Powerful Catholic group seeks to censure state House Democrat for his ‘vicious anti-Catholicism’

By Ivey Dejesus
Patriot News
July 3, 2019

Anti-abortion protesters rally near a Planned Parenthood clinic in Philadelphia in May spurred by the actions of Rep. Brian Sims, who recorded himself berating an anti-abortion demonstrator at length outside the clinic.
Photo by Matt Rourke

Rep. Jerry Knowles, R-Schuylkill County, is seeking support from his House colleagues for having Rep. Brian Sims, D-Philadelphia, censured for his verbal attacks on anti-abortion rights protesters earlier this spring.

A powerful Catholic lobbying group is ratcheting up the condemnation against a House Democrat “for his bullying and his vicious anti-Catholicism.”

The Catholic League is asking the Pennsylvania House of Representatives to support a measure that would censure Rep. Brian Sims, the Philadelphia Democrat who earlier this spring was involved in incidents outside a Planned Parenthood clinic where he serves as an escort.

In a written statement, the Catholic League said it seeks to censure Sims “for his threats, his misogyny, and his religious bigotry.”

“This man is not fit to be a dog catcher, never mind a sitting member of the Pennsylvania legislature. What more does it take to censure him?” the organization’s statement reads.

The latest call from the group represents the second effort on its part to penalize the lawmaker.

The issue stems out of two incidents that happened in May outside a Planned Parenthood clinic in Philadelphia. During one encounter, Sims called a protester “an old white lady” and during another, he harassed Ashley Garecht of Lower Merion Township, Montgomery County, and offered to give $100 to Planned Parenthood if someone could identify the three teen-age girls who accompanied her. The incidents are posted on anti-abortion rights website Life Site.

Garecht in June met with lawmakers at the Capitol, urging them to support the measure introduced by Rep. Jerry Knowles, R-Schuylkill County, calling on the House leadership to remove Sims from his four committee assignments and bar him from any committees or positions through the remainder of his term. His term expires Nov. 30, 2020.

The Catholic League calls the lawmaker’s actions “outrageous,” and faults Sims with bullying an elderly Catholic woman who was praying the rosary outside the clinic.

“For eight uninterrupted minutes, Sims badgered her, telling her to go pray at home,” the Catholic League said in its statement. “When she asked him to stop, he followed her around and threatened to make her home address public so that others could harass her.”

The Catholic organization is backing the resolution introduced by Knowles. The resolution sits in the House Rules Committee awaiting action. The House is on recess.

PennLive reached out to Sims at his Philadelphia office but could not immediately reach him. This report will be updated with his comment, if he responds. He has not previously responded to requests from PennLive for comment regarding this matter. In May, Sims tweeted acknowledgement that he was aggressive toward the protesters and pledged to do better for the women of Pennsylvania.

The Catholic League further chastised Sims for what it called “protracted anti-Catholic” rants directed at anti-abortion protesters.

“To this day, Sims refuses to apologize for any of his behavior,” the organization wrote. "He makes threats and puts innocent persons in danger. Moreover, he always chooses either young females or elderly ladies to bully. To make matters worse, he singles out Catholics, making the most bigoted remarks about their religion.

“This is not simply a Pennsylvania issue — it is a national issue.”

The New-York-based organization is widely regarded as a powerful and ultra-conservative Catholic lobbying force that has historically opposed efforts to reform child sex crimes laws while protecting the identities of predator priests and their bishops.



Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.