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Catholic Priest Slammed with Half-Year Prison Sentence for Abortion Clinic Protest

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NEW YORK, USA – Father Fidelis Moscinski, a Catholic priest and member of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, has been sentenced to six months in federal prison for blocking access to a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Hempstead, New York.

According to a Catholic News Agency report of Thursday, June 29, 2023, the sentencing was delivered by Judge Steven Tiscione, who handed down the maximum sentence available for this particular crime.

Father Moscinski, 52, was found guilty of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act. This federal law imposes penalties on individuals who obstruct access to abortion facilities or pregnancy centers.

On July 7, 2022, Father Moscinski placed locks and chains on the gated entrance of the Planned Parenthood of Greater New York clinic, effectively shutting it down for approximately two hours.

According to the Department of Justice, he also covered some locks with glue. After the police and fire departments cut through the locks, Father Moscinski laid down in front of the entrance to prevent vehicles from entering.

Catholic Priest
Father Fidelis Moscinski and two other anti-abortion activists were each sentenced to three months behind bars in August 2022 after being convicted of misdemeanor criminal trespassing. |
REUTERS

In court, Father Moscinski defended his actions by stating that he was acting out of moral obligation to prevent killing innocent lives.

According to the remarks provided by the pro-life organisation Red Rose Rescue, he told the judge, “My actions … were done because Planned Parenthood as an organization is in the business of killing.”

He further stated that his actions aimed to prevent the murder of defenseless children.

“This pseudo-law seeks to cloak the act of killing preborn children under the euphemistic and Orwellian language of ‘reproductive health care,’” Moscinski told the court.

“I am not guilty of violating this law because this law cannot be seen as anything other than null and void since it attempts to give legal protection to actions which are intrinsically evil and unjust.”

Although Father Moscinski is a member of Red Rose Rescue, the organisation clarified that they did not sanction his actions.

The group explained that members are free to engage in pro-life activism outside the organization but act as independent agents when doing so.

Furthermore, Father Moscinski criticized the FACE Act, referring to it as a “pseudo-law” that seeks to cloak the act of killing pre-born children under the language of reproductive health care.

Father Fidelis Moscinski , Catholic Priest
Father Fidelis Moscinski (lower left, standing behind the cross), a well-known pro-life activist and priest of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal (CFR) is seen during a tense standoff between pro-life and pro-abortion demonstrators in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022. The pro-life marchers were trying to reach a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic where they planned to hold a prayer vigil, and the pro-abortion demonstrators were trying to block their path. | Jeffrey Bruno/CNA

The catholic priest asked Judge Tiscione for leniency in sentencing.

However, citing Father Moscinski’s history of arrests for pro-life activism, Judge Tiscione handed down the maximum sentence of six months.

Father Moscinski has been arrested for his pro-life activism in the past, but this marks the first time he has been found guilty of violating the FACE Act.

In 2022, he was arrested for trespassing in an abortion clinic after refusing to leave when ordered by staff and police.

Additionally, New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit against Red Rose Rescue earlier this month, seeking to bar the catholic priest and other members from coming within 30 feet of an abortion clinic.

While Moscinski’s violation of the FACE Act was not under the banner of Red Rose Rescue, the incident was cited as part of the justification for the lawsuit.

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