The Rev Richard Bucci made comment after barring 44 pro-choice lawmakers from communion last week
A Rhode Island priest who sought to ban pro-choice lawmakers from receiving communion has suggested abortion is worse than child abuse.
“We are not talking about any other moral issue, where some may make it a comparison between pedophilia and abortion,” the Rev Richard Bucci told local TV station WJAR. “Pedophilia doesn’t kill anyone and this does.”
The priest made headlines last week after posting a list of 44 state lawmakers who would be barred from communion because of their support for reproductive rights.
The note in the Sacred Heart church community bulletin included lawmakers who voted for the state’s Reproductive Privacy Act, which formally adopts into state law the 1973 US supreme court ruling legalizing abortion, also known as Roe v Wade.
Citing “2,000 years” of Catholic teachings, Bucci also barred the officials from witnessing marriages, reading during funerals and serving as godparents.
Adam Satchell, a Democratic state senator, told WJAR he had learned of his inclusion on the list and was concerned about a request to be godfather to his niece.
“My wife was excited,” he said. “It was going to be her first godchild, and now we can’t.”
The Democratic state representative Carol Hagan McEntee alleged she was asked to leave a relative’s funeral and banned from delivering the eulogy by Bucci.
According to CBS News, Hagan McEntee led the passage of a state law which extended the statute of limitations for cases of child sex abuse and her older sister previously testified about sexual abuse by a then priest at the same Sacred Heart church.
Hagan McEntee added that “the heinous crime that [Bucci’s] predecessor committed on my sister” did not compare “to what he believes I did wrong by voting”.
“When he says that pedophilia doesn’t kill people, well, he clearly doesn’t understand,” she told CBS. “He should’ve come to the statehouse and listened to the testimonies because there are lot of victims who are no longer with us.
“The injured voices that I heard – they’ve stolen their childhoods. They’ve practically destroyed their lives. And the ones we still hear from are the lucky ones because they’re the ones who are still alive; they didn’t die of an overdose or suicide. You know, there’s plenty of those that never made it long enough to come forward.”
The state representative Julie Casimiro was also named in the church flyer. In a statement, she told CBS “the Catholic church needs to take a look at themselves” to see “why they are closing churches and losing worshipers”.
“Could it be because Fr Bucci’s most recent statement was that ‘No one has ever died from pedophilia’,” the statement read.
The Roman Catholic diocese of Providence did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Carolyn Cronin, a diocese spokeswoman, told WJAR the Catholic church provides detailed instructions for sacraments but ultimately it is “the pastor’s duty to apply them within his parish, in accord with church law”.
“Because the church entrusts to each pastor the duty of teaching, sanctifying and governing his parish,” she said, “the daily pastoral and administrative decisions are made at the local parish level.”