Philadelphia, Pa., May 8, 2019 / 05:15 pm (CNA).- Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia called for broad participation in a pro-life rally this week, scheduled in response to a Penslyvania state representative’s livestreamed harassment of a woman praying outside of a Planned Parenthood clinic.
“These videos, which Representative Sims took himself, have rightly sparked broad outrage … His actions were unbecoming of an elected official,” Archbishop Chaput said in a statement released May 8.
“I’m calling on all people of good will to channel their indignation into right action and prayerful witness,” he said.
The archbishop invited prayerful participation in a rally May 10 at 11am outside of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Planned Parenthood, the same clinic at which state Rep. Brian Sims filmed himself aggressively questioning a woman praying the rosary across the street from a Planned Parenthood May 2.
In a series of livestreamed videos, Sims’ solicited viewers for the woman’s name and address and for the names and addresses of three teenagers praying at Planned Parenthood, saying in one video: “Let’s go protest out in front of her house and tell her what’s right for her body.”
“Who would have thought that an old white lady would be outside of a Planned Parenthood telling people what’s right for their bodies? Shame on you,” Sims said in the video.
Chaput said that there is “much bitter irony” in Sims’ claim to be a champion for the rights of all women while he “trampled on the rights of others and disgracefully shamed them in public.”
“Representative Sims spoke often of shame and there was plenty of that to be found in his actions, which demonstrated a complete disregard for civility and basic human decency,” Chaput said.
“It was particularly disdainful that he offered a bounty for the identity and home addresses of three young ladies in order to encourage protests at their homes.”
The practice of soliciting or publishing online an individual’s address and other personal details in order to elicit harassment is known as doxing. It is illegal in many jurisdictions.
Sims has represented District 182, a heavily-Democratic area of Philadelphia, in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives since 2013. Sims is an LGBT activist and was the first person to identify as gay elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.
In a video posted May 7, Sims said he had spent the last seven years volunteering as a Planned Parenthood patient escort. He tweeted earlier this month, “Planned Parenthood protesters are scum! I’ve spent years as a patient escort witnessing firsthand the hate, vitriol, hostility and BLATANT RACISM they spew. You can ‘pray for a baby at home.’ You sure as hell can feed a kid or clothe one instead. Old, fake, White, wrong!”
Sims have been the subject of an investigation by Pennsylvania’s State Ethics Commission, after questions were raised in 2017 regarding speaking fees he received while in office. He is accused of accepting honoraria, including fees and free travel and accommodation, in violation of policies governing state legislators.
“Let us meet the hateful actions of Representative Sims with the love of Christ and let us fervently pray for respect for life from conception to natural death,” Chaput said.
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