.- The Buffalo Regional Right to Life Committee on Wednesday praised a deacon who blasted Rep. Brian Higgins during Mass on Respect Life Sunday in St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church.
Deacon Tom McDonnell's admonishment of the Buffalo Democrat for voting for federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research led Higgins and his family to walk out of the church. Higgins also has a clear history of supporting abortion and Planned Parenthood.
"God bless the deacon a thousand times. He did his job," said Stacey Vogel of the Buffalo Regional Right to Life Committee. “If every bishop, every clergy member of all faiths did their jobs, we wouldn't have the shedding of innocent life in our country.”
Higgins apologized for walking out of the church, saying that the people of St. Thomas deserved better. He said his relationship with the parish, where he was baptized and married, is "very deep, very meaningful and very long."
"The lesson here is that the Catholic Church has enough problems and should take greater care before allowing nonpriests to use the church as a forum to advance what clearly was a political agenda," Higgins said.
The pastor, Fr. Art Smith, said he felt "horrible" about the Higgins family's departure and offered an apology from the pulpit.
Bishop Edward Kmiec of Buffalo later issued a statement criticizing Deacon Tom McDonnell's action.
"The pulpit is not the appropriate place for confronting a member of the congregation. It is my belief that in situations like this, we are more effective when we have substantive, one-on-one conversations with individuals outside the context of the Mass," said the bishop.