By Gina Martinez
A Richmond Hill priest is in hot water after sharing a meme that encouraged anti-Trump protesters to commit suicide on his personal Facebook page.
Father Philip J. Pizzo oversees St. Benedict Joseph Labre Roman Catholic Church in Richmond Hill. The meme, usually a humorous image with text written over it, posted Sunday afternoon read “Show your hate for Trump, Do it for social justice” #jumpagainsttrump. The meme depicted a man jumping out of a building window.
The Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn released a statement condemning the post, saying it does not represent the views of the church.
“Father Pizzo did share the meme in question on his personal Facebook page,” the statement said. “He says he intended it as satire only, regrets the offense it has caused, and has deleted it. Suicide is, indeed, a serious subject and this post does not in any way represent the view of the church.”
Pizzo said he regrets posting the meme and that he does not support suicide.
“I apologize for the hurt that I have caused over a Facebook post,” the priest said. “I never intended it to get this kind of reaction and I regret posting it. I have been a priest for 40 years and my goal has always been to bring Christ to the people. I am pro-life and any reference to suicide is contrary to my beliefs, therefore, making my post completely inappropriate. Again, please accept my sincerest apology.”
President Trump has had a rocky relationship with the Catholic church. In February 2016 the then candidate called the pontiff “disgraceful” after he suggested to reporters that Trump was not a Christian.
On the day of Trump’s inauguration, Pope Francis sent the president a message.
“At a time when our human family is beset by grave humanitarian crises demanding far-sighted and united political responses,” he said, “I pray that your decisions will be guided by the rich spiritual and ethical values that have shaped the history of the American people.”
St. John’s, a private Catholic university based in Jamaica, released a statement opposing Trump’s executive order that banned Muslims from seven countries from traveling to the United States.
“As a Catholic and Vincentian University with a 147-year history, St. John’s has—and will always be—a place that welcomes immigrants and the children of immigrants,” the statement said. “At St. John’s University, we support all members of the university community, regardless of their country of origin or their chosen faith. We are committed to continuing this tradition.”
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart