ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (ChurchMilitant.com) - A Florida bishop is blaming the Catholic faith for leading to the recent mass shooting at an Orlando gay nightclub.
"[S]adly it is religion, including our own, which targets, mostly verbally, and also often breeds contempt for gays, lesbians and transgender people," wrote Bp. Robert Lynch of the St. Petersburg diocese on his blog Monday.
"Attacks today on LGBT men and women often plant the seed of contempt, then hatred, which can ultimately lead to violence," he continued. "Those women and men who were mowed down early yesterday morning were all made in the image and likeness of God. We teach that. We should believe that. We must stand for that."
He also refused to criticize Islam, instead denouncing those who would single out the Muslim faith as a motive for the attack — in spite of the fact that Omar Mateen, the gunman, had pledged allegiance to ISIS, and that ISIS itself — which seeks to impose Muslim law in all its conquered territories — has claimed responsibility.
"I knew that somewhere in the story there would be a search to find religious roots," Bp. Lynch said. "While deranged people do senseless things, all of us observe, judge and act from some kind of religious background. Singling out people for victimization because of their religion, their sexual orientation, their nationality must be offensive to God's ears."
"There are as many good, peace loving and God fearing Muslims to be found as Catholics or Methodists or Mormons or Seventh Day Adventists," he went on. "The devil and devilish intent escape no religious iteration."
He also used his platform to push for gun control. "It is long past time to ban the sale of all assault weapons whose use should be available only to the armed forces," he urged. "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."
The bishop blamed guns, anti-Islamic rhetoric, and language condemning homosexual behavior for fostering an atmosphere that would lead to Orlando and similar attacks. "[Until] the above three points are taken seriously by society," he remarked, "sadly, tragically, we can expect more Orlandos."
Bishop Lynch paid $100,000 to a male aid in 2002 after the aid claimed the bishop sexually harassed him. Former diocesan spokesman Bill Urbanski claimed in 2001 that Bp. Lynch had made improper sexual advances toward him. The diocese opened an investigation into the claims in fall of 2001, which concluded that "there was nothing to substantiate the allegations." Bishop Lynch himself denied the charges.
Even so, the diocese paid Urbanski $100,000, which it claims was for a severance package and was not hush money. Urbanski, however, stood by his claims of sexual harassment, saying Bp. Lynch had asked to take shirtless photos of Urbanski, that he had booked a single room for them on their travels, and that he had once reached over and massaged Urbanski's thigh while they were driving in the car. Later reports also revealed Lynch had showered Urbanski with personal gifts over the course of five years.
Bishop Lynch also came under fire in 2002 for showing favoritism to a young male contractor, giving him millions in construction projects for the diocese.
According to the St. Petersburg Times, "In less than five years, David S. Herman's construction company has received contracts and jobs with the local diocese worth more than $27 million."
When faced with criticism for failing to follow protocol by refusing to offer the contracts to multiple bidders, Bp. Lynch defended himself, claiming it was his "prerogative." Lynch admitted he and Herman — who moved to the diocese on Lynch's request — were close, talking by phone three or four times a week and visiting each other in their homes. Herman, like diocesan aid Urbanski, was a triathlete with a muscular physique.
Bishop Lynch failed to support Terri Schiavo's family in 2005 when they were fighting to keep her alive, instead issuing a statement justifying the removal of her feeding tube, even though such actions are forbidden by the Catholic Church. Schiavo died after two weeks of starvation and dehydration.
Watch the panel discuss the liberal Left's attacks on the Catholic Church in "The Download—Public Enemy #1."