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The Roman Catholic Bishop of Providence declined an invitation to attend Rhode Island Governor-elect Gina Raimondo’s inauguration Tuesday due to her support for “the grave moral evil” of legalized abortion.

“Over the weekend I did receive a formal written invitation to the Inauguration, the courtesy of which I appreciated,” Bishop Thomas Tobin wrote in an email to the Providence Journal. “However, as previously announced I will be offering Holy Mass at the Cathedral at that same time to ask for God’s blessings upon our state and nation and our public servants.”

“I should add, though, that in conscience, it would always be a problem for me personally to attend the inauguration of any public official who promotes or supports abortion, which we consider to be a very grave moral evil,” the bishop continued.

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Raimondo, a Catholic, has been vocally at odds with her Church over the issue of abortion-on-demand.  She ran on a pro-abortion platform so vehement that she vowed to support a repeal of Rhode Island’s ban on partial birth abortion, and to oppose any attempt to offer a health care package on the state health exchange that explicitly excludes abortion coverage, as federal law requires.

Previously, Bishop Tobin had offered strong words in condemnation of Raimondo’s support for abortion.

“It is always disappointing when a Catholic candidate for political office abandons the teaching of the Church on the dignity of human life for the sake of self-serving political gain,” Tobin wrote.  “Such actions demonstrate an inexcusable lack of moral courage.”

“The Bishops of the United Sates addressed this situation in saying that when a Catholic, in his or her personal or professional life, knowingly repudiates the Church’s teaching on moral issues, that individual diminishes his or her communion with the Church,” Tobin added. 

“Pope Francis has explained how evil abortion really is, that every aborted child bears the face of Jesus Christ. Similarly, I wish to remind Catholics of the Diocese of Providence, in the clearest terms possible: Abortion is a sin, and those who provide it, promote it and support it will be held accountable by Almighty God for the unjust death of unborn children.’’

Tobin told WPRI News that he has no regrets about taking a hard line where abortion is concerned. 

While he conceded that Raimondo is “smart … strong … has a clear vision [and] a way of getting things done,” he reminded viewers that the “role of the bishop is to challenge behavior we think is wrong and immoral.”

“If indeed [Raimondo] takes some extreme positions or any positions that support abortion – which we consider to be a terrible, terrible evil, a plague on our society – I will be there to challenge that,” Tobin said.

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