Father Richard Bucci, a 72-year-old parish priest at Sacred Heart Church in West Warwick, made the announcement last week in the form of a flier that he gave to parishioners and also mailed them to the homes of several lawmakers.
“In accord with the teaching of the Catholic Church for 2,000 years, the following members of the legislature may NOT receive Holy Communion, as are all the officers of the state of Rhode Island, as well as Rhode Island’s members of Congress,” the flier reads.
Fr. Bucci has been criticized in the media by several politicians in response to his flier.
One of those politicians, Rep. Carol McEntee, has called on Fr. Bucci to resign immediately.
Fr. Bucci told LifeSite that he has no intention of taking McEntee’s advice. “I’m not resigning and I’m not retiring either,” he said. “I don’t think that someone who is pushing the slaughter of the unborn should tell a priest what to do.”
McEntee also called on Diocese of Providence Bishop Thomas Tobin, “to withdraw and disown this notice and issue a full apology to all individuals who are listed in this notice.”
Bishop Tobin has not commented directly on the story, but diocesan spokeswoman Carolyn Cronin wrote in response to media inquiries last week that it was the “pastor’s duty” to apply the “norms for preparation and reception” of the sacraments.
“For every sacrament, the Church provides detailed norms for preparation and reception,” she wrote. “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. 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.”
The fliers also stated that pro-abortion lawmakers will not be allowed “to act as witnesses to marriage, godparents, or lectors at weddings, funerals or any other church function.”
Fr. Bucci told LifeSite that he was partly prompted to issue the flier by an incident at a recent funeral when he had to prevent McEntee from making a eulogy. Fr. Bucci does not permit eulogies during funeral services on any occasion and told LifeSite that it was only afterward that he realized who McEntee was. His other motivation, he said, was to mark the recent anniversary of the 1973 Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision, which imposed abortion on demand across the country.
Fr. Bucci told LifeSite that he hopes that more Catholic clergy will take similar actions in order to defend the Holy Eucharist and the Church’s clear teaching on the duty of politicians not to vote for intrinsically unjust laws. “I’m saddened that there are not more bishops and priests doing this, because it is commanded in canon law,” he said
Fr. Bucci said that with the exception of one or two nasty calls he has received lots of support since the story became public.