Describing animal rights campaigner group PETA as "occult", Bombala priest Fr Mick McAndrew has given his blessing to the act of sheep mulesing.
The Bombala Times reports Fr McAndrew is on a one man "mission" to protect his flock from the pro-vegetarian, anti-mulesing group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
The preacher has blessed the act of removing skin around a sheep's tail to guard against flesh eating parasites.
He has told farming parishioners it is acceptable to lie about whether their wool comes from mulesed sheep so prices are not forced down by sanctions driven by PETA, which boasts 1.8 million members who believe animals are not supposed to be eaten, worn or used for entertainment.
"You can lie when an unjust organisation imposes sanctions or threats,” said Fr MacAndrew, who invoked the right of equivocation, where a person omits or misleads to protect the attack on their beliefs.
"PETA is dark, it's the occult."
The Bombala priest, aged in his late fifties, feared activists were muddying the world's natural law by condemning animal husbandry knowledge dating back thousands of years.
"Are we humans being reduced to nothing but animal status?" he asked.
"Who wants to end up a forced vegan for the rest of their lives?"The part-time teacher pledged to educate pupils about the controversial farming practice when he tutors an agricultural science class next year.
The Catholic Church is yet to announce an official stance on mulesing although Pope Benedict has condemned battery hen farms, the paper says quoting a report from the The Land.
"PETA accuses many livestock farmers of cruelty," Fr MacAndrew said.
"Cruelty is against the law in Australia and the RSPCA monitors cruelty yet there's never been a prosecution against a woolgrower for mulesing.
"It's not a crime - mulesing is anything but cruel, cruel is the malicious and intentional intent to cause harm.
"It is carried out to prevent greater injury to the animal."
Father Mick defends our flock (Bombala Times, 6/6/08)