WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — A well-known Catholic priest is making waves for preaching politics from the pulpit, in a five-page homily that criticized Hillary Clinton for her pro-choice views, and said he could not vote for her because his “immortal soul would be in peril.”
The homily, entitled “Campaign 2016: Time to Decide,” was penned by Father Robert Marciano, and delivered to his parishioners at St. Kevin’s Church in Warwick. In it, he criticizes not only Hillary Clinton but the entire Democratic Party.
“Let’s be clear that she, her party, and her leaders (including the current administration of these past eight years) hate us. They hate Catholics. Let me say it again: they hate Catholics,” the homily, which is posted on the church’s website, reads.
“I find it shocking and disingenuous that a woman who touts her life and campaign as one dedicated to women’s rights would support and mandate the killing of women,” Marciano continues.
The sermon has been gaining attention in Rhode Island. The state is overwhelmingly Democratic, majority Catholic, and Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo is a practicing Catholic who describes herself as pro-choice and has clashed with church leadership before. (The governor’s office did not respond to a request for comment.)
“You can’t say I’m pro-abortion, all these issues, and then say I’m Catholic,” Marciano said in an interview with Eyewitness News on Thursday. He said if parishioners who support Hillary Clinton felt uncomfortable – that was the point.
“I happen to be a Catholic, and I intend to vote for Hillary Clinton,” said Bill Lynch, the Rhode Island Democratic Party’s senior adviser and former chairman. “I respect him for his position, but there are a lot of us who are Democrats and Catholics, in Rhode Island and across this country, who don’t agree with him.”
Lynch emphasized that he feels Marciano had every right to speak his mind, but he disagrees with the content of the sermon, particularly the assertion that the Democratic Party hates Catholics.
“That’s just clearly not true,” Lynch said.
The sermon also criticized Michelle Obama and her daughters for their interest in rap music, which Marciano said is “laced with vulgar words and phrases — words that make one cringe and offend those of us who are trying to live decent and kind lives.”
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence had no comment on the sermon, and instead provided these “Political Responsibility Guidelines,” which states that “501(c)(3) church organizations are prohibited from participating in political campaign activity.” In those guidelines, under “activities to avoid,” the guidelines say: “Do not endorse or oppose candidates, political parties, or groups of candidates, or take any action that reasonably could be construed as endorsement or opposition.”
Father Marciano insists he did not violate that rule.
“I oppose her policies,” he said. “She can be a candidate for president.” He called the distinction a “clear difference.”
Lynch questioned whether Marciano was essentially encouraging his parishioners not to vote, considering Republican nominee Donald Trump had also violated church teaching by divorcing and re-marrying multiple times.
Marciano said he is not supporting Trump, and he did mention Trump once in his sermon: “Let me make this very clear, I am no fan of Mr. Trump and the recent media firestorm over his inappropriate and vulgar words is reprehensible. But he is not running for Pope! And let me remind you that his vulgar comments reflect a vulgar society.”
At the end of the homily, Marciano said: “My friends, my name is Father Bob Marciano and GOD approves this message!” In the interview Thursday, he said the comment was made in jest.