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Father James Altman, who said Catholic Democrats ‘will face the fires of hell’, asks his bishop to resign

WASHINGTON (CNS) – Father James Altman, pastor of St. James the Less Parish in La Crosse, Wisconsin, told masseurs May 23 that Bishop William P. Callahan asked him to resign because he was “divisive” and “inefficient”.

Fr Altman – who has told his followers he is being singled out for preaching ‘the truth’ about ‘all the evil we face’ – has been making headlines and stirring controversy since last fall with provocative comments from the pulpit.

The priest criticized Catholics who are Democrats, saying they must “repent” of their support for the party or “face the fires of hell”.

Father Altman criticized Catholics who are Democrats, saying they must “repent” of their support for the party or “face the fires of hell”.

More recently, he called the U.S. bishops “ineffective” for “their failure to stand against the ungodly government over the past 14 months,” referring to the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions that all places of worship had to follow to stem the spread of the virus.

He also slammed the bishops for “hopping the injection bandwagon”, referring to COVID-19 vaccines, and called the coronavirus a “presumed virus” and questioned how dangerous it really is.

In a statement released late May 24, the Diocese of La Crosse noted that Fr. Altman had made public Bishop Callahan’s request to resign “as well as his intention to refuse the request.”

“As a result, the Diocese of La Crosse will respond in accordance with the canonical process necessary for the removal of a priest from his pastoral office,” he said, adding, “It is important to note that it does not does not act as a penal remedy but a pastoral remedy.”

The diocese said “over the past year concerns have been raised about” Father Altman’s ministry, and Bishop Callahan and canonical representatives “have worked to fraternally and privately address these concerns.”

“The process was pastoral and administrative with a desire for a just resolution between all parties,” the statement said.

Last September, Bishop Callahan said he had privately begun “applying gospel principles” to correct Fr. Altman.

This followed the nearly 10-minute YouTube video of the priest posted on August 30, 2020 by Alpha News MN on its website. To date, over 1.26 million people have viewed this video.

Last September, Bishop Callahan said he had privately begun “applying gospel principles” to correct Fr. Altman.

“Here’s a note for baptized Catholics who don’t know anything about it: you can’t be Catholic and be a Democrat. Period,” the priest said. “Their party platform is absolutely against everything the Catholic Church teaches,” especially its teaching that abortion is a “moral evil.”

The Bishop then said that “canon law indicates that before sanctions are imposed, we must be sure that fraternal correction, reproof or other means of pastoral solicitude will not suffice to repair the scandal.”

The priest has become “a social media phenomenon and is now a mainstream media story,” Bishop Callahan said. “The number of calls and emails we receive in diocesan offices shows how divisive it is.”

In his May 23 homily — which was also posted as a YouTube video that as of late afternoon May 25 had garnered 68,706 views — Fr. Altman said the Mass could be the last he says as a pastor.

His canon lawyer, he said, “asked for vindication and a chance to review what was in my file that suggested I was so divisive and ineffectual. … I’m not an expert in law canonical, but understand that while we dispute the bishop’s request – and we are – he could conceivably appoint a parish administrator while I remain a pastor without office until the call goes through Rome, this which could take up to a year or more.”

“Why does anyone accuse me of dividing as if it’s a bad thing? If we know the truth divides just as Jesus said, why would a good Catholic complain that I’m dividing,” a he asked. “No good Catholic complains. In fact, good Catholics around the world have been very supportive of me. Unfortunately, in our cancel culture, if the left complains enough, they want to cancel me.”

Father Altman said that although it was “very unintentional”, “my effort to preach the truth has gone viral over the past 11 months”, and has brought in many donations from around the world for the parish, enabling the parish to get a new roof for the school and church, among other things, and increase the parish share of the diocesan appeal from “just $53,000 my first year here to over $100,000.”

“I’m not the divisive one. I’m not the inefficient one. I’m not the one who disrespects my office,” he said. “They (the bishops) have done a great job of being divisive (and) ineffective… without any help from me and that’s why they despise me because it’s the truth and the truth hurts. “

He thanked his “dear family” in St. James and beyond for their support. He also thanked Bishop Joseph E. Strickland of Tyler, Texas, for his support.

On the day Fr. Altman announced he had been asked to step down, Bishop Strickland tweeted, “Father Altman is in trouble for speaking the truth. truth in Jesus Christ. He inspires many to keep the faith in these dark days. Let’s pray for him.

In its May 24 statement, the Diocese of La Crosse said, “Bishop Callahan asks for your prayers for Father Altman, for the Congregation of St. James and the faithful of the Diocese of La Crosse and beyond. brought to the ministry of a pastor is difficult, it is done with the hope that God’s work of justice, reconciliation and healing can be carried out in the body of Christ for a positive result.