An Italian priest found himself embroiled in a national controversy this week after a Christmas bulletin he posted in his church went viral.

Perio Corsi's flier, entitled “Women and femicide – healthy self-criticism. How often do they provoke?” claimed that women in Italy may be to blame for a spate of domestic violence attacks, Raw Story notes. Members of the priest's congregation then posted the text on the Internet:

How often do we see girls and mature women going around scantily dressed and in provocative clothes?

They provoke the worst instincts, which end in violence or sexual abuse. They should search their consciences and ask: did we bring this on ourselves?

The flier went on to decry "increasingly provocative," "arrogant" and "self-sufficient" women who abandon their children, don't clean their houses and serve cold meals.

Corsi is the leader of a church in the small parish of San Terenzo in northwest Italy, according to The Journal.

The Daily Beast's Barbie Latza Nadeau notes that this year 120 women have been killed in domestic disputes in the European nation, "a third more than last year." In fact, the problem has even caught the attention of the United Nations Human Rights Council, which urged the country to take action last June.

As calls for the priest to resign intensified, Euronews reported that Corsi issued an apology, only to quickly take it back. He also used an anti-gay slur when debating a reporter from Rai Radio, L'Huffington Post reports.

Meanwhile, local officials have been quick to distance themselves from the church leader's comments.

The mayor of San Terenzo said his constituents were "dumfounded" by Corsi's holiday missive, while the region's bishop Luigi Ernesto Palletti called the flier's sentiments “unacceptable and go against the church’s common feeling on the matter," reports The Journal.

Even the Vatican commented, with Monsignor Vincenzo Paglia, the president of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Family, going on Vatican Radio Thursday to dismiss the claim, according to the Daily Beast.

“There is widespread often dramatic violence against women and you can not think at all that it's the fault of women themselves,” Paglia said.