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Rhode Island Priest Bars State Lawmakers from Receiving Communion over Abortion Vote

(Brian Snyder/Reuters)

The pastor of a Rhode Island Catholic Church circulated a flyer last week to parishioners listing the names of state legislators who voted to codify abortion protections, and announcing that those same politicians would be denied Holy Communion at his parish.

On January 26, Father Richard Bucci, pastor of Sacred Heart Church in West Warwick, handed out the flier, which stated that “in accord with the teaching of the Catholic Church for 2000 years,” lawmakers who voted for the legislation would not be allowed to receive communion, as well as “act as witnesses to marriage, godparents, or lectors at weddings, funerals or any other church function.”

Bucci told the Providence Journal that it was a matter of “responsibility.”

“If they are proud of what they have done, why do they want to keep it a secret? We all hear about responsibility. Let them take responsibility,” Bucci said. “If they think this is a good and wholesome and holy thing . . . they should be proud of it, and why should I hide that from my parishioners?”

“They call me ‘Father’ so that I may have an influence in their lives, and this is a serious issue of life and death,” he added.

The bill, the “Reproductive Privacy Act,” was signed into law in June 2019 by the state’s Democratic Governor Gina Raimondo, and bans “an individual person from preventing, commencing, continuing, or terminating that individual’s pregnancy prior to fetal viability.”

At the time of the bill’s passing, Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence called it “profoundly disappointing” and “a very dark day in the history of our state.”

Asked if Tobin approved of Father Bucci’s decision, diocesan spokeswoman Carolyn Cronin told the Journal in an email that “because the Church entrusts to each pastor the duty of teaching, sanctifying, and governing his parish, the daily pastoral and administrative decisions are made at the local parish level.”

“For every sacrament, the Church provides detailed norms for preparation and reception. It is the pastor’s duty to apply them within his parish, in accord with Church law. This includes the proper reception of Holy Communion as outlined by the Code of Canon Law,” Cronin stated.

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