The pastoral associate of a San Diego parish in the heart of the city’s well-known gay-friendly Hillcrest neighborhood has submitted his resignation “out of fear for my family and myself.”

In an Oct. 19 email to friends and associates, Aaron Bianco, who submitted his resignation to Bishop Robert McElroy, said he had “endured physical and emotional violence from groups like Church Militant and LifeSite News for the past year and a half.” The harassment included slashed tires, death threats, attacks outside Mass, and “hundreds of letters, phone calls and emails.”

The harassment increased “to another level” overnight Oct. 14-15, he added, when assailants “broke into the office/rectory” of St. John the Evangelist Parish “and spray-painted ‘no fags’ on the conference room wall.”

The “final straw,” he said, was an Oct. 17 internet posting of “pictures my family, including a photo of my deceased mother” and revealing “where I live.”

Headlined “Bp. McElroy Defends Diocesan Employee in Same-Sex ‘Marriage,’ ” a Lepanto Institute-generated narrative was posted Oct. 17 on its website and also carried online by LifeSiteNews.

The account focused largely on “Bianco’s pro-homosexual activism,” Bianco’s “sodomitical ‘marriage,’ ” and McElroy’s support for Bianco and LGBT ministry.

McElroy and Bianco have been the target of a previous LifeSiteNews article.

Both the FBI and the San Diego Police Department are investigating the St. John the Evangelist break-in.

In an Oct. 17 media statement about “the vandalism at the parish St. John the Evangelist in Hillcrest and the social media attacks against one of its staff members,” McElroy condemned the vandalism as “vile and reprehensible” and pledged “solidarity with the staff and community of St. John’s Parish at this moment.”

“The hatred that lies behind them constitutes a dark and vicious corner in the life of our Church that every member of the Catholic community must reject,” he stated.

Bianco’s email reported he had submitted his resignation during an Oct. 18 meeting with McElroy.

“He has always stood behind me 100%,” he added. “I am always thankful for his steadfastness to keeping the LGBT Ministry going at St. John’s, even though he also has been disparaged by these hate groups.”

Bianco emailed that he plans to address the parish community this Sunday at the 6 p.m. Mass, his only planned public appearance before his resignation takes effect Oct. 31.

Writing that he “will not back down from confronting such evil in our Church,” Bianco said he intends “to work on a larger scale to make sure groups like this do not make their way into the lives of everyday Catholics.”

Meanwhile, the San Diego Diocese has been in the midst of eight “listening sessions” with McElroy about the church sexual abuse crisis, the sessions staged across the see of 1.3 million Catholics that runs the length of California’s border with Mexico.

According to multiple sources, questions about a homosexual man in a same-sex marriage being a primary administrator at a diocesan parish were raised at all the gatherings.

At the seventh session on Oct. 18 at St. Gabriel Parish in Poway, McElroy received a scattering of boos when he said, “If the church eliminated all the employees who are not living out the teachings of the church in its fullness, we would be employing only angels.”

More than 300 attended the Poway session, packing the parish hall. Each of the meetings has drawn overflow crowds.

At nearly every meeting, security personnel have had to escort someone from the room for disruptive behavior.

At Poway, a man was forcibly removed after he stood and began shouting questions at McElroy. Crowd noise drowned the questions.

Full story at National Catholic Reporter.