Sunday, October 30, 2016

Warwick priest: A vote for Clinton would put 'immortal soul' in peril

The Rev. Robert L. Marciano did not just bring his disdain for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to the pulpit, he told his parishioners at St. Kevin Roman Catholic Church in Warwick that: "GOD approves this message!"

"Let’s be clear," Father Marciano told his flock on Oct. 16. "She, her party, and her leaders (including the current administration of these past eight years) hate us. They hate Catholics. ... They hate everything that we stand for and the virtues and values that we hold as sacred."

"I am no fan of Mr. Trump and the recent media firestorm over his inappropriate and vulgar words is reprehensible," the priest said. "But he is not running for pope!'' 

And "I cannot vote for Mrs. Clinton since my immortal soul would be in peril by cooperating in the destruction of innocent human life,'' he said.

Father Marciano is not the first — or the only — voice of authority in the Catholic Church, in Rhode Island, wading into the national election.

In recent Facebook posts, Bishop Thomas Tobin denounced what he described as "toxic anti-Catholic prejudice within the Clinton campaign," citing comments Clinton staffers made about Catholics and evangelicals in emails published by Wikileaks earlier this month.

"The messages marginalize faithful Catholics, ridicule Catholic beliefs, and promote ideological division in the church,'' the bishop wrote.

In another more recent post just before the third and final presidential debate, the bishop stopped short of endorsing any presidential candidate.

But in his choice of words — which echoed Trump's "Make America Great Again" slogan — he gave the Republican nominee a veiled show of support.

“Whatever the outcome,'' he said of the debate, "you and I will remain faithful followers of Christ, true to our beliefs, and strive to be the ‘salt of the earth and the light of the world.' ... Only with strong Christian values can we ‘make America great again!’ ”

There was no immediate response from the Clinton campaign — or from state Rep. Joseph McNamara, the Warwick legislator who chairs the state Democratic Party — to Journal inquiries Wednesday about the comments by Father Marciano and the bishop.

But Father Marciano said his religion, in effect, required him to speak out against a candidate who supports a right to abortion, who will have the power to appoint Supreme Court justices.

"Our law, already on the cliff of immorality, will go over the edge,'' he said.

When asked about the position of the Diocese on priests taking sides in the presidential contest, the Diocese relayed this statement from Father Marciano: 

“The homily speaks clearly of the facts of the campaign and our responsibility to bring the principles of our Catholic faith with us into the voting booth. Mainly, the undisputable sanctity of human life from the moment of conception until natural death. ... It did not endorse or sanction any candidate but spoke of my concern for my immortal soul not to participate in 'intrinsic evil,' the sin of abortion.”

Noting that the bishop did not endorse a candidate, Diocesan spokeswoman Karen Davis provided a copy of the "Political Responsibility Guidelines'' issued by the Rhode Island Catholic Conference that say, in part: "Parishes and other IRS-designated section 501(c)(3) church organizations are prohibited from participating in political campaign activity.''

But "parishes and other Catholic organizations are encouraged to share the church’s teaching on the relationships between Christian faith and political life." 

More specifically, "the Church’s teaching on political responsibility, human life, human rights, and justice and peace need to be shared more widely and effectively.''

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