Brooklyn, N.Y., Jan 31, 2017 / 04:09 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Parishioners were distressed after a priest of the Diocese of Brooklyn posted a meme on Facebook that encouraged Trump opponents to commit suicide.
“Show your hate for Trump. Do it for social justice. #JumpAgainstTrump,” the meme said. It included a cartoon of a man in mid-jump off a skyscraper. Fr. Philip J. Pizzo, pastor of St. Benedict Joseph Labre Parish, shared the meme on his personal Facebook page Jan. 29.
Parishioners told the New York Post that Fr. Pizzo often shares controversial political memes. The meme was shared just one day after President Trump announced an executive order that suspended refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. Fr. Pizzo’s parish website often double posts in English and Spanish in an effort to reach migrant families. Some said they were considering switching parishes after the recent insensitive post.
“Suicide is not funny, plain and simple,” Carlos Coburn, a congregant who once sought counseling from Fr. Pizzo because he was struggling with suicidal thoughts, told the New York Post. In a statement following the incident, Fr. Pizzo apologized for his post, which has since been deleted. “I never intended it to get this kind of reaction and I regret posting it,” he said. “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,” he said.
The Brooklyn diocese confirmed that the meme had been shared on Fr. Pizzo’s personal Facebook page. In a statement, diocesan spokesman Vito Formica said Fr. Pizzo has said he meant the meme 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,” the diocese confirmed.