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San Diego priest speaks out as bishop accuses him of ‘fanning the flames of hatred’

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SAN DIEGO, California, November 8, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – The pastor who came under fire after pro-life, anti-Democrat fliers were placed inside his church's weekly bulletin has spoken out about the ordeal. His bishop has doubled down on criticism of the parish after the pastor penned a column of his own about Catholic voting.

Some of the opinions in the column led San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy to say, "it is contrary to the Catholic faith" to view gun control regulation as a form of slavery. 

Much of Father Richard Perozich's column affirmed the Catholic Church's teaching on intrinsic evils, while in other parts he took strong stands on matters of prudential judgment within Catholic teaching. Perozich, the pastor of Immaculate Conception Church, told Church Militant that he is not backing down from urging Catholics to oppose intrinsic evils like abortion, homosexual acts, and human cloning. 

A copy of a draft of the alleged flier is available from a local media site here.

The fliers, which Fr. Perozich says he did not authorize, generated national news coverage because of a controversial quote stating that it is a "mortal sin" to vote for a Democrat. The fliers pointed out the Democratic Party’s official support for such intrinsic evils and warned Catholics they put their souls at risk by voting for Democrats. The story was even mentioned in a Saturday Night Live skit.

The Diocese of San Diego also told media that the fliers weren't from the pastor. A lay group called Ecclesia Militans has taken credit for the fliers, saying they were made to counter the “vote-Democratic” position of a Catholic priest “in the north part of town.”

The Diocese publicly distanced itself from Immaculate Conception and decried the voter guide, as LifeSiteNews previously reported.

And the Diocese went one step further by issuing a statement decrying some of the points made in a column in Immaculate Conception's October 30 bulletin.

The column, in part, said:

Among the slavery imposed upon us is killing the unborn child in the womb, abortion, even with monies from our taxes. Another is the threat of punishment for rejecting homosexuality in all its forms: in its teaching in the schools, in ‘so called same sex marriage’ with fines resulting in loss in business, income, and employment. A third enslavement is using embryos which have a soul as experiments. A fourth is cloning wherein now scientists are experimenting with human and animal DNA to create hybrid creatures. A fifth is euthanasia, the direct killing of human beings either with or without their consent. A sixth is the silencing of the Christian to express his faith in public, wherein our churches are complicit for fear of losing their tax exempt status. s. A seventh is the importation of immigrants whose religious values are to eradicate every belief except those of their own prophet and god, and to impose this on America. An eighth slavery is the government cave in to allow anyone to come into the country, and to support them monetarily, in part adding to a debt of $20 trillion, while paying Americans to sit home and not work, thus enslaving the soul of our own citizenry in depriving them of real work which sustains the immortal soul of a man and a woman. A ninth is playing policeman for the world, sending military might to try to control people who do not wish our presence in their affairs. A tenth is regulating the right to bear arms for free citizens in a nation where criminals and terrorists will always have weapons, and where government is now in opposition to the citizenry. And there are others wherein we are called to be as clever as serpents, yet guileless as doves.

The Catholic Church teaches that Catholics may disagree in matters of prudence on social problems like poverty, immigration, and taxes; many Catholic priests and bishops regularly express their support for liberal approaches to such issues.

Nevertheless, Bishop McElroy issued a public statement declaring

Catholic teaching points to the importance of several major issues in this presidential election year: abortion, poverty and economic justice, the environment, euthanasia, immigration, religious liberty, and solidarity within society.  This final issue of solidarity has a particular importance at this moment because the very democratic impulse which is the foundation for our national unity is being eroded by partisan venom and personal attack.

In this environment, it is vital that all institutions in our nation participate in discussions about the election with civility and balance.  It is particularly vital that religious communities do so.

This duty has been violated by one of our parishes, and thus it is essential to make clear:

It is contrary to Catholic teaching to state that voting for a Democrat or Republican automatically condemns the voter to hell;
It is contrary to Catholic faith to state that gun control legislation is a form of slavery;
It is contrary to Catholic faith to fan the flames of hatred against Muslims or any religious group.

'No one likes to be told' that they 'have done something evil'

"After backlash began and multiplied, I knew it would continue for several reasons," Perozich told Church Militant. "First of all, no one likes to be told they are less than anyone else, have done something evil, and are going to Hell. I did not endorse that comment for a flier in our bulletin, and it was not put there by our parishioners. The five non-negotiables [support for abortion, same-sex 'marriage,; euthanasia, human cloning, and embryonic stem cell research] are true."

"The backlash began because of an article written by a local reporter for our paper who did not get in touch with me to ask any questions, but extrapolated what he wished and constructed his piece," he said. "I found many people who are poorly formed as Catholics, many ex-Catholics and those who used the argument of no political comment by churches. I need a contortionist to teach me to twist my body to do the unseemly things they suggested I should do."

Perozich said he wrote the October 30 column because "I wanted to show Catholics how they have been undermined by desensitization, jamming and conversion to secular ideas and what the outcome that is hoped for by some who wish to govern us. I wanted to show them that they cannot always trust any leader even in the church, even me, but should know their faith from the Bible and Tradition, not relying on anyone speaking to them. I wanted to show how they are soldiers for Christ, working for Him as members of the Family of God to bring His values to the world."

He said he has received "many, many positive responses" to the column, which was intended for parishioners "because our bulletin is for our parishioners and visitors."

"I do not tell people to vote for this candidate or that one, but point out what the Catholic values are and how some of us need conversion to these if we are voting or if we are asking for a vote," he reiterated. 

LifeSiteNews reached out to Perozich, but did not hear back by press time. His full interview with Church Militant is here.

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