Update, 5/15/2019: Fr. Larry Richards has apologized to Church Militant for falsely accusing us of threatening him with death.
One woman (whose name is being withheld to protect from retaliation) attended Mass Mar. 31 at Richards' parish, St. Joseph Church in Erie, Pennsylvania, and left the parish in tears after Richards condemned parishioners who had called up his bishop, Lawrence Persico, to complain about his behavior.
"I know who you are," Richards said in his homily, going so far as to tell those parishioners that they are "in danger of eternal damnation":
Some of you need to be reconciled. Some of you wrote letters to the bishop for me, and the bishop called me and told me your names. I know who you are. But the reality is, you endanger your eternal salvation, so God wants to be reconciled with you ... and you need to repent just as much as the other ones.
Referring to Church Militant, Richards said, "I went against them publicly because they went against the pope. And their people have went [sic] after me, and it's just been getting worse; it hasn't been getting better."
After this and multiple other homilies in which Richards has attacked his critics, the parishioner is choosing to leave the parish.
Richards has a track record of slandering organizations with which he disagrees. During the Legatus Summit in January, where Richards was emcee, he accused Church Militant of threatening to kill him.
"You know a couple months ago I said something about Church Militant and they threatened to kill me," Richards claimed. "Literally, I got death threats from a good Catholic organization that wants me dead in God's name."
Church Militant categorically rejected the claim.
"Father Larry Richards has been increasing the number of his completely baseless and wholly unsubstantiated attacks against Church Militant," Michael Voris told LifeSiteNews in a Mar. 13 report.
"Father Larry appears to be suffering from some disorder," Voris added. "He needs either to prove his charges immediately, or to stop making them, or further action from Church Militant will be required."
Richards then published a late-night tweet backtracking on his original claim, clarifying that it was not anyone in leadership who threatened him, but allegedly a follower. He issued no apology.
Church Militant sent a demand letter making clear Richards needs to repair the damage he caused by his defamation:
While we appreciate the retraction, a late night Tweet (seen by a few) is not sufficient to repair the damage caused. The original public defamatory comments were made to a large audience at a public setting that was captured on video which accused Church Militant, the organization, of committing horrible crimes. My client, Church Militant, respectfully asks you to make an equally public retraction to better mitigate the damages by undertaking the following:
1. write a letter to Legatus apologizing for the false comments and clarifying that Church Militant and its employees have not made any death threats against you, and ask Legatus to email your retraction to its members, including those members present at the conference;
2. make a very clear and explicit retraction on your EWTN radio show called "Open Line" which also broadcasts in video form on YouTube; and
3. edit and remove the defamatory statements from the video wherever your talk is distributed, broadcasted, or played.
The letter was sent in mid-March, with a copy sent to his bishop. As of press time, Richards has offered no response, nor has Bp. Persico.
Richards has also slandered LifeSiteNews, accusing one of its editors, Steve Jalsevac, of aggressively confronting him at a 2017 rally. Eyewitnesses, however, claimed the opposite — that it was Richards who was aggressive, raising his fist to Jalsevac and nearly punching him.
Richards has repeatedly slammed Church Militant and LifeSiteNews as doing the work of "the devil" and being "demonic."
A longtime parishioner at St. Joseph (who spoke to Church Militant and asked not to be identified out of fear of retaliation) said Richards is a "troubled" individual with anger issues — a problem to which the priest himself has admitted.
Richards is known to kick out penitents from the confessional if they don't have mortal sins to confess.
"Stop wasting my time!" Richards shouted at this particular parishioner, who is in the habit of going to confession every two weeks. "Why are you here?"
Another parishioner was left in tears after also being thrown out of the confessional for failing to confess a mortal sin.
Richards has also told parishioners that if they are in a state of mortal sin, they may receive Holy Communion, as long as they immediately go to confession after Mass — a practice the Church has condemned, making clear one may only receive Holy Communion after being absolved in confession.
In spite of the recent backlash to Richards' conduct, the priest is painting himself as the victim rather than acknowledging wrongdoing on his part. For example, a Mar. 28 tweet from Richards quotes Scripture, followed by the comments "God got your back! Let Him deal with those who hurt you or attack you and He will protect you."
Do not say, "I will repay evil"; Wait for the LORD, and He will save you” Pr 20:22 God got your back! Let Him deal with those who hurt you or attack you and He will protect you. Be at peace and trust in His love. Peace— Fr. Larry Richards (@FrLarryRichards) March 29, 2019
In light of Richards' latest attacks on Church Militant and his refusal to respond to the demand letter and repair the harm he has caused, Church Militant is now considering pursuing legal action against Richards and his diocese for defamation.
Contact information for Bp. Lawrence Persico: firstname.lastname@example.org