Priest Defends As 'Funny' His 'Jump For Trump' Suicide Post On Social Media
A conservative Catholic priest who oversees a church in the largely immigrant area of Queens, New York has come under fire after using a social media post to instruct Donald Trump protesters to commit suicide.
"Show your hate for Trump. Do it for social justice. #JumpAgainstTrump," read a 'meme' from by Father Philip Pizzo just hours after he celebrated Mass on Sunday, the New York Post reported.
The message included an illustration of a man plummeting from a skyscraper.
The priest, who is attached to St Benedict Joseph Labre Roman Catholic Church in Richmond Hill, had previously posted a photo of Barack Obama with the words "He's not my president'' and a picture of Hillary Clinton titled "Ugly Face'' in Italian along with "Happy Halloween.''
The 67-year-old told the Post on Monday that he considered the "Jump Against Trump'' meme was "funny." He claimed: "I do not promote suicide. I've helped many people over the years, and it does not promote suicide. It was funny."
However, members of the congregation and parishioners were outraged.
"Suicide is not funny, plain and simple," said Carlos Coburn, a congregant who once sought counselling from Pizzo because he was struggling with thoughts about killing himself.
Coburn said that he has attended the church for twenty years but will start worshipping elsewhere after Pizzo's posting.
"It's disturbing for someone in my situation,'' Coburn said. "I know this man, he baptised me, and I don't want to go back to his church."
Another parishioner said that Pizzo "normally posts about supporting Trump, but this was just taking it too far'.'
Alex Leston, who attended St Benedict until three years ago, said he was "appalled" by the post and added that it shows how disconnected Pizzo is from his parishioners, who are mainly from Hispanic immigrant backgrounds.
"The parish he is supposed to be serving is mainly Latin American and Caribbean," he said. "It's not a good look for him."
A spokesperson for the Diocese of Brooklyn said the post does not reflect the Church's stance and has been removed.
"Father Pizzo did share the meme in question on his personal Facebook page," said the spokesperson, Vito Formica.
"He says he intended it as satire only, regrets the offence it has caused and has deleted it. This post does not, in any way, represent the view of the Church."