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Catholic Church Expels Planned Parenthood Leader

January 23, 1986|United Press International

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The executive director of Planned Parenthood in Rhode Island, who was excommunicated for supporting abortion, vowed Wednesday to fight for the "right of reproductive freedom" for all Catholics.

Mary Ann Sorrentino, who has held the Planned Parenthood post for nine years, criticized the Roman Catholic Church and the Diocese of Providence for "persecuting me for my personal beliefs."

"I don't see that I represent anything that Ted Kennedy hasn't represented, that Geraldine Ferraro hasn't represented along with a lot of other prominent people," Sorrentino told a news conference.

Word of Sorrentino's excommunication surfaced Wednesday, the 13th anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision legalizing abortion.

The diocese notified Sorrentino of her excommunication by mail last summer, but the action did not become public until a Providence clergyman mentioned it on a cable television program about abortion.

Sorrentino, a member of St. Augustine's parish in Providence, said hundreds of Catholics throughout New England have contacted her in support.

"I will always be a Catholic in my heart," she said. "I can sit in my living room and talk to God."

The excommunication, which has been affirmed by Archbishop Pio Laghi, the Vatican's ambassador in Washington, prohibits Sorrentino from receiving Communion or any other sacraments.

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