A leading abortion activist has filed a complaint with the IRS in an attempt to silence Bishop Thomas Tobin, who said he could never support Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani, who believes abortion should be legal.
In his May 31 editorial in the Rhode Island Catholic, the bishop of Providence, Rhode Island, called the former New York mayor’s pro-abortion views "pathetic," "confusing," and "hypocritical."
"Rudy's explanation is a classic expression of the position on abortion we have heard from weak-kneed politicians so frequently in recent years: 'I'm personally opposed to but don't want to impose my views on other people.' The incongruity of that position has been exposed many times now," Bishop Tobin wrote.
The bishop said Giuliani’s views lead him to think of the “sad figure of Pontius Pilate … who personally found no guilt in Jesus, but for fear of the crowd, washed his hands of the whole affair and handed Jesus over to be crucified.”
According to LifeNews.com, Americans United for Separation of Church and State has filed a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service June 13, asking that the agency look into whether Bishop Tobin violated his diocese’s tax-exempt nonprofit status.
In a statement, the group’s executive director Barry Lynn said the bishop “appears to have violated federal tax law by attacking Giuliani.”
“Federal tax law forbids non-profits to use organizational resources to support or oppose candidates for public office,” said Lynn.
“If the bishop wants to join the political fray, he should do so as an individual without dragging along his tax-exempt diocese,” Lynn said in the news release. “A church is not a political action committee, and it should not act like one.”
IRS officials would not comment on the case until it determines if the complaint has any substance. The Diocese of Providence maintains Tobin did nothing wrong and did not endorse or oppose any political candidate.
Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, has jumped into the mix as well, calling for more people to follow Bishop Tobin’s suit.
"It is not Barry Lynn who is the problem," Fr. Pavone said. "The problem is that we don't have more voices like Bishop Tobin's.
“The bishops are, in fact, with us on this issue. Their legal advisors, however, draw the line of caution much more strictly than the government does, and that's what needs to change,” the priest added.
“I'd like to hear what the same legal advisors would say if political candidates started calling for the abolishment of the Catholic Church and the imprisonment of the clergy. Would we find our voices then?”