A Sunday bulletin distributed in English and Spanish at Immaculate Conception Catholic parish in San Diego claimed that a vote for Democrats this year will incur spiritual death for Catholic voters. The memo, which was part of the bulletin and not an insert, was entitled “How to vote like a Catholic.” The October 30th bulletin had a flyer stuffed in it that asserted: “It is a mortal sin to vote Democrat.” It cited the Catechism of the Catholic Church which is clear about the ultimate destination of unrepentant sinners:
“1035 The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, “eternal fire.”
The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs.”
The flyer was not authorized by the parish pastor, but was somehow inserted into it. Several weeks before, parish pastor Rev. Richard Perozich said in a sermon: “In the church, we have what we call the five non-negotiables, things that are most important, and they’re around life issues. There’s life, from conception to natural death. There’s marriage and sexuality, embryonic stem cell research, cloning and euthanasia. When we vote, we don’t vote for candidates who support these things, even if they support other things that we really like.”
Among the moral issues raised by the bulletin, which are non-negotiably evil according to Catholic moral teachings, but simultaneously the subject of political debate, were: abortion, embryonic stem-cell research (and by extension, in vitro fertilization), euthanasia, human cloning and same-sex marriage.
An article published in the October 30th bulletin specifically mentioned Democrat Hillary Clinton, who has been generously supported by Planned Parenthood and other groups advocating abortion and artificial contraception, and linked her to famed leftist Saul Alinsky, the author of “Rules for Radicals” and the founder of the community organizing movement that has pushed for leftist causes for decades and infiltrated churches and synagogues nationwide.
The memo described Alinsky as a tool of “Satan” and “the devil.” Alinsky dedicated “Rules for Radicals” to Satan, paying tribute to the Dark Angel as the original rebel. While studying at Wellesley College, Clinton wrote a thesis on the work of Alinsky, who worked in her hometown, Chicago.
The article in the October 30th bulletin stated, “The devil does this through tactics outlined by Saul Alinsky with the outcome as Hillary Clinton stated ‘And deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed,’ to draw us away from God’s teachings regarding the sanctity of life to those of the world and its prince.”
The article on page 3 of the bulletin was referring to a speech that Clinton made at the Women in the World Summit when she spoke about cultural barriers that prevent girls from attending school or receiving contraception and abortion services. Dr. Ben Carson -- a Trump ally -- has criticized Clinton’s professed admiration of Alinsky, while warning against the infiltration of progressivism and leftist ideology in faith-affiliated groups by individuals and groups inspired by Alinsky’s message.
Other issues raised by the October 30 church bulletin was the assertion that Democrats seek to allow the admission into the United States immigrants whose “religious values are to eradicate every belief except those of their own prophet and god,” and giving those immigrants welfare even while the national debt grows. Other issues the memo raised was the role the U.S. in “playing policeman for the world” and Democrats’ support for gun control.
According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, a spokesman for the Catholic diocese of San Diego said that the pastor of Immaculate Conception parish did not approve the memo before publication. The paper said that spokesman Kevin Eckery said that the messages in the flier were wrong, adding that it is not “a mortal sin to vote for Democrats.”
On the diocesan website, Bishop Robert McElroy stated:
“It is sometimes said that this tradition of neutrality in partisan elections springs from the tax status of the Church, or from a desire to avoid divisiveness within Catholic communities. But in reality its foundation is far deeper. “It is a core teaching of Catholic ecclesiology that the sanctification of the world falls primarily to lay women and men. And it is a core teaching of Catholic moral theology that it is deeply within the conscience of the individual believer that key moral decisions must be made. The foundational assertion of democracy is that the average citizen is best equipped to guide society through electoral choice. The corollary within Catholic teaching which supports the democratic impulse is the proposition that in discerning which candidate will best advance the common good, the prudential decision of each citizen remains paramount. Thus while bishops must teach on principles of moral judgment, and outline key elements of the common good which are at stake in a particular historical moment, they should refrain from favoring particular candidates.”
Last week, Donald Trump was interviewed by EWTN news host Raymond Arroyo and called on Catholics to vote for him. "If any Catholic votes for Hillary Clinton, I would say if I were a Catholic, I wouldn't be talking to them anymore," he said.
Bishop McElroy said the church must remain above partisan politics. “Let me stress again that while we have a moral role to play in explaining how Catholic teaching relates to certain public policy issues, we must not and will not endorse specific candidates, use parish media or bulletins to favor candidates or parties through veiled language about selectively chosen issues, or engage in partisan political activity of any kind.”
The Catholic Church, as is true with all religious institutions are tax-exempt and ostensibly forbidden from participating in partisan politics. While criticism of the Catholic Church has been rife online about the San Diego parish memo, there has been little criticism of candidates appearing at churches of other denominations. Deborah Fikes, formerly of the World Evangelical Alliance, and evangelical Christian leader Beth Moore, for example, have come out firmly for Clinton.