A Floral Park priest got hot under the collar after a photograph of him with Swaranjit Singh, a candidate for the City Council, appeared in Singh’s campaign literature.
Singh, who is running for the seat currently held by Councilman David Weprin (D-Hollis), used a photo with him, state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) and Monsignor Raymond Chapetto, pastor at Our Lady of the Snows Church, in a recent campaign mailing.
In the photo, taken at a non-political community meeting Singh helped organize to bring together South Asians and whites in the Council district, Chapetto is talking to Singh, but his priest’s collar is hard to see. Padavan is in the background of the shot, but clearly visible.
A parishioner asked Chapetto in the church’s newsletter if the photo in the mailing meant the priest was endorsing Singh.
“Absolutely not!” Chapetto responded. “I too received the same card in the mail. I was quite upset to see it for several reasons.”
“The picture has been misused to give the impression that I am publicly supporting a particular candidate for the City Council’s election. That is not possible for me to do,” the priest said.
The Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens forbids clergy from making political endorsements.
Chapetto could not be reached for comment.
Singh said the photo was not meant to imply he had Chapetto’s endorsement.
“It was not meant that way,” he said. “I have used so many pictures of different people, I had no idea what I was doing.”
Singh said he met with Chapetto for 20 minutes and smoothed the situation over.
“I promised him that I will take an ad in the newspaper and make a statement that I didn’t use [the photo] with his permission,” he said.
Chapetto said he called Padavan “and asked his advice on counsel on this matter.”
“There are legal consequences and I am trying to get the proper advice before any actions are taken,” he said.
Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz
©2009 Community News Group
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