Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Priest Threatens Pro-Life Activists With Arrest

I sure hope there's something not fully reported in this story but it wouldn't surprise me too much. If there's even an inkling of truth in it, shame on you Father Tottle.

ST PETERSBURG, Florida, Jan. 20 /Standard Newswire/ -- "Today's events confirm to me why abortion continues in America: Thousands of Pastors and Priests not only fail in their duty to protect innocent children from abortion, but they rebuke and discourage young us when we try to live out our faith." -- Joseph Landry, Age 26 (Graduate of Franciscan University of Stuebenville)

At St. Jude's Cathedral in St. Petersburg Florida at approximately 11:30 A.M. this Sunday morning (1/20/08) 3 pro-life Catholic interns were peacefully putting pro-life voting material on car windshields of parishioners (names: Joseph Landry, Francisco Gonzalez, and Steve Pokorny) This is completely legal, and happens across the nation at churches during election cycles.

The practice only becomes a problem when an authorized person from the church demands that the leafleting cease, and orders the leafleters to leave the parking lot.

A Priest from the Cathedral, Father Gregg Tottle, Rector, summoned the police, and between Masses came out with the Police present to demand that his fellow Catholics cease distributing the pro-life fliers. He threatened to have them arrested if they continued. Fr. Tottle told Mr. Landry that he knew they were distributing pro-life material. This makes his actions all the more deplorable.


Tiber Jumper said...

Without all the facts , the story makes the rector out to be a pro-abort non-orthodox priest.
There may be another aspect to the pastor's actions. Let me share my story here. When, I first returned to the Church, I asked my pastor if I could put out the Catholic Voter's guide in the narthex for parishioners to pick up. He said no, he doesn't allow that. Initially I was upset but came to realize, that he doesn't allow for any literature distribution period. He doesn't allow "liberal" material to be distributed either. We don't have new age literature, centering prayer guides or any such thing in our narthex area. (It's pretty sterile if you ask me, but "safe" which is what he wants and quite honestly, something I have come to appreciate about him.)
One Sunday before the 2004 election, a Catholic guy was distributing literature and wearing a sandwich board .When I looked to see what it was, he was a pro-Kerry Catholic telling Catholics how they should vote. I informed the assistant pastor who quickly ran out and told the man to cease or he would call the police.
So, did these pro life folks in this article from Florida have permission first to do this? Perhaps the Pastor has a policy that protects his parishioners from
any leaflet dropping? Good or bad, I think this article boarders on detraction depicting the Pastor as someone who is not pro-life. Maybe he isn't but there's not enuff info as you say to make that kind of judgment and it ends up giving the Church a black eye. This time from its own members , ouch!

Tim A. Troutman said...

Well you have a point. Still, if the priests were doing their job from the pulpit, leaflets wouldn't be needed.

Tiber Jumper said...

true and true

Anonymous said...

From Fr. Gregg Tottle

Which of you would allow your neighbors to intrude upon your activities simply because they share your pro-life beliefs? There are many who share our belief in Christ but ridicule our Catholic way of life. Should we allow their materials too?

From time to time all kinds of groups leave pamphlets on the windshields of our parishioners' cars or in our pamphlet racks. They range from advertisements to anti-Catholic tracts. We ask all of them to stop and normally they do.

This group was distributing voter-educational pamphlets which alarmed people because they appeared racist at first glance. As always, we aked them to stop and on Saturday Evening they agreed. However, the returned in the morning and continued to do what they promised not to. We called the police who informed them they by law could picket on the sidewalk but at our request could not come onto the property or distribute materials. Again they agreed but came back at subsequent Masses. Finally in the evening, they came back again distributing pamphlets on cars and the police were called. They provoked the police by stepping back into the property after being warned all the while calling our sacristan un-Christian and Not pro-life. The police finally arrested them. I was not hear and found out about the arrests the next day.

The next day they posed in front of the Cathedral for the local newspapers making themselves out to be martyrs.

The facts are:

1) Under the guidelines set forth by the Florida Catholic Conference, we do not let anyone distribute unapproved materials in the parish.

2) Their were approved pro-life and anti- abortion pamphlets in our pamphlets racks at the same time.

3) Our youth Group regularly and legally protest abortion by praying the rosary a a nearby abortion clinic.

4) We regularly support the local prenancy centers who encourage options other than abortion and assist unwed mothers.

5) Our youth group was at the March For Life in Washington DC that weekend.

6)I have never wavered in my pro-life beliefs and I am a fourth degree Knight of Columbus whose two main goals are to support vocations and pro-life activities.

7)We included prayers for the reversal of Roe Verses Wade at all our Masses that weekend.

I can only conclude by what followed that these individuals wanted some media attention at the expense of our Church. It has apparently gotten the sympathy of their supporters around the world who have written to us. Perhaps it has boosted their contributions. In my opinion it was shameful behavior using inflamatory material. And it cannot help the Pro-life cause when one pro-life group is aggressive torwards another and then paints themselves as the victim to further there own individual agenda.

Fr. Gregg Tottle

Tim A. Troutman said...

Thank you for clearing this up father (or whoever posted in his name). I retract my ill-advised words. I'll be more careful next time before re-posting something like this.