Catholic Priest Says 'Pedophilia Doesn't Kill Anyone' After Barring Abortion-Rights Lawmakers From Communion

A priest in Rhode Island has defended his decision to ban all lawmakers who voted in favor enshrining abortion protections under state law from receiving communion at his parish.

Reverend Richard Bucci made national news last week after he declared that every legislator who voted last year to pass the bill codifying the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision will also not be allowed to act as witnesses to marriage, godparents, or lectors at weddings, funerals or any other church function.

The announcement was listed in the Sacred Heart Church in West Warwick's weekly bulletin and included dozens of names in the House and Senate. The decision was made a few days after the 47th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling.

"If they are proud of what they have done, why do they want to keep it a secret?" Bucci told the Providence Journal at the time.

Democratic State Representative Justine Caldwell (East Greenwich) was one of those who has been informed she can no longer receive communion or engage in any activity at the church after voting to pass the bill.

She described Bucci's defense of the decisions as "laughable."

"None of our votes are hidden," she tweeted. "I campaigned on this issue! If they just wanted to do a PSA, they didn't have to say we couldn't be godparents or receive communion. No one has a problem with their votes on the record.

"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."

State Representative Carol McEntee, whose sister Anne Hagen Webb was allegedly abused by a former parish priest, told The Public's Radio: "I feel that this notice is harsh and retaliatory especially toward me as well as the other elected officials.

"Although I have long ago left the Catholic Church, they continue to berate and diminish the reality of what my sister and my family have endured because of their criminal behavior and lack of remorse or contrition."

Bucci has now doubled down his defense on the ban while hitting out at those who raised issues of child abuse within the Catholic church to attack it.

"We're not talking about any other moral issue where somebody's making a comparison between pedophilia and abortion," Bucci told WJAR. "Well, pedophilia doesn't kill anyone, and this does."

Bucci added he was surprised that anyone would take issue with his stance as the church has been pro-life for more than 2,000 years.

"I don't know what else I have to say about this, that this is the teaching of the Church, the Canon Law of the church, the Second Vatican Council and the first Catechism of the church. I don't know what more evidence I should have to present.

"Doesn't anybody realize that once you say an innocent life isn't worthy of living—a child in the womb—then other life becomes meaningless?"

The Sacred Heart Church has been contacted for further comment.

Holy Communion
A priest holds a Holy Communion wafer as Pope Benedict XVI celebrates mass at Nationals Park on April 17, 2008 in Washington, D.C. A Rhode island priest has defended barring lawmakers from receiving communion at his parish because they voted on a pro-abortion bill. Win McNamee/Getty

Correction 2/11/20, 10 a.m. ET: The headline of this article was updated to use the term "abortion-rights."