The following comes from a November 5 Church Militant article:

Father Richard Perozich of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in San Diego, California has suffered backlash over two recent parish bulletins advising Catholics how to vote in good conscience.

The reaction was immediate, with multiple media sources criticizing Fr. Perozich, while his own diocese refused to support him. His bishop, Robert McElroy, went so far as to make a speech over the weekend claiming that clergy should refrain from telling Catholics how to vote, either directly or indirectly. [Editor’s note: on November 4, Bishop McElroy also issued a statement  “concerning the distribution of political material at Catholic Parishes,” criticizing the Immaculate Conception Parish.]

Father Perozich spoke with to offer a response.

CM: Were you surprised by the backlash to the Oct. 16 flier?

FRP: After backlash began and multiplied, I knew it would continue for several reasons. 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.

CM: Have you been disappointed in some of the clergy’s silence and passiveness during this critical election?

FRP: You don’t rise to authority in an institution unless you follow the lead of those already there. More than disappointment, I confess that this is what I expect. Catholic clergy are institutionalized — paid salaries, paid retirement, paid housing, paid cable, paid cell phone, paid car or car insurance and sometimes gasoline, paid utilities, paid internet. It would be unusual for someone to want to have that taken away.

We don’t live the lives of our parishioners unless we have been in struggling places with struggling people. Some of us are more in touch than are others. The farther away you move from the common and the poor in power, possessions and prestige, the farther away you move from reality. It is easy to insist that the common and the poor get everything that we have, as long as we don’t have to pay for it.

I believe that every 501(c)3 that promotes a government program that costs the government money and its citizens taxes should be taxed for a portion of what they are demanding from the state.

CM: What final advice would you give Catholics on voting in the few days before Election Day?

FRP: Prioritize the issues — life from conception to natural death, God-given sexuality and marriage between man and woman, embryonic stem cell research, cloning, euthanasia — way above all other things. Then a citizen has a right to vote for more taxes for all sorts of programs if he or she wishes by putting into place those seeking election who meet these first five criteria.