After Orlando Shooting, a Florida Catholic Bishop Says Church "Breeds Contempt for Gays"
Robert Lynch, a Catholic bishop in St. Petersburg, Florida, has said Catholicism is as much to blame for homophobia as Islam.
His comments came from his blog post Monday, remarking on the alleged religious motivation of the shooter, Omar Mateen, who opened fire in Pulse, an Orlando-based gay nightclub, killing at least 50 and injuring 53 in the early hours of Sunday.
It was the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
"Sadly it is religion, including our own, which targets, mostly verbally, and also often breeds contempt for gays, lesbians and transgender people," Lynch wrote. "Attacks today on LGBT men and women often plant the seed of contempt, then hatred, which can ultimately lead to violence."
The remarks are a departure for representatives of the Catholic church, which is well-reputed for regarding homosexual acts as "grave sins," per the Vatican's website. It distinguishes between "homosexual tendencies" and "homosexual acts," maintaining that acting on such tendencies is "intrinsically immoral and contrary to the natural law."
Adding to the controversy, Lynch took a strong stand on gun control, arguing that assault weapons should not be available to the general public and reserved exclusively for the military:
"Our founding parents had no knowledge of assault rifles which are intended to be weapons of mass destruction. In crafting the second amendment to the Constitution which I affirm, they thought only of the most awkward of pistols and heavy shotguns. I suspect they are turning in their graves if they can but glimpse at what their words now protect. It is long past time to ban the sale of all assault weapons whose use should be available only to the armed forces. If one is truly pro-life, then embrace this issue also and work for the elimination of sales to those who would turn them on innocents."
Furthermore, Lynch encouraged people not to target Islam, or any religion, in the tragedy's ensuing discourse because "deranged people do senseless things."
"Those women and men who were mowed down early yesterday morning were all made in the image and likeness of God," he wrote. "May the souls of those faithful departed who met their God early Sunday morning rest in peace, and those recovering from deep wounds heal, help and hope."