by Steven Ertelt
June 17, 2007
Providence, RI (LifeNews.com) — A leading abortion advocate is attempting to silence a Catholic bishop who took Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani to task over his pro-abortion position. Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin said he could never vote for Giuliani because the former New York mayor believes abortion should be legal.
Two weeks ago, Tobin, of the Diocese of Providence in Rhode Island, wrote an editorial article in the diocesan newspaper calling Giuliani’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," Tobin wrote.
"I would never support a candidate who supports legalized abortion," Tobin said.
Following the opinion column, Giuliani appeared in a presidential debate in New Hampshire where lightning struck as he was attempting to answer a question from the moderator about Tobin’s concerns. The lightning strike caused Giuliani’s microphone to temporarily go out as he responded.
On the heels of that publicity of Tobin’s column, the activist group Americans United for Separation of Church and State has asked the Internal Revenue Service to look into whether Tobin violated the Catholic Church’s tax-exempt nonprofit status.
In a statement LifeNews.com obtained, Barry Lynn, the groups director, claimed Tobin “appears to have violated federal tax law by attacking Giuliani.”
Lynn added that “federal tax law forbids non-profits to use organizational resources to support or oppose candidates for public office.”
“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 to the Associated Press until it determines if the complaint has any substance and the Diocese of Providence maintains Tobin did nothing wrong and did not endorse or oppose any political candidate.
This isn’t the first time Lynn’s group has tried to intimidate churches or church leaders to prevent them from speaking out on the beliefs of elected officials on key pro-life issues.
The organization filed a complaint in May 2004 against Colorado Springs Bishop Michael Sheridan who said Catholic voters should go to confession if they vote for candidates who favor abortion.