Developments at a Boston parish over whether a lifelong parishioner and pro-abortion politician should continue leading the congregation in song during mass demonstrates how confused Catholics are on the issue and the need for clear guidelines.
Since her Nov. 2 re-election, State Rep. Barbara L'Italien was asked by her pastor, Fr. William M. Cleary, at two meetings to step down as a cantor because of her pro-abortion stance. The St. Augustine parishioner declined the request and said she would only consider it if she receives the request in writing.
Fr. Cleary told the Eagle-Tribune that he would send the lifetime parishioner the request in writing.
While L’Italian cannot hold a leadership position while maintaining a political stance on abortion that is opposite that of the Church, she would not be denied Communion or participation in other church activities, Fr. Cleary told the Eagle-Tribune.
"I'm not trying to change her vote or her opinion because she has the right to those," he told the newspaper. "But she doesn't have a right to the pulpit. I am defending the Church's position against abortion.”
While L'Italien was not faced with abortion legislation during her first term, she was listed as "pro-choice" in the Planned Parenthood guide and voted for same-sex marriage.
"My personal views and my personal faith is something that guides me," she told the newspaper. "But it's not something that can rule me in terms of the decisions I make as a legislator. My job is to represent people of many different faiths and many different ideologies."
L'Italien said as a legislator, she is bound to serve her constituency and work by the laws of the land, which currently protect abortion rights.
Fr. Cleary told the newspaper that he waited until after the election to act and he did not know if he would have asked L'Italien to step down if she had lost to fellow parishioner and Republican, Maria Marasco.
Parishioner Collette Crowley defended Fr. Cleary's decision, saying that he is “doing his job.”
"Anybody who voices their opposition to Church teachings should not be in a leadership position, as far as I'm concerned,” Crowley told the newspaper.