La Crosse bishop to correct ‘Catholics can’t be Democrats’ priest

CNA Staff, Sep 9, 2020 / 03:32 pm (CNA).- After a Wisconsin priest said in a viral video that no Catholic can be a Democrat, the priest’s bishop said he will attempt fraternal correction before imposing canonical penalties or taking other formal steps in the matter, and acknowledged that the priest had inflicted a “wound” upon the Church.

“I am applying Gospel principles to the correction of Fr. Altman. ‘If your brother does something wrong to you, go to him. Talk alone to him and tell him what he has done. If he listens to you, you have kept your brother as a friend. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two others with you to talk to him.’ (Mt 18:15-16).”

“I have begun this process, not in the bright light of the public arena, but as the Gospel dictates, in private,” Bishop William Callahan of La Crosse said in a Sept. 9 statement.

“Canon law indicates that before penalties are imposed, we need to ensure that fraternal correction, rebuke or other means of pastoral solicitude will not be sufficient to repair the scandal,” the bishop added, in reference to canon 1341 of the Church’s Code of Canon Law.

Fr. James Altmann, a priest of La Crosse, gained attention after an Aug. 30 video was published on YouTube, in which the priest said that “You can not be Catholic and be a Democrat. Period.”

In the ten-minute video, which has been viewed on YouTube more than 400,000 times, the priest said that he had “crunched the numbers,” and “I came up with a pretty close approximation of how many Catholics voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012. Zero.” “

There will be 60 million aborted babies standing at the gates of heaven barring your Democrat entrance,” Altman added, while criticizing the Democratic platform’s commitment to legal protection for abortion.

The priest also decried the “climate change hoax,” and lamented “DACA- which means criminal illegal aliens,” he said.

He also criticized Archbishop Wilton Gregory, and praised President Donald Trump as “one of the best pro-life presidents.”

While the Catholic Church condemns support for the legal protection of abortion, it does not prohibit membership in the Democratic Party, and in recent months, some bishops have recognized the voices of pro-life Democrats advocating for changes to their party’s platform on the issue of abortion.

The priest’s video gained even more attention after Tyler, Texas Bishop Joseph Strickland “endorsed” it over the weekend.

“As the Bishop of Tyler I endorse Fr Altman’s statement in this video. My shame is that it has taken me so long.  Thank you Fr Altman for your COURAGE. If you love Jesus & His Church & this nation…pleases HEED THIS MESSAGE,” Strickland tweeted Sept. 5.


As the Bishop of Tyler I endorse Fr Altman’s statement in this video. My shame is that it has taken me so long. Thank you Fr Altman for your COURAGE. If you love Jesus & His Church & this nation…pleases HEED THIS MESSAGE

— Bishop J. Strickland (@Bishopoftyler) September 5, 2020


Strickland has not yet responded to a request for comment from CNA.

For his part, Callahan noted that Altman has become a symbolic figure in a fractured conversation about Catholicism and partisanship in America.

Callahan emphasized that he understands “the undeniable truth that motivates his message. When we approach issues that are contradictory to the Faith and teachings of Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church, particularly on abortion and other life issues, we should invite dialogue and heart-felt conversion to the truth. Our approach must never seek to divide, isolate and condemn.”

“That being said it is not only the underlying truth that needs to be evaluated but also the manner of delivery and the tone of his message. Unfortunately, the tone Fr. Altman offers comes off as angry and judgmental, lacking any charity and in a way that causes scandal both in the Church and in society. His generalization and condemnation of entire groups of people is completely inappropriate and not in keeping with our values or the life of virtue,” the bishop insisted.

Callahan also recognized that many Catholics are looking to him for clarity.

“The amount of calls and emails we are receiving at the Diocesan offices show how divisive he is. I am being pressured by both sides for a comment; one side holds him up as a hero or a prophet, the other side condemns him and vilifies him and demands I silence him,” the bishop wrote.

“Most people expect a decisive move from me, one way or another. Many suggest immediate penalties that will utterly silence him; others call for complete and unwavering support of his views. Canonical penalties are not far away if my attempts at fraternal correction do not work.”

“I pray that Fr. Altman’s heart and eyes might be open to the error of his ways and that he might take steps to correct his behavior and heal the wound he has inflicted on the Body of Christ.”


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  1. The solution is actually rather easy. Make Altman the bishop of La Crosse and apply canonical penalties to Callahan after “fraternal correction”.

  2. The obvious problem is when clergy of any rank utilize the Church to advance their political affiliation they will cause a divisive fracture between the faithful that disagree with their position! And I submit; that is the intent! Damage the Faith! Otherwise they would preach the true Faith about the issue and the consequences of not abiding by it. Period! Let the political consequences happen-all by themselves!

  3. Jesus called them vipers and was not all warm and fuzzy with the leaders of the Temple. With the laymen he called them to repentance and not to sin again, to do what the leaders said, but not what they did – good not evil. When you look at each party’s platform you can see that anyone who votes for the demoncrat party cannot in good conscience call themselves Catholic. Call a spade a spade, evil is evil however you twist and turn it. The demoncrat party we have now is not the democrat party that we had way back when. So I believe Fr. Altman is justified in all his remarks and his anger is just disgust that people are so blind and is more towards the leaders of that party who think they portray Catholic values. Faithful Catholics are sickened by their words and actions. You can tell a good tree by its fruit and theirs is rotten.

  4. Well, Fr. Altman’s stellar talk was broadcast on eighteen Catholic Radio Stations in the Midwest reaching millions of listeners on Labor Day, Sept. 7th. They wouldn’t have broadcast the talk if it were contrary to Catholic truth. Fr. Altman speaks about the hard truths of the Catholic faith which all bishops should do as well. Clergy should be concerned with salvation, not just warm fuzzy feelings. Fr. Altman is a hero. Very disappointed in Bishop Callahan for caving into political correctness.

  5. Everyone ought to be watching his sermons. They are brilliant. He is a voice crying in the desert.

    C.f. youtube
    Complicit Clergy
    Confraternity Of St. Michael The Archangel

  6. Why do we hear such meaningless talk from the bishops as this…”Fr is causing division”…?
    No! No he is not! Sin, apathy to the deadly, horrible crime of abortion is causing division. Lies, lies that create false equivalences with “other issues” are creating division. Stating what is true, even in a forceful way creates no division but merely shows clearly where the division already exists. The division already exists between those who will forcefully cry out “ABORTION MUST STOP“ and those who roll along with it ‘cause they want to get some other stuff done…and frankly they’re not all that bothered by the slaughter of untold millions. Well I’m here to bother you, Bishop! You, We, Have a duty to do what we can to stop this horror from continuing. You ought to be at least as forceful as this guy. You ought to be at least as clear. Abortion is the destroyer here, not your priest. Oh Lord Jesus, please give these bishops the wisdom of Solomon, and let them see that the ones who seek to save the little children from destruction are not the divisive ones!

  7. Division in the church IS being created, not by priests who speak the truth, but by hierarchy who refuse to publicly uphold the teachings of the truth . We, the laity, are constantly being bombarded with the fallacies that are thrown at us due to the refusal of the representatives of our faith to clarify them. Knowing full well that every word spoken by them will be twisted, they should be VERY careful in what they say. Are we, the laity, angry about this? Yes, somewhat, but what you see is not anger, it’s frustration. I, a registered Democrat agree with Fr Altman that a TRUE Catholic could NOT support the Democratic Party.

  8. If I were Fr Altman I would consider requesting incardination to the diocese of Tyler, better known as the diocese with the bishop who is unafraid to put on his big boy pants. I wish our hierarchy would put even one-quarter the effort into correcting rogue priests, deacons and religious who clearly lead the faithful astray by promoting actions and values contrary to Church teaching rather than correcting the courageous clergy who preach the truth of the Gospel.

  9. Father Altman spoke the TRUTH. Hell is REAL. Too bad the Bishop is such a lukewarm cleric. Jesus says He will spit them out of his mouth, he who is neither hot nor cold. Take courage Father Altman. This weak Bishop thinks political correctness is his salvation. It is his demise.

  10. My family and I have been Catholics for 77 years. The Catholic religion is loosing more people than any other sect in the world.Professing this type of nonsense, I can understand why. Our allies and friends around the world are laughing / mocking our President and questioning how he is in that position. Being a registered Republican,I do not want Trump representing me any longer. Amen.

  11. I left a reply. They deleted it. Don’t like the comments. Anybody but the Donald. And this is a mortal sin ? I can see why people are leaving the Catholic Religion. Amen.

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