WEST WARWICK, R.I. (AP) — The pastor of a Rhode Island church issued a flier which said that every state legislator who voted last year to preserve the right to an abortion in state law would be denied communion.
Rev. Richard Bucci distributed the fliers last week at Sacred Heart Church in West Warwick, the Providence Journal reported on Saturday. He also mailed them to the homes of several lawmakers.
“In accord with the teaching of the Catholic Church for 2000 years, the following members of the legislature may NOT receive Holy Communion, as are all the officers of the state of Rhode Island, as well as Rhode Island’s members of Congress,” the flier reads.
The fliers also said legislators wouldn’t be allowed to act as witnesses to marriage, godparents or lectors at any church functions.
“If they are proud of what they have done, why do they want to keep it a secret?” Bucci told the Journal.
The fliers were met with severe criticism from several state lawmakers, including Democratic state Rep. Carol McEntee who received a letter at her home. She called on Bucci to resign and she demanded that Bishop Thomas Tobin issue an apology.
“Both Father Bucci and Bishop Tobin need to be reminded that the U.S. Constitution requires the separation of church and state,” said McEntee, who represents Narragansett and South Kingstown.
When asked if the Rhode Island Diocese condones Bucci’s action, spokeswoman Carolyn Cronin said the Church entrusts its pastors to make pastoral and administrative decisions at “the local parish level.”