The Anti-Abortion Hit List From a Rhode Island Priest

The actions of a Catholic priest from my hometown in Rhode Island, Reverend Richard Bucci, made national news. Reverend Bucci targeted a group of Catholic legislators in the state who voted for a pro-choice bill in 2019 that protected abortion rights. Father Bucci, in publishing the list of legislators who were pro-choice, “wanted lawmakers to ‘take responsibility’ for their views on abortion rights,” (“Catholic Priest Pledges To Deny Communion, Church Roles To Pro-Choice LawmakersHuffington Post, February 4, 2020).

In the Huffington Post article highlighting this incident, is an unbelievable revelation from 2009. The bishop of Rhode Island, Bishop Thomas Tobin, had asked former Congressperson Patrick Kennedy to not seek communion because of the former congressperson’s votes and views on reproductive choice. Tobin tweets “that politicians have a duty to ‘make courageous choices in support of life.’”

Father Bucci’s list was publicly disseminated and included the names of 66 legislators and further barred them from taking part in other church ceremonies such as acting as godparents.

Keep in mind that the Catholic Church in Rhode Island has had its share of priests who have committed sexual acts against children during priests’ tenure within the Church. Also, keep in mind that the Church in Rhode Island and the larger Church hierarchy has often acted to thwart remedial legislative initiatives to address some vile acts committed by Church officials. The Church actively campaigned against the expansion of the statute of limitations in sexual assault cases in Rhode Island.

The decades-long assault against women’s reproductive rights has been the centerpiece of the Church’s efforts since Roe v. Wade in 1973 to roll back women’s rights. It’s all about male dominance and subjugating women. It’s all about control over women’s bodies. At the end of my work as an escort at a women’s health center in Providence, Rhode Island, a bogus anti-choice information center opened across the street from the clinic, one of many such centers nationwide.

In separate polls about attitudes toward reproductive rights in Rhode Island, most Rhode Island Catholics polled, and most Rhode Islanders polled (2014 Pew Research Center and 2018 Public Religion Research Institute respectively ) for the surveys voiced support for women’s reproductive rights.

Howard Lisnoff is a freelance writer. He is the author of Against the Wall: Memoir of a Vietnam-Era War Resister (2017).