QUEENS — A Catholic priest who oversees a Richmond Hill parish triggered outrage among his parishioners after sharing a post on his Facebook page encouraging anti-Trump protesters to commit suicide.
The meme shared by Rev. Philip Pizzo of St. Benedict Joseph Labre Roman Catholic Church, located on 118th Street near Atlantic Avenue, depicted a man plummeting from a skyscraper with the words “Show your hate for Trump. Do it for social justice. #JumpAgainstTrump,” the New York Post first reported.
The meme, which was posted last Sunday following massive anti-Trump protests, has been since removed, along with other posts from the priest's personal Facebook page.
Pizzo also previously posted a photo of President Barack Obama with the words: “He’s not my president” and a picture of Hillary Clinton titled “Ugly Face” in Italian with the caption “Happy Halloween," according to the Post.
He told the paper on Monday that he thought the meme was “funny.”
“I do not promote suicide," he said. “I’ve helped many people over the years, and it does not promote suicide. It was funny.”
Pizzo did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment Tuesday morning, but he issued an apology later that day.
“I apologize for the hurt that I have caused over a Facebook post," he said in a statement. "I never intended it to get this kind of reaction and I regret posting it. I have been a priest for 40 years and my goal has always been to bring Christ to the people. I am prolife and any reference to suicide is contrary to my beliefs, therefore, making my post completely inappropriate. Again, please accept my sincerest apology.”
The Diocese of Brooklyn reiterated that Pizzo shared the meme on his personal Facebook page.
"He says he intended it as satire only, regrets the offense it has caused, and has deleted it," the diocese said in a statement. "This post does not, in any way, represent the view of the church."
The meme caused uproar among his parishioners and beyond, with many taking to Twitter to express their outrage.