[UPDATE BELOW] A Roman Catholic priest in Queens has sparked outrage with a Facebook post suggesting that Trump opponents should commit suicide. After leading mass at the largely immigrant St. Benedict Joseph Labre church in Richmond Hill on Sunday, Pastor Philip Pizzo apparently shared the following bonus message on his Facebook page:
The message sparked outrage from several parishioners, with at least one vowing not to attend services at the church again. But Pizzo tells the NY Post that he didn't literally want people who are upset about the Trump administration to commit suicide, he was merely facetiously suggesting they commit suicide, for the lulz. "I do not promote suicide,’’ Pizzo told the tabloid. “I’ve helped many people over the years, and it does not promote suicide. It was funny.”
Pastor Pizzo's previous Facebook funnies reportedly include a photo of Hillary Clinton titled “Ugly Face’’ in Italian along with the words “Happy Halloween.’’ It seems his Facebook profile has now been set to private. Pizzo did not immediately respond to our request for comment.
The Brooklyn Diocese (which claims to serve some 1.5 million Catholics in Brooklyn and Queens) issued a statement saying, "Father Pizzo did share 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."
Update 12:54 p.m.: In response to an email inquiry, Pastor Pizzo wrote, "I apologize for the hurt that I have caused over a Facebook post. 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."
If someone you know exhibits warning signs of suicide: do not leave the person alone; remove any firearms, alcohol, drugs or sharp objects that could be used in a suicide attempt; and call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or take the person to an emergency room or seek help from a medical or mental health professional.