for the eyes of children. It seems to me that keeping Pride parades child-free should be something that liberals and conservatives could easily agree on. After all, what benefit could there possibly be to exposing children to public nudity, simulated sex acts, highly sexualized displays of affection and dancing, etc.?

Alas, there is no such common ground to be found. After all, we now live in a world where parents openly and proudly encourage their three and four-year-old children to explore “diverse” sexualities, helping them cross-dress in sexually provocative clothing, or bring their pre-pubescent children to gay bars to dance for money, or to appear on national TV shows, where they are lauded and feted by sycophantic hosts and cheering audiences. Furthermore, we have now reached a point where even the mildest expression of dissent from even the most extreme instantiations of the LGBT agenda is greeted with rage

Bishop Tobin’s Tweet

Recently, one of the United States’ Catholic bishops learned the hard way just how bad things have gotten. One June 1, the first day of a month that has been coopted as “Pride month” by LGBT activist, Bishop Thomas Tobin sent out a tweet reminding Catholics that they should not be supporting or attending “Pride” events, which, he said, “promote a culture and encourage activities that are contrary to Catholic faith and morals.” Such events “are especially harmful for children,” noted the bishop.

bishop tobin tweet

Courtesy of Twitter

The response to this rather mild tweet was extraordinary. As of this writing, there are over 95,000 responses to the tweet – the vast majority of which are deeply, even violently critical. For simply doing the bare minimum of what his job entailsi.e., stating and defending what the Catholic Church believes and has always taught – the bishop found himself in the international spotlight, portrayed as an odious purveyor of hatred and bigotry.

Articles about his tweet appeared on CNN, The Daily Mail, the Irish Post, and countless other news publications. Famous actors and actresses took to Twitter to vent their outrage. The mayor of Providence Rhode Island, and the governor of the state, both issued statements condemning the bishop’s remark. One of the priests in Bishop Tobin’s own diocese was featured in numerous news articles, after he pleaded with homosexual parishioners not to leave the Church over the bishop’s tweet.

The next day, Bishop Tobin issued a statement expressing “regret,” not so much for the tweet itself, as the way it was received. “The Catholic Church has respect and love for members of the gay community, as do I,” the bishop stated. “Individuals with same-sex attraction are beloved children of God and our brothers and sisters.” However, he added, “As a Catholic Bishopmy 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 Lessons We Can Learn

This disturbing episode is illuminating in more ways than one. Unfortunately, some of the lessons to be learned are far from encouraging.

In the first place, it seems that we are now at a point in which a completely straight-forward, non-emotional, impersonal, and non-confrontational expression of Catholic teaching – and, for that matter, moral common sense – is widely viewed as de facto intolerance, bigotry and hatred. The organized venom aimed at Bishop Tobin is – and, one suspects, was meant to be – a message sent to every faithful Christian in the country: the mere fact that you believe what Christians have always believed about sexuality makes you an enemy and a persona non grata. Either change your views and conform or be prepared to be hounded into silence.

Bishop Tobin of the Diocese of Providence (courtesy of LifeSite News)

Indeed, the thing that stands out most strongly to me is how mild Bishop Tobin’s tweet was. To anyone with an ounce of common sense, it is clear that Gay Pride parades are harmful to the innocence of children. And to anyone who understands an iota of Catholic moral teaching, it is clear that Gay Pride parades are completely incompatible with life as a faithful Catholic. Bishop Tobin stated both of these facts in a calm, straightforward manner, without a hint of animosity. He was, in other words, doing what any priest or bishop charged with leading a flock should be expected to be doing on a regular basis – instructing the faithful in how to be better Catholics. Given the filth that young children are routinely exposed to at these parades, the bishop could easily have been justified in using stronger language.

As Catholic journalist Phil Lawler recently observed, “what is remarkable about Bishop Tobin’s tweet is that it was so unusual—that other bishops and pastors have not routinely issued similar cautions.” Indeed, one discouraging effect of Bishop Tobin’s tweet has been to highlight how rare it has become for Catholic shepherds to speak unpopular moral truths, particularly on sexual matters. If our priests and bishops were routinely catechizing the faithful on the totality of Catholic moral teaching, then the media would have had a very difficult time making Bishop Tobin’s tweet into a national story. Instead, the good bishop would have been just one among countless other bishops and priests saying exactly the same thing.

We are awash in extremist LGBT propaganda. This is especially true now, in this month of June, when nearly all the large corporations use LGBT-themed marketing, which fills our streets and airwaves. Understandably, many Catholics in the pews simply don’t know what to think, or how to respond. They do not realize how Catholic teaching is grounded in an authentic compassion for homosexual individuals, or how Catholic teaching promotes the happiness and flourishing of individuals and societies by showing how God’s gift of sexuality is best put to use: in a loving union of a man and a woman oriented towards the begetting and raising of children. In the absence of clear voices from the pulpit presenting Catholic teaching in a compelling and unapologetic way, many Catholics are simply being swept away by the prevailing message in the culture. They feel overwhelmed, confused, and brow beaten.

There is a very real human cost to this silence! As Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger wrote in the “Letter to the bishops of the Catholic Church on the pastoral care of homosexual persons”:

“[W]e wish to make it clear that departure from the Churchs teaching, or silence about it, in an effort to provide pastoral care is neither caring nor pastoral. Only what is true can ultimately be pastoral. The neglect of the Churchs position prevents homosexual men and women from receiving the care they need and deserve.

The Church’s teachings on sexuality provide the road map for human fulfillment. For a pastor to remain silent out of a fear of losing social esteem or of “offending” Catholics in the pews is to abandon the sheep to the wolves.

Good Shepherd

Indeed, a natural response to the controversy over Bishop Tobin’s tweet would have been for every other priest and bishop in the country to re-tweet the exact same message, or, at the very least, to issue a public statement supporting the bishop, and explaining Catholic teaching in a loving, compassionate way. What a great opportunity for evangelization that would have been! What a powerful message that would have sent! Instead, as the wolves circled for the kill, Bishop Tobin had more the look of a lone sheep than a shepherd among shepherds.

Even worse, the day after Bishop Tobin posted his Tweet, one extremely prominent Catholic cleric, who even enjoys an advisory role at the Vatican, tweeted out a message saying, “Catholics need not be wary of Junes #PrideMonth.” The previous day this same cleric posted a message wishing a “Happy #PrideMonth. This is a breathtaking form of moral blindness. The Catholic Church’s vision of sexuality, which has remained consistent since the earliest days of the Church, is one characterized by wholesomeness, fruitfulness, modesty, self-giving and joy. “Pride” celebrations proclaim a diametrically opposed message. It is quite true that we require creative thinkers to pursue pastoral approaches to reach out to homosexual persons in compassion and love in an effort to help them arrive at the fullness of Christian truth. However, there are simply no compelling arguments that supporting participating in wholly worldly public celebrations of sin does anything except spread confusion, at the enormous cost of souls. The hyper-sexualization of children including the expectation that parents should bring their children to “Pride” events that is increasingly a feature of the LGBT movement is especially dismaying.

As Catholics we have to support our pastors when they speak difficult truths, as well as challenge them to speak up when they remain silent. A petition supporting Bishop Tobin has received over 25,000 signatures. That’s a good start. I hope you will join me in praying for Bishop Tobin, and all of the Church’s pastors, including myself, that we will be filled with the courage that comes from the Holy Spirit, and that we will imitate the early Apostles by fearlessly proclaiming the totality of the Gospel, regardless of the personal cost.

About Fr. Shenan J. Boquet

Fr. Shenan J. Boquet has served as president of Human Life International since 2011. He was ordained in 1993 as a priest of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux, Louisiana. As HLI’s president, Fr. Boquet collaborates with fellow laborers in the pro-life and family movement in over 80 countries, offering the Sacraments, giving seminars and trainings, appearing on numerous media outlets, and encouraging people of all walks of life to live as faithful advocates for a Culture of Life and Love. He is available for interviews and bookings on behalf of HLI by emailing hli@hli.org.


  1. Louise Gottman on June 10, 2019 at 12:26 PM

    Thank you for this article. What a wonderful thing if ANY other cleric would have backed Bishop Tobin. I have sighed your petition and will certainly pray for Bishop Tobin and for all priests, bishops and cardinals to have the courage to teach the TRUTH of our faith.

  2. Kathy Savini on June 10, 2019 at 1:07 PM

    Thank you Fr. Boquet! I will pray for Bishop Tobin. I have been so distressed with the acceptance/celebration of homosexuality, and especially gay “weddings”! I recently listened to a Catholic father tell me how saddened he was that his gay daughter, who is getting “married” this weekend, was “born that way.” I listened and stayed silent, so as not to upset him with the truth. I know I acted cowardly.
    Please pray for me that I will show courage with next opportunity. God bless you!

  3. Nan G on June 10, 2019 at 1:15 PM

    Thank you, Fr. Bouquet!

  4. Edward Briody on June 10, 2019 at 1:27 PM

    Doesn’t there have to be a reason why so many Bishops and their men remain quiet on such issues. The SCANDAL is a obvious clue. They were not capable of dealing with the subject. Their Seminary training did not train them to handle sexuality. Instead of dealing with homosexuality in a rational program great efforts were directed instead at PREVENTING PARTICULAR FRIENDSHIPS. Likewise marriage could not be part of Seminary training because the attraction to the most common sexual attraction was not dealt with. Young priests in the 1960’s got married. The reason was not a mystery–the leadership again was not capable of dealing with ‘the problem’. Men had entered the Seminary training coming from Catholic families who innocently left training in Catholic living to Priests, Nuns and any clerical figure in contact with. They were not prepared to even watch TV which gladly corrupted them. JP II topped it all with his brotherly acceptance of Marcial Maciel Degollado LC ($$$) up until is was completely impossible–thanks to the secular free press.

    Right you are saying most of the clerical leadership are not preaching morality, or anything else a shepherd should be busy doing. Their whole Catholic education has ensured they are not capable. Otherwise they would have realized if so many of the most trained under direct Vatican directives produced the SCANDAL that the lay people must be in worse condition.

    Pope Francis’s new Laws on dealing with sex abuse are not going to stop it. Nothing has scared to people from all walks of life from controlling themselves. Their habits are as uncontrollable as any addiction. The best results require early but real Catholic education that prepares the young to recognize their appetite for sexual activity and deal with it. He who is faithful in what is least will be faithful in what is greater–in other words do not start bad habits which progress to the worst behaviors.

  5. Florence Sundberg on June 10, 2019 at 1:32 PM

    June 10th: I will pray for Bishop Tobin and other Shepherds like him. Can it be that most of our Bishops and Pastors are cowards or that they do not believe in the teachings of Christ and His Church. Why have so many been silent? If the Shepherds do not speak out, if they do not defend the teachings of Christ and His Church, then they are not fit to be shepherds and should relinquish their positions and make room for those who are willing to speak out boldly and fearlessly even if it means imprisonment or death as did Sts. John Fisher and Thomas More and many others. What weaklings we have as shepherds! Not all but many. Catholics should demand that our Bishops either stand with Christ and His Church and His teachings publicly and unwaveringly or step aside…if they will not then let them be known as cowards…too many have already betrayed the flock entrusted to them by sexual and financial abuses. It’s time for an accounting! It is time for the people of God to speak out and to contact those Bishops who remain silent in the face of attacks like those hitting Bishop Tobin. He needs to know that he is not alone. Let us join in prayer for him and for the Church. And let us pray for the grace and guidance of the Holy Spirit in all this.

  6. Geraldine Kearney on June 10, 2019 at 4:56 PM

    Well said Fr Boquet. The sheep would love to hear this message from their shepherds. Many of us feel like we are floundering at the present time. We want to hear Church teaching, we want to live Church teaching and we want to follow our pastors who should be doing just that.
    God bless

  7. Soledad H. on June 10, 2019 at 5:27 PM

    A Muslim acquaintance of mine stated that many of us Catholics are too “chicken” to defend our teachings and faith. Bishop Tobin did what his obligation as a pastor required of him–certainly not a “chicken” reaction! May Our Lady cover Bishop Tobin and all the other shepherds of our faith with Her mantle of courage and protection when they have to deal with sludge like this.

  8. christine schwartz on June 10, 2019 at 5:38 PM

    I will pray for our priests everyday not be silent in these depraved times. People are leaving
    the Church because too many priests talk all around moral truth without applying it to real life.
    Pope Pius VI was right again, the smoke of Satan has entered the Church. Where do I sign the petition?

  9. Agnes Gurney on June 10, 2019 at 6:45 PM

    Well said Fr Bouquet.
    I have been wondering myself as every day passes when will I be martyred by the world.
    Sadly it has already started from my family to gag me from sharing any email with a Catholic teaching contents with them or their ex Catholic spouses this very day.
    I now pray a whole rosary invoking St Michael the Archangel to defend us in the day of battle ( that has arrived .) Daily.
    I really prayed for strength this Pentecost

  10. Jen on June 10, 2019 at 10:21 PM

    Thank you, Fr. Bouquet for speaking the truth in love.

  11. Jennie Stanbro on June 10, 2019 at 10:51 PM

    God bless you Fr. for speaking the Truth & giving your support to Bishop Tobin. Except for Bishop Strickland, I have been quite upset by the silence from the American Bishops. Why hasn’t the USCCB made an announcement confirming the words of this good bishop? We, the faithful, are drowning in this muck but yet our clergy & prelates go around like “it’s business as usual”. How many signed the LifePetition of support for Bishop Tobin? I suspect, if we r lucky–maybe a handful. Authentic masculinity seems to have vanished off the face of the earth these days & sadly– that most definitely includes the priesthood. I pray for Bishops Tobin & Strickland–that they remain steadfast & persevere to the end in Truth for Our Blessed Lord. And I pray for Holy Mother Church—that the Holy Spirit will bring upon Her chosen sons a new Pentecost soon. We need holy shepherds who’s desire to be saints will cause them to rise up & answer the call of Jesus and “be not afraid”. Again thank you Fr. Bouquet–know you have my support & prayers. May God protect you & bless you—today & always!

  12. Levee Valenzuela on June 10, 2019 at 11:35 PM

    Thank you, Fr. Bouquet! The Church should stand firm for the truth.

  13. Sr. Karen-Therese, o.c.v. on June 11, 2019 at 3:32 AM

    Fr. Bouquet, thank you for your truthful and encouraging article! It takes fearless courage to speak the truth. If God is with us who can be against us? OK, OK, the devil, BUT, greater is He Who is in you than he who is in the world! One of my prayers is,
    “May God grant us the grace to be SO much in love with Jesus that we would be willing to die for our Faith, so that we will be willing to live for our Faith without fear.”
    You and all our priests (bishops, etc.) are in my prayers!

    • HLI Staff on June 12, 2019 at 2:28 PM

      God bless you, Sister! Thank you for your prayers.

  14. Jonathan Steven on June 11, 2019 at 8:03 AM

    yes, thank you again and again Fr Bouquet and especially now for your courageous defence of the Church’s teaching on sexual morality and your crystal clear warning of the peril that we and our children are facing right now, both from within and outside the Church. Bishop Tobin deserves huge respect and appreciation for his courage and truthfulness in calling out the LGBT ideology and its ‘Pride’ excresence for what it is – totally incompatible with living as a faithful Catholic, destructive of children’s innocence and ultimately destructive of the natural family. May Almighty God grant many priests now a full realisation of the dangers of this hideous corrosive ideology and give them invincible courage to defend their flocks.

    • HLI Staff on June 12, 2019 at 2:26 PM

      Thanks for your input, Jonathan!

  15. Larry Poehler on June 11, 2019 at 4:06 PM

    I pray for our church leaders to be loving but BOLD–just as Jesus did!! Jesus loved the sinner but hated the sin!! In today’s culture–people want to love the sinner and the sin. This cannot be as Catholic christians!! God bless

  16. Greg on June 13, 2019 at 11:16 PM

    Truth is Truth, even if no one believes it.

  17. Mary T Del Buono on June 13, 2019 at 11:28 PM

    Oh I am so happy finally someone has something to say about that gay life style…it is wrong…but prayers will be heard ….thank you…

  18. Julio A, Gonzalo on June 14, 2019 at 4:17 AM

    As Christ said only “Truth will make you free”: Truth is one / error is multiple.

  19. Fr Samuel Habuba on June 14, 2019 at 1:59 PM

    Such a behaviour is an attest that really Sodom and Gomorrah existed! Before the guests went to bed, the men of Sodom surrounded the house. All the men of the city, both young and old, were there. They called out to Lot and asked, “Where are the men who came to stay with you tonight? Bring them out to us!” The men of Sodom wanted to have sex with them. (Cf Gen 19:4-5 GNT)
    But then people of good will i.e Lot, denounced such barbaric acts. So the Bishop did well to rebuke such Sodom of today. May God give the Church such courage all over the world denounce the Sodom of today.

    • HLI Staff on June 26, 2019 at 9:03 AM

      Thank you for your valuable input, Fr. Habuba.

  20. ellen gaffney on June 15, 2019 at 9:02 PM

    Will be Praying that Our Blessed Mother will place her Mantle on Bishops and Clergy who Take stands on Morality and the Sacredness Of Life. having been an obstetric Nurse in Military — When Life and Motherhood was Sacred, The Culture today has made Victims of our youth. Have to believe that God will Intervene — was so heartening to see so many of our youth at the Right To Life in DC.

  21. pat kelly on June 16, 2019 at 12:35 AM

    It is the behavior that is immoral not the existence of anyone. The Church and its shepherds should emphasize the behavior. Would anyone, Catholic or otherwise, argue if a bishop said it is immoral to steal because it is a Commandment not to steal.

    It is the behavior of the thief that is immoral. Not the fact he or she exists. Homosexual behavior is immoral. Not the fact one has homosexual tendencies. A married man should not commit adultery because it is immoral behavior. It too is a Commandment.

    Leviticus Chapter 18 is on the sanctity of sex. And each verse is worse behavior in God’s eyes than the one before it. 18:22 says, “A man shall not lie down with a man the way he does with a woman”. It could not be clearer. The last verse, 23, says we are not to do it with animals. Moses writes God will vomit those out of His mouth for such behavior. Strong language indeed and something to grasp.

    So I ask our shepherds to put the emphasis on the behavior where it belongs.

    Since same-sex marriage is a violation of Leviticus 18:22, the whole pride parade behavior is against God’s laws and Commandments. They are not Requestments.

    Our precious Catholic faith is not a salad bar where one picks and choses what one likes and disregards the rest. When our Blessed Savior was with us He said If you love Me you will keep My Commandments. And then He said And I give you a new Commandment. You must love one another as I have loved you.

    As faithful Catholics we should pray for our brothers and sisters who have this heavy cross to bear of a tendency toward the same sex. We should not support their immoral behavior. We should not support adulterers or thieves for the same reason. The behavior is immoral. God says this. Not the Church.

    Let us dare to dream the vision of Creation.

  22. Mary Fortino on June 16, 2019 at 1:52 PM

    Thank you Bishop Tobin and Fr. Bouquet! May Our Lady of America watch over and protect you and may courage and fortitude uphold you.

  23. Anne Thomas on June 16, 2019 at 10:16 PM

    Many thanks for once again sharing the truth, and encouraging those of us who still believe it.

  24. Aideen on June 17, 2019 at 11:29 AM

    Dear Bishop Tobin,
    Thank you for teaching your flock, in imitation of Our Beloved Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Thank you for using your God-given courage to do so at a time when ‘liberals’ respond with viciousness to anyone who dares to see things differently.
    Friends and I pray weekly that our archbishop will teach the truth of Jesus Christ, as you have done.
    May God bless and protect you.

  25. HLI Staff on June 21, 2019 at 10:26 AM

    You are absolutely right, Julio.

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