Father Philip Pizzo of St. Benedict Joseph Labre Roman Catholic Church, a conservative Catholic priest in the Richmond Hill area of Queens, New York City, put a meme on Facebook which encourages people who are against President Donald Trump to commit suicide.
The meme is said to have featured the words: “Show your hate for Trump. Do it for social justice. #JumpAgainstTrump.”
The 67-year-old told the New York Post, “I do not promote suicide. I’ve helped many people over the years, and it does not promote suicide. It was funny.”
However, while Father Pizzo may consider it a joke, other parishioners were not too happy:
“Suicide is not funny, plain and simple,” said Carlos Coburn, a congregant who once sought counseling from Pizzo because he was struggling with thoughts about killing himself.
Coburn said he has attended the church for 20 years but will start worshipping elsewhere, given the controversial posting.
“It’s disturbing for someone in my situation,’’ Coburn said. “I know this man, he baptized me, and I don’t want to go back to his church.”
Diocese of Brooklyn spokesman Vita Formic also told the Post:
“Father Pizzo did shared the meme in question on his personal Facebook page. He says he intended it as satire only, regrets the offense it has caused and has deleted it. This post does not, in any way, represent the view of the church.”
On the day of President Trump’s inauguration, Pope Francis urged the new leader of the free world to uphold “the advancement of human dignity.”
“At a time when our human family is beset by grave humanitarian crises demanding far-sighted and united political responses, I pray that our decisions will be guided by the rich spiritual and ethical values that have shaped the history of the American people,’’ the pontiff said.