The following comes from a November 5 Times of San Diego article by Chris Stone:
A controversial church handout in Old Town claiming it’s a mortal sin to vote for a Democrat was a response to a report that another pastor urged his flock to back Democrats.
That genesis was described Saturday outside the church by Larry Greenbank, a member of Ecclesia Militans, which he called a “loose collaborative group of faithful and informed Catholics.”
Greenbank said that group of conservative lay people felt it was their obligation to counteract the “vote-Democratic” stance of an unspecified Roman Catholic pastor “in the north part of town.”
The flier, distributed Oct. 16 in the bulletin of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church led by the Rev. Richard Perozich, drew an outside protest in front of the Old Town church before Saturday evening Mass.
The flier was followed by a political message in the Oct. 30 bulletin from Perozich on voting as a Catholic — implying Satan’s influence on Hillary Clinton. The story, first appearing Nov. 2 in The San Diego Union-Tribune, went viral worldwide.
But the flier was distributed not only at the Old Town church, but also at several “select churches” in the diocese, Greenbank said.
In an email Sunday to Times of San Diego, Perozich said Ecclesia Militans was responsible for the flier inserted into his bulletin. Times obtained an earlier version of the flier — two pages instead of one and with two colors rather than one.
Perozich confirmed that he wrote the article in the Oct. 30 bulletin, adding: “Our parish is pleased with the bulletin teaching. I am a pastor for this parish and will continue to lead it.”
Responding last week to the flier incident, San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy said in a statement: “As a matter of policy and practice, the Catholic Church does not endorse specific candidates, use parish media or bulletins to favor candidates or parties or engage in partisan political activity of any kind. … It is contrary to Catholic teaching to state that voting for a Democrat or Republican automatically condemns the voter to hell.”
Pastor Perozich, insisting that his parish wasn’t responsible for the flier, told Times of San Diego after Mass: “Those things weren’t written by anyone here. We don’t say that. Someone else put that in (the church bulletin) and we didn’t authorize it.” (On Sunday, Perozich said he was informed of the source of the flier after Saturday’s Mass.)
“We don’t condemn people to hell,” Perozich said. “We tell people that these (issues such as abortion and homosexuality) are the important things to vote for because these are undermining us.”
Greenbank of the group that distributed the flier said: “Father didn’t have anything to do with the flier. No one in the parish had anything to do with the flier. We have [also] distributed that flier in a parish on the north side of town.”
“I know who created it,” he said outside the church Saturday night. “It was a collaborative effort by concerned Catholics — Catholics who are well-trained. They know the teachings of the church.”
Greenbank continued: “Lay Catholics have a very important role in the political arena. We can speak freely, whereas the pastors cannot. Especially when we are in an election cycle, we have not only an essential role but also a responsibility to teach the truth.”