Father James Altman, a diocesan priest who made a viral video last year claiming that Catholics cannot be Democrats, announced on Sunday that his bishop has ordered him to resign as pastor.
“For the record, dear family, Bishop [William Patrick] Callahan has asked me to resign as pastor, as of this past Friday, two days ago, because I am divisive and ineffective,” Fr. Altman, pastor of St. James the Less Parish in La Crosse, Wisconsin, said in his homily posted online for Pentecost Sunday.
Even as public support for the priest grew among rank-and-file Catholics across the country and around the world, Bishop William P. Callahan began threatening the outspoken priest with “canonical penalties” in September.
“They want my head on a platter,” Altman said of bishops. “They want my head now, for speaking the truth.”
“To paraphrase the great, great Cardinal Burke, ‘When I die, I will stand in judgment before the Lord, not any Bishop of the church, nor as the great Cardinal Burke specifically said, the USCCB,’” said the priest.
Instead of being choked up or retreating, Altman pressed on with the truths he has been preaching, much to the anger of many American bishops.
“What really is at play here, dear family, is that other shepherds are offended because I simply state the fact that they abandoned their sheep in a time of need. If this alleged virus was allegedly a fraction as dangerous as they said it was, it was all the more reason to keep our churches open and get you the sacraments so that you stayed in a state of grace. They put your eternal souls at risk!”
“I can’t imagine any ordained priest, bishop, or cardinal failing to feed his children. But I am aware of this. I am not the one who causes strife. I am not the one who is ineffective. I am not the one who is belittling my workplace.”
“Jesus warned the Apostles and us that if the world hated him, it would hate us, just because we are trying to be faithful. In other words, the world will be divided by the truth,” he continued. “There will be we who are faithful, who follow the truth, divided from those who are not faithful and who oppose the truth.”
“So dear family, you have to ask yourself, why is anyone accusing me of being divisive? Like as if that is a bad thing, if we know that the truth divides, exactly as Jesus said it did, and I am speaking the truth. In 14 months, no one has said I haven’t,” said Altman.
“Then why is any ‘good Catholic’ complaining about me being divisive?” he asked. “The answer, dear family, is no ‘good Catholic’ is complaining. As a matter of fact, good Catholics from around the world have been very, very supportive.”
Altman revealed that he is working with a canon lawyer.
“In response my canon lawyer asked for clarification—asked for the justification and a chance to review what was in my file that suggested I was so divisive and ineffective,” explained Altman. “And I say all this only because, I’m no expert on canon law, but understand only that while we are contesting bishop’s request—and we are—he could in theory appoint a parish administrator whilst I remain a pastor without duties until the appeal goes through Rome, which could take up to a year or more.”
Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas, messaged to express his support for Altman on Twitter.
“Fr James Altman is in trouble for speaking the truth,” wrote Bishop Strickland. “I originally supported him when he spoke bold truth during the election. I continue to support him for speaking the truth in Jesus Christ. He inspires many to keep the faith during these dark days.”
“This is war, folks. The vipers in the episcopacy are playing for keeps, while ‘conservatives’ play for what they can hold on to … for now,” said Lepanto Institute President Michael Hichborn.