The Diocese of Madison announced earlier this month that the parish and reverend John Zuhlsdorf had reached a mutual decision on the conservative priest leaving his post.
In a statement accompanying the announcement, Madison Catholic Diocese bishop Donald Hying said that Rev Zuhlsdorf had left his post to “to pursue other opportunities.”
“The Bishop of Madison is grateful to the Reverend Zuhlsdorf for his faithful support of the diocese’s seminarians and priests, thanks him for his many years of steadfast ministry serving the diocese, and wishes him the best in his future endeavours,” the diocese added.
The announcement came just a few days after Rev Zuhlsdorf live-streamed on YouTube multiple exorcisms of alleged election fraud. The videos have since been deleted from the video-sharing platform.
The Lincoln Journal Star reported on Tuesday that Mr Zuhlsdorf believed in the false claims peddled by former President Donald Trump and his allies that there was widespread fraud in 3 November’s national election in favour of the Democrats.
In one of the live-streams, Rev Zuhlsdorf said: “I think it’s amply clear, there’s enough evidence to demonstrate that there was fraud in some places, and people had to commit that fraud, it didn’t happen by itself.”
He added: “As exorcists will confirm, the demons are very good with electronic equipment,” seemingly referencing false claims from Mr Trump’s allies that voting machines were rigged in favour of President Joe Biden on 3 November.
Despite the repeated claims from Mr Trump and several prominent Republican figures, there is no evidence of widespread fraud in last year’s election.
Rev Zuhlsdorf, who is a popular traditionalist priest, claimed that he got permission from bishop Hying to perform the exorcisms.
However, Mr Hying distanced himself from the priest on Tuesday, telling the National Catholic Reporter that he did not give the reverend permission to conduct exorcisms related to “partisan political activity”.
He instead claimed that he gave Rev Zuhlsdorf permission to perform an exorcism “for the intention of alleviation from the scourge of the coronavirus pandemic”.
An exorcism is defined by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops as “a specific form of prayer that the Church uses against the power of the devil.”
In a statement, Madison Catholic Diocese spokesman Brent King said that Rev Zuhlsdorf was not an employee of the parish, and was best described as a “freelancer”.
Rev Zuhlsdorf wrote on his blog about his departure from the diocese, but did not mention the exorcisms or his reasons for leaving the post.
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