The Diocese of Rockville Centre had to know the calls were coming, after Bishop William Murphy's letter was read in Sunday Masses.
"Support of abortion by a candidate for public office, some of whom are Catholics, even if they use the fallacious and deeply offensive 'personally opposed but …' line, is reason sufficient unto itself to disqualify any and every such candidate from receiving our vote," the bishop advised Catholics in Long Island and other communities east of New York City.
Murphy added, "Let me repeat that," and did so -- word for word.
The bishop also said he believes America is "heading in the wrong direction" -- especially on religious freedom -- and asked each believer to "examine your conscience" before voting.
A diocesan spokesman stressed that Murphy was "absolutely not" signaling support for Donald Trump for president.
This unusual Rockville Centre salvo was news, in part, because U.S. Catholic leaders have been surprisingly quiet in 2106 -- even with Sen. Tim Kaine, a Catholic progressive, in the vice-president slot for the Democrats. Some Catholic leaders have even received flak, from left and right, for noting that both major-party nominees have disturbing track records on matters of character and honesty.
Meanwhile, many Catholic voters will remember an earlier war of words between Trump and Pope Francis on immigration, with the pope noting that "a person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not in the Gospel."
All of this matters, of course, because it's almost impossible for Republicans to take the White House without winning the "Catholic vote" in Ohio, Pennsylvania and other swing states.
Meanwhile, a recent Public Religion Research Institute poll showed white Catholics were evenly split (44 percent each way) between Trump and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. Hispanic Catholics (84 percent) strongly backed Clinton.
Gender numbers were even more interesting, with 49 percent of white Catholic women supporting Clinton, while 58 percent of white Catholic men back Trump. Another 13 percent of white Catholic men were undecided, or refused to answer, along with 9 percent of white Catholic women.
That's a lot of undecided voters, especially if many of them are in strategic blue-collar communities, noted ETWN's Raymond Arroyo, the Catholic network's managing editor for news. While much has been said this year about angry white males hurt by global economic trends, the experts often fail to note that lots of them are "from typical labor-union Catholic backgrounds, either Polish, Italian, German or whatever," he said.
"Catholics are considered bellwether voters, but I think that's true because they're actually quite secular and they go where the country goes," said Arroyo, reached by telephone.
"Catholics don't vote because of any one issue. It's a matter of feeling and fit. … I'm hearing from lots of people who are still looking at Trump and trying to figure out who he is as a person. They've heard all the locker-room stuff. But many of these working-class Catholics don't mind that he's a guy who has been around and messed up -- like they have. … They're mad and they're looking for a fighter."
In a recent EWTN interview, Arroyo asked Trump hard questions about issues of honesty, character and morality, and received familiar, evasive Trump answers.
The GOP nominee, as expected, jumped on WikiLeaks emails that appeared to show Clinton staffers -- including campaign chair John Podesta -- discussing their clashes with traditional Catholics and the need for a "Catholic Spring" to force changes in Catholic doctrine, thus ending a "middle ages dictatorship."
The New York billionaire said his favorite saints are Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II, the latter because of he "had a special something. … There was a toughness, but there was a warmth that was incredible." Trump declined to discuss his prayer life, saying that subject is "between me and God."
What now? Arroyo offered this Election Day advice: Watch Catholic men in the Rust Belt.
"Lots of working-class Catholics aren't sure if they're Republicans or Democrats these days," he said. "They keep swinging back and forth. ... What I hear them saying is: 'I'll go in that voting booth and make a choice, but I'm not talking about it. I'll go behind that curtain and do what I have to do.' "