- Reverend Richard Bucci has ignited outrage for comparing abortion and pedophilia, saying "pedophilia doesn't kill anyone and [abortion] does."
- Bucci made the comments in defense of his decision to deny communion to Rhode Island lawmakers who supported the state's abortion bill at his parish, NBC 10 reported.
- Bucci also placed a letter in a local newspaper that called out the state lawmakers by name, expressing that they shouldn't receive communion, serve as godparents, witness marriages, or serve in church functions.
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"We are not talking about any other moral issue, where some may make it a comparison between pedophilia and abortion. Pedophilia doesn't kill anyone and this does," Rev. Richard Bucci. told NBC 10 earlier this week.
The incendiary remarks, which come as the Catholic Church grapples with systemic child sexual abuse scandals, are the culmination of a controversy surrounding the priest's strong anti-abortion stance.
Bucci, who oversees the Sacred Heart Church in West Warwick, Rhode Island, made headlines for refusing to give communion to Rhode Island lawmakers who supported a state abortion bill, NBC 10 reported. He also sent a letter to a local newspaper calling each of the state lawmakers out by name, expressing that they also should not serve as godparents, witness marriages, or serve in church functions.
Bucci previously said his stance should come as no surprise as the Catholic Church has decried abortions for more than 2,000 years,
"Now, I don't know what else I have to say about it, this is the teaching of the church... I don't know what more evidence I should have to present," Rev. Bucci told NBC 10.
Bucci's comments about pedophilia struck a nerve with Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee, whose older sister was a victim of abuse by a former Sacred Heart priest as a child.
"They're unacceptable to all of us, you know, they're horrible, and they've inflected pain upon the victims and the survivors that have already endured so much at their hands," McEntee said at the State House on Wednesday, calling on the Catholic Diocese of Providence to take action against the priest.
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) also expressed outrage at Bucci's comparison calling it "ignorant" and "insensitive." They pointed to some of their fellow survivors who died in order to "mute the pain" and trauma of their abuse.
"Not all victims survive the devastating consequences of sexual abuse by a trusted clergyman. Many take their own lives, or overdose on the drugs they use to mute their pain," SNAP wrote in a statement. "To assert that 'pedophilia doesn't kill people,' as Fr. Bucci did, is simply wrong."
After clamorous calls from across the nation to denounce Bucci's statements and to discipline the church leader, Bishop Thomas Tobin, the bishop overseeing the Catholic Diocese of Providence, urged "all parties to refrain from unhelpful, inflammatory rhetoric," but doubled down on Bucci's anti-abortion stance, "condemning the evil of abortion."
"In the context of the present public discussion, it is important to affirm that both the sexual abuse of minors and abortion are horrific, immoral actions that have very serious, harmful consequences," Tobin said in a statement released Thursday. "But, abortion is also a sinful, immoral act, an 'abominable crime.'" It remains unclear whether Bucci will face consequences for his inflammatory comments.
Bucci later tried to backtrack on his original remarks, claiming he did not undermine the harm and crime of pedophilia. Bucci claimed to be a whistleblower in the early 1980s and '90s about possible sex abuse by fellow priests in Rhode Island, handing photo evidence to authorities, NBC 10 reported.
Bucci clarified on Wednesday that the difference between pedophilia and abortions is that a "child in the womb can never see justice."
"The child in the womb can never see justice, can never be a person who will fight for life," Bucci told NBC 10. "Whereas the person who is molested, as bad as it is, I think that there is something to be said that they can get justice. They can be helped. Their lives can be improved, and the people who did it can be punished."
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