2020-02-12 01:28:45 UTC
Catholic priest says "pedophilia doesn't kill anyone," but bans 44
lawmakers from receiving communion because he says abortion does
A priest in Rhode Island, Reverend Richard Bucci, made national
headlines last week by banning lawmakers who supported the state's
abortion rights bill from receiving communion at his parish. Now, he
is doubling down on that decision with a statement that's sending
shockwaves through social media.
The 72-year-old priest recently passed out fliers to parishioners
listing the names of all 44 members of the legislature who voted for
the Reproductive Privacy Act, which was signed into law last spring.
The flier stated that those individuals would also be banned from
acting as witnesses to marriage, serving as godparents, and performing
readings at weddings and funerals, citing "2,000 years" of Catholic
Then, in an interview Sunday, Bucci's rhetoric went further.
"Pedophilia doesn't kill anyone and this does," he told local station
WJAR, claiming that more children have been killed by abortion than
have been abused.
This statement didn't sit well with State Representative Carol Hagan
McEntee, a Democrat who championed Rhode Island's law to extend the
statute of limitations for child sex abuse survivors.
"When he says that pedophilia doesn't kill people, well, he clearly
doesn't understand," she told CBS News. "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."
Her colleague, State Representative Julie Casimiro, whose name was
also published in the flier, agrees.
"The Catholic Church needs to take a look at themselves and ask why
they are closing churches and losing worshipers," Casimiro wrote in a
statement to CBS News. "Could it be because Fr. Bucci's most recent
statement was that 'no one has ever died from pedophilia?' Fr. Bucci
and the diocese need to take a look from within. They need to get
their own house in order. The Pope should make a visit to Rhode
CBS News has reached out the Diocese of Providence for comment, but
has not yet heard back.
In the immediate aftermath of distributing the flier, Bucci told the
Providence Journal that local lawmakers were upset because their names
and votes were made public: "If they are proud of what they have done,
why do they want to keep it a secret?"
The issue, however, is not that the votes were made public. In fact,
one Democratic state representative called that "laughable," because
their votes on every issue are already listed on the General
Assembly's website as soon as they are tallied.
Rather, for some, it's about the separation of church and state.
They have a problem with the lack of respect for the separation of
church and state, and for our votes on behalf of our constituents
being punished by a church who protected child abusers.
— Justine Caldwell (@Justine4RI) February 1, 2020
For others, it has to do with the Catholic Church's handling of its
own pedophilia scandal and the hypocrisy they perceive in the
McEntee has had a long and fraught relationship with Sacred Heart
Church in West Warwick, Rhode Island, where Bucci now presides. She
and her older sister, Ann Hagan Web, attended Sacred Heart School from
kindergarten through the eighth grade. And Ann alleges that she was
repeatedly sexually molested by a priest there, who is now deceased,
for approximately seven years, beginning when she was just 5 years
McEntee tells CBS News that she believes Bucci's letter is less a
response to the Reproductive Privacy Act than it is a reaction to her
work with child sex abuse survivors.
"I just think it's concerning that this is the church that is taking
issue with this, out of all the churches in Rhode Island," she told
CBS News. "Personally, I feel this is a continued attack by him on me
and my family because of what happened to my sister. And he's come up
with this latest way."
Her colleague Julie Casimiro points to the time lag between the final
vote on the bill last June and Father Bucci's letter in January as
proof of that point.
"Fr. Bucci would love to have you all think this is about the
codification of Roe V Wade," she wrote to CBS News. "If it was, why
wasn't the list published last year when we took the vote? Why did
only a few lawmakers receive the mailing at home? This is retribution
to the Hagen-McEntee family for shining the light on sexual assault
within the Catholic Church and Sacred Heart, in particular."
In a fiery Facebook post after the flier was made public, Casimiro
went a step further, suggesting that the General Assembly should
respond to Father Bucci's list of lawmakers not welcome in his parish
by posting "a list of pedophile priests not welcome at the State