Francis effect: ‘Courageous priest’ retreats ‘into the longstanding Tradition of the Church’

By Dexter Duggan at The Wanderer:

A veteran clergyman described by an admirer as “the most courageous priest in our San Diego Diocese” warned at his pre-retirement party that although the priority of Christianity is saving souls, he was hearing more from prelates concerned about earthly matters than religious ones.

Fr. Richard Perozich, sometimes involved in news events reported in The Wanderer, gave a farewell talk in early June to about 30 members of Ecclesia Militans of San Diego, conservative lay Catholics for whom he served as spiritual adviser.

Perozich’s final assignment as pastor, ending at the close of June, is at Immaculate Conception Church in San Diego’s historic Old Town, near where St. Junipero Serra offered his first Mass in California in 1769. Perozich plans to move to the Hawaiian island of Maui, living, he said, “more as a hermit monk.”

According to his text provided by a listener to The Wanderer, Perozich told the Ecclesia Militans gathering, at the La Jolla home of one of its members:

“I hear new opinions substituting for truth. I hear studied ambiguities, carefully crafted statements which allow for multiple interpretations. I hear calls to change language of truth to a language that will not offend sinners. I hear sophistries, good-sounding arguments with just enough truth, but which are misleading.
“When those who are supposed to care for me are not doing so, in my opinion, I must retreat from them into the longstanding Tradition of the Church. I have to be vigilant about my own holiness in the Holy Spirit so as not to be drawn into their spirit of this age and be corrupted by it,” he said.

He criticized both the long-serving retired San Diego bishop, Robert Brom, and current Bishop Robert McElroy.

The Wanderer asked Kevin Eckery, the diocese’s vice chancellor for Communications and Public Affairs, if he or McElroy was aware of the critical comments or had a reaction to them.

Eckery promptly replied on June 9: “No reaction, Dexter. Wasn’t there.”

In its September 11, 2014, hardcopy issue, The Wanderer reported that prominent dissenter Fr. Timothy Radcliffe, OP, former master general of the Dominican order and a foe of traditional Church teaching on homosexuality, would be a major speaker at the San Diego Diocese’s annual convocation for its priests later that month. However, Perozich declined to attend that convocation. The California Catholic Daily website posted a story that July about Perozich’s refusal headlined, “Guess who might get in trouble? Guess who doesn’t really care.”

Local conservative Catholics said a speaking invitation to Radcliffe was extended by Fr. Michael Murphy, the pastor at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Coronado, a beautiful, wealthy residential community across San Diego Bay from downtown San Diego.

After Bishop Brom retired in 2013, he was succeeded by coadjutor Cirilo Flores, who didn’t even complete a year as bishop before dying of cancer in early September 2014. McElroy, previously an auxiliary bishop in San Francisco, was named by Pope Francis to succeed Flores and was installed in April 2015.

The December 15, 2016, hardcopy issue of The Wanderer reported that McElroy rebuked Perozich after the priest emphasized the non-negotiable moral issues in the November election for his parish voters. McElroy subsequently issued a statement saying there were other issues as well, including poverty and economic justice, the environment and immigration.

Perozich told his farewell gathering in La Jolla in early June:

“It can be a little more daunting when one is a priest and whose spiritual father and brothers seem to me to be moving away from clarity of truth to ambiguity, from the spiritual to the worldly, from holiness into sin. Recent sophistry: bishop wanting solar panels in every parish, gays and lesbians welcomed in every parish, their children in our Catholic schools.”

Allyson Smith, one of the Ecclesia Militans members present for the talk, told The Wanderer:

“Father spoke how we can no longer depend on major political, educational, and economic institutions, including the Church, to protect and enable us to practice our Catholic faith, and so therefore we must find a ‘Benedict Option’ that entails rebuilding our own societal structures and ‘intentional communities that more fully embody our Christian faith.’
“He detailed some of the problems with the Church at large, and within our local Diocese of San Diego, such as the trend toward acceptance of sexual immorality and opinions now being substituted for truth, that have led him to seek his own version of the Benedict Option in retirement, living as a hermit monk community of one,” Smith said, adding:
“Above all, he exhorted us to be holy, as Christ is holy; to continue daily Scripture reading, prayer, and reception of the sacraments.”

Currently in the diocese, Perozich told his listeners: “Priests who were ignored before because of their lifestyles are now on boards and giving talks and photographed with the bishop; others are promoted in the diocese. It has reached a level too great for me to tolerate, so I choose the Benedict Option for myself.”

He said some people believe the Benedict Option equates with disengaging and withdrawing. But, Perozich said, it’s “all about being active and engaging the problems of society. It recognizes, however, that solutions will begin locally, in the relationships that we can influence. Rebuilding will begin there. Do we really think that our political, educational, and economic institutions will provide a secure future for the practice of our Christian faith?”

Complaints Perozich listed against the San Diego Diocese included, “Vapid days of recollection and retreats for us priests” and “Public promotion of sodomy and adultery with Holy Communion.”

“My skills are pastoring, anointing, Confession, Mass, preaching, teaching,” he continued. “I can balance a budget, rebuild a failing parish, speak Spanish and be faithful to the Tradition of the Church. I cannot be faithful to the sophistries promoted by prelates. . . . “Other than be faithful myself, I am unable to influence my fellow clergy except for about ten priests here,” he said. “Most just go along, and if they are faithful, they are silent about it. I cannot be that way. . . . I have an intentional community of one, living apart more as a hermit monk.

“I support the Church financially, but not any diocese and certainly no parish who has drag-queen ministers, openly homosexual employees, giving Communion to adulterers, supporting community-organizing groups for $15 minimum wage, open immigration, inviting Muslim refugees but not our brother Christian ones who are being killed in the Middle East. I have other ways of giving money to the church and to faithful ministries,” he said.

“I cannot leave the Church even if its leaders deviate. It still is protected by the Holy Spirit from total destruction, but can still be damaged. Now, I do need to care for my own spiritual health and will do so intentionally in a way I find fulfilling,” Perozich said.


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12 Responses to Francis effect: ‘Courageous priest’ retreats ‘into the longstanding Tradition of the Church’

  1. Yes, a “most courageous” priest, especially when you read his reasons for doing this.


  2. Mary Salmond says:

    Wow, Fr. Perozich sounds like a very distressed priest. Perhaps his self exile to Hawaii will produce more vocations and send them to California! Glad he isn’t leaving the church, just the church in California.


  3. marysong says:

    Dear Father Perovich gives hope with his letter. He has endured all his soul could stand in that environment and I’m so glad to see he is moving on. The souls in Maui will be blessed by his presence. He probably won’t be able to remain a hermit for long there. God bless you good Father!


  4. toadspittle says:

    “Recent sophistry: bishop wanting solar panels in every parish, gays and lesbians welcomed in every parish, their children in our Catholic schools.”
    What’s sinful about solar panels?
    Why not welcome “sinners”?
    Why penalise the children?
    Why not accept them?


  5. connieann says:

    While I sympathize with him, I think his solution is the wrong one, and maybe (I don’t know him, so can’t really say) shows a lack of faith. He says he only can influence maybe 10 priests that he knows – but how does he know? Who knows what Christ can do through him. I don’t know him and I don’t know what his discernment process has been, but it sounds like the church in San Diego needs him. Prophets are often reluctant. Jonah tried to run. So did Peter. But my goodness, look what God did when they turned around and walked into the fire instead of away from it. God bless him and guide him, and may he be faithful to whatever the Lord is calling him to.


  6. Mary Salmond says:

    Well said. You never know.


  7. GC says:

    conniean, that makes at least two of us (you and me) not in the diocese of San Diego. But the several hundred who look in on CP&S each day probably aren’t either.

    I’m more than inclined to believe that the situation in San Diego could be absolutely dire. And the course adopted by Father may be yet as effective as that adopted by St Benedict, who also thought the situation was dire all those centuries ago, and under similar circumstances, I suggest.

    In fact, in my own poor little archdiocese here near the Equator it is becoming perceptibly more dire, very much as a result of the ‘Francis effect’ and Jesuits running the diocesan media.


  8. kathleen says:

    I wonder how many hundreds (perhaps thousands) of faithful Catholic priests are treading a similar painful ‘Via Crucis’ to Fr. Richard Perozich! I know some personally who admit to their friends and family their great difficulties in upholding the traditional teachings of Christ as the Church has always taught in today’s liberal/progressive infested parishes. It is doubly hard when diocesan priests are under a bishop of that same worldly mindset!

    Connieann – I agree with Mary and GC that you make a very good point. However tough, however seemingly fruitless and impossible the task might appear to be, it is still probably better to stick in there fighting to uphold the True Church than disappearing into anonymity. Yes, like Jonah, St Peter… and I would add St John Vianney (who tried to run away to a monastery several times)…. and even our Pope Benedict XVI !! Look at the disaster that has befallen the Church after Pope Benedict abdicated, presumably because he felt incapable of dealing with so many enormous responsibilities alone in a Modernist-infected Curia!
    (But you are right; we don’t know all the ‘discernment’ processes leading to any of these decisions.)

    Wherever courageous priest Fr Richard Perozich ends up, he will surely bring great blessings down upon his people.


  9. toadspittle says:

    “Courageous priest,” flounces off and buries his head in the Hawaii sand.

    “Benedict abdicated, presumably because he felt incapable of dealing with so many enormous responsibilities alone in a Modernist-infected Curia!”
    Did anyone presume that at the time? Or is it being presumed in retrospect?


  10. Mary Salmond says:

    Toadspittle, what funny sense of humor, the Dudley Moore YouTube.
    I suppose you are the opposite of this priest by continuing to plug away at all of us on CP&S and not leaving till you have the last word. You do leave a person pause with your probing thoughts and questions.
    Perhaps it is time this priest shake the dust from his feet and find more fertile ground for him. Tallyho!


  11. toadspittle says:

    “You (Toad) do leave a person pause with your probing thoughts and questions.”
    Thanks Mary.
    It is my life’s work.


  12. David O'Neill says:

    Would that more priests were so brave! Perhaps the answer might be to ask for a parish were conservative Catholics (of which I count myself one) might continue to worship God as, through the millenia, the Church taught. These new innovations are harmful. Don’t we think that in former days there were people who lived disastrous lives & yet the Church did not bend to accommodate them. Perhaps someone with a propensity to steal should be encouraged to continue stealing (a much lesser evil) in the same way that it appears that those with homosexual propensities are being (virtually) encouraged to continue in their sin.


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