The Wilderness Crying Out in a Voice

Today’s self-styled “John the Baptist” figures sometimes do the opposite of preparing the way of the Lord.

Screenshot from a June 16, 2021 video titled "Vigneron's Disgrace - Father Altman's message to Abp. Vigneron" (YouTube)

In 1987, when I was ten years-old and a devotee of the World Wrestling Federation, I saw an episode of the WWF talk show, Piper’s Pit, hosted by the Scottish wrestler Rowdy Roddy Piper. On this particular episode, a fateful betrayal took place, in which Andre the Giant turned against Hulk Hogan, challenging the Hulkster to what would become one of the most important athletic contests of all-time, a bout for the WWF World Championship at Wrestlemania III.

Andre’s betrayal of Hulk Hogan’s friendship was a moment of emotional pique, to say the least. That it was not an occasion of refined etiquette goes without saying. Andre (incidentally, proven by the film The Princess Bride to be one of the great thespians of the age) even tore off Hogan’s gold crucifix and chain, shocking the sensibilities of Hulkamaniacs like me and priming the pump of our zeal for Hogan’s triumph. Incidentally, that victory took place in front of 93,173 fans, the largest recorded indoor attendance in history, until Pope St. John Paul II celebrated Holy Mass before 104,000 people in St. Louis twelve years later.

What is the point? Only that the wild and wooly, bombastic antagonism of the 1980s-era World Wrestling Federation strikes me as being slightly more civilized than certain sectors of Catholic society these days. 

The most recent example brought to my attention was a video by Fr. James Altman, a priest of the Diocese of LaCrosse, Wisconsin. Father Altman has lately become a favorite speaker of many Catholics who perceive him to be a “voice crying out in the wilderness” with courage and directness of speech.

In this particular video, Altman denounces Archbishop Allen Vigneron of Detroit, my own archbishop, with a vehemence that might prompt circumspection and a reticent blush on the part of the professional wrestlers to whom I referred earlier. I do not mind saying that in addition to the video’s violation of my senses of Christian virtue and natural justice, it also stirred my filial loyalty to my bishop, whom I look upon as a true and faithful spiritual father.

Providentially, Archbishop Vigneron himself has recently provided a pastoral document aimed at helping Catholics to engage with just this kind of media communication virtuously and with an appropriately critical eye. In The Beauty of Truth: a Pastoral Note on Communicating Truth and Love in the Digital Age, Vigneron offers an incisive reflection on today’s digital media climate. He highlights some of the dangers of the digital world, and guides the faithful in the virtuous use of these media, as consumers and participants in online discussions.

Altman’s video was published after Vigneron’s pastoral note, so the latter is in no way a direct response to the former. But the note gives several important insights, including five “warning signs” of problematic digital media communication, that help provide an interpretive key for understanding Altman’s video and the ocean of similar media content. The five warning signs are the following:

  1. “any proposition out of harmony with the teachings of Christ and his Church,”
  2. “unsubstantiated claims or allegations,”
  3. “the manipulation of facts to deceive or harm,”
  4. ad hominem attacks,” and,
  5. “the spirit of division.”

Altman’s video does not directly violate the first of these warning signs, as he makes no doctrinal claim. It would perhaps be begging the question to assert that his video is out of harmony with Christ’s teaching on charity.

When it comes to unsubstantiated allegations, Altman seems to have no other kind. He accuses Archbishop Vigneron of persecuting the media company Church Militant, the recording studio of which Altman used to record his video. He also claims to have experienced a taste of such persecution himself, in the lead-up to his June 16 address to the Call to Holiness Conference in the Archdiocese of Detroit. And Altman accuses Vigneron both of persecuting one of his priests and of allowing the Detroit Chancery to persecute this priest as well.

In The Beauty of Truth, Vigneron writes, “Any person who makes a serious allegation has a correspondingly serious obligation to offer compelling evidence of his claim.” Altman offers zero evidence supporting any of his claims. 

Altman’s video is also a brutal personal attack on Archbishop Vigneron, whom Altman quickly and repeatedly resorts to calling “Allen.” Dropping the use of an appropriate clerical title is a peculiar tactic from a conservative Catholic. Altman yells much of his message and is animated by what appears to be intense anger. 

The word “divisive” is often misused, preempting even legitimate occasions when proclaiming the truth of the Gospel will unavoidably cause division. But Altman’s video, like so many others of its kind, will surely cause division in the vicious sense of the term, as it will further corrode the already damaged and fragile trust in Church authority that exists among so many Catholics today.

The lay faithful have sought long, hard, and too often in vain for clear preaching and teaching of the Catholic Faith. It is no wonder, therefore, that so many Catholics quickly become devoted to figures like Altman and others who speak forthrightly on issues too-long ignored or downplayed in Catholic pulpits and classrooms. 

This doctrinal poverty, combined with the many and horrendous scandals to which we have all been exposed in recent years, have created a hunger bordering on starvation for clear voices speaking the truth without dilution or compromise.

This hunger on the part of so many Catholics is understandable. Yet it is neither virtuous nor spiritually safe to absorb uncritically the teachings of every media figure who purports to be a prophet, a rare and courageous voice of truth in a world of falsehoods.

True prophets exist among us, given by God to bring order out of the chaos of our time. But every cleric or layperson proposing that he or she is such a prophet deserves and should welcome holy scrutiny, in the spirit of St. Paul’s teaching in 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22: “Test everything; retain what is good. Refrain from every kind of evil.”


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About Fr. Charles Fox 63 Articles
Rev. Charles Fox is an assistant professor of theology at Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Detroit. He holds an S.T.D. in dogmatic theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum), Rome. He is also chaplain and a board member of St. Paul Evangelization Institute, headquartered in Warren, MI.

61 Comments

  1. Altman says you can’t be Catholic and democrat. Democrats are not only the longest standing monument to slaveholding, Confederacy, and Jim crow segregation, they are presently the standard bearer for killing one’s children. These are not Catholic values and like William Lloyd Garrison said of slavery “Tell a man whose house is on fire to give a moderate alarm, tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hands of a ravisher, tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen – but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present.”

    The homosexual priest (oxymoron) crisis is our house on fire.

    • The Democratic Party today is not the party of conservative Southerners. I understand the historical connection you are attempting to make but the Democratic Party was also the party of our devoutly Catholic immigrant ancestors.
      Times change and so can allegiance to political parties. The Democratic Party left us first.

  2. Let us not forget that the Bishops of the Church have the greater duty, responsibility and authority to teach, uphold and perpetuate the orthodox teachings of the Church than the priests and the laity. Our Dr Ed Feser offers an excellent complimentary article posted today on Catholic World report. If even one bishop, it is far too many Bishops are teaching conformance to the world in violation of teaching the world to conform to God by all too few bishops. It is not the Orthodox Bishops promoting conformance to the world but the progressive/liberal bishops catering to modernism.

  3. Thank you, Fr. Fox, for this good article. I don’t know Fr. Altman, and I wish him no harm. Someone, though, sent me his homily for Pentecost Sunday, May 23, 2021:https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#search/monscalkins%40gmail.com/FMfcgzGkXSbQGMRXkwLxBxkDDWMflxNt?projector=1 Between 11:18 to 11:34 of the video Fr. Altman makes some statements that are open to challenge. He claims that there have only been 4-7 infallible statements made by the Magisterium. Perhaps he’s thinking of infallible papal pronouncements. If, though, we take into account infallible pronouncements of ecumentical councils the number of infallible statements is certainly much higher. We only need to go through the canons of Trent to see that the infallible pronouncements of that single council greatly exceed 4-7. Fr. Altman then claims that if a statement by the Magisterium is not infallible it’s just an opinion. This, though, is error 22 of the 1864 Syllabus of Errors issued under Bl. Pius IX, which claimed that Catholic teachers are only bound by the infallible propositions of the Church (Denz.-H, 2922). Fr. Altman’s reduction of authoritative teachings of the ordinary Magisterium to mere “opinions” also contradicts what is taught by Pius XII in Humani Generis, 20 and Vatican II in Lumen Gentium, 25. I wish no ill towards Fr. Altman, and I don’t know the details of his conflict with the Bishop of La Crosse. His May 23rd homily, though, contains some claims that are contrary to sound Catholic theology.

    • Thank you Dr. Fastiggi for your excellent observations and for explaining the truth of what the Church teaches regarding infallibility. I hope many people reading Fr. Charlie’s well constructed article will also read your important explanations. Bless you.

  4. Agree mostly with article and have grown to feel the same way about many like Father Altman and other media sources for the way they are criticizing. Even when I agree with there point and support what they are criticizing.

  5. Thank you Fr. Fox for this very enlightening and very instructional information to remember in judging wisely the actions and words of the likes of Fr. Altman. Yes, one had better have concrete evidence and present it when charging someone of certain allegations.

  6. Dear Fr. Fox:

    Fr. Altman certainly can and ought to be criticized, when appropriate, and that is right and just.

    Under the same principal, Bishop Vigneron can and ought to be criticized. And in his particular case, there is reportedly A LOT TO CRITICIZE.

    It is now known because of reporting and vigorous work by Catholic defense attorney’s that Bishop Vigneron had his right-hand-man Msgr. Bugarin wrongfully hire a police woman for the purpose of confecting a LIE about Fr. Perrone, falsely stating that a witness accused Perrone of homosexual predation. The LIE prompted the witness to travel back to Michigan from his home in the south to publicly refute the lie confected by Bishop Vigneron and Msgr. Bugarin. Because of the work of the attorney’s defending Fr. Perrone, he has been vindicated not only in the US criminal court, but by the Vatican’s CDF, which rejected the Archdiocese of Detroit’s accusations against Fr. Perrone.

    You are misguided in expecting or implying that Catholic people ought to trust Bishops like Bishop Vigneron. The Fr. Perrone case has revealed him to a deceitful and malicious man. Because Bishop Vigneron and Msgr. Bugarin are deceitful and work to hide the truth, a judge in Michigan had to threaten Bishop Vigneron with contempt of court for refusing to disclose justly demanded evidence in the Perrone case.

    Bishop Vigneron and Msgr. Bugarin are deceitful and malicious men of the abusive counterfeit-katholik-cult. Such men are an example of the corruption and decadence of a counterfeit cult, which has chosen the darkness of sin, and hates the light of Christ, and I would teach my children to look out for and avoid such men as Bishop Vigneron and Msgr. Bugarin.

    • Thank you. Assumption Grotto was my parish from 2013 to 2019. In my heart it still is where I live now in Mishawaka, Indiana. I can add nothing to what you have said. Again, my gratitude and respect.

      • Thank you in turn Graham.

        Bishop Vigneron and his Msgr. Bugarin are malicious frauds and they have been over-ruled by courts if both the state and the Church in Rome (the CDF).

        It is vastly disappointing to see that Fr. Fox is making appeals to Catholic faithful to listen to Bishop Vigneron, after learning that he and his Msgr. hired a third party police woman who the courts found guilty of defamation of character against Fr. Perone.

        I am going to share with readers a number of reports that show the deceitfulness and malice of Bishop Vigneron and his henchman Msgr. Bugarin.

    • Chris, Thanks for your comment. Fr. Perrone was my pastor for six years and I cannot imagine my early years in the Church without him and his associate, Fr. Bustamante.

      Graham

  7. I’ll cast my lot with Fr. Altman. We’re hard-put these days to find heroes or saints among the episcopacy. Has Bishop Vigneron been outspoken against the desecration of the Eucharist by the likes of Biden, Pelosi and Co.? I think not.

  8. Good article Father. Thank you.

    Fr. Altman’s recent video dripped with ego and self-aggrandizement. He was purposefully rude and disrespectful. For example, there was no need to call Princes of the Church and Successors to the Apostles by their first names in an uncharitable effort to mock them and goad them into a response. It was juvenile.

    Yes, there are serious problems within the Church and the episcopacy, but videos like Fr. Altman’s do not help. I was embarrassed for him.

    He’s an example of what has been bothering me lately. As an orthodox Catholic I too am deeply bothered by the state of the Church and the horrendous scandals.

    However, I feel that Catholics today are forced to pick a “camp”. It’s a stark choice between liberal Catholics and their incoherent presentation of the Faith or the angry ranting of people like Fr. Altman and Voris. The orthodox, balanced middle has seem to disappeared.

    I truly feel homeless in the Church. It seems we have only 3 equally bad choices: liberal left wing Catholicism, angry right wing Catholicism or beige Catholicism. The dynamic orthodoxy of JP2 and Benedict seem to be distant memories. I don’t want to join any faction or agenda (the extremes of both the left and right are nuts and sadly those are the voices we hear). I just want to be a normal, orthodox Roman Catholic.

  9. Dear Fr. Fox, Could you please provide some evidence that what Fr. Altman said was false? There is a heap of evidence that states Fr. Perrone is innocent of any wrongdoing. It does not take a lot of digging to find evidence that Church Militant has been under attack for 15 years. You may know that Fr. Altman is a lawyer … do you think he would make claims that are not substantiated by factual evidence?

    All Church Militant has asked for is the “dialogue” that the present hierarchy of the church has so strongly advocated for … but the present Archbishop of Detroit has always refused. Sadly, they do not want to dialogue with Tradition; they will only dialogue with Modernists. This is diabolically disingenuous, and you know it.

    The Truth, that is Jesus Christ Himself, always causes division. The heretics, modernists, apostates, and other non-believers in the One True Faith are ones who cause division in the Body of Christ. Fr. Altman just points it out and intensely prays and does reparation for their offenses, always beckoning them back to the fold with great mercy and pastoral care.

    Lastly, I pray that the persecution of faithful and orthodox priests be eradicated and that prelates who perpetuate this monstrosity be converted. I also pray for priests that are persecuted, especially in Detroit, that the seed of their white martyrdom might bear much fruit.

    Ave Maria!

  10. Here in the U.K, when all churches were closed for months, I felt blessed to discover Fr. Altman. He helped me immensely. God be with him.

  11. While Fr. Altman may have made errors of fact or judgement, his motives are consistent with my 78 years of Catholicism. Canon 915 is clear…no Eucharist for those guilty of continuous and non-repentant sin. It is also a fact that Bishop Vigneron tried to prevent Fr. Altman from speaking at an event within the boundaries of his Diocese.

    I disapprove of his failure to respect the office, but the scales of justice weigh heavily in favor of the truth he speaks. Substance, not form, will matter to God.

  12. I am not familiar with all the nuances of the relationship between Fr. Altman and
    the Bishop. As a lifelong Catholic I do agree with the proposition that a person
    cannot be a faithful Catholic and a Democrat. Accordingly, I am no longer a
    Democrat. I would be interested in knowing what Fr.Altman got wrong.I am sure Fr.
    Fox is a very good and highly knowledgeable person but to me at least he did not
    spell out the correctness of the Bishop`s position and the falsity of Fr. Altman`s.
    I am not really interested in personalities but simply the basic Catholic principles.

  13. Fr. Fox thank you for the excellent article. I make buildings for a living but can’t help beleiving, “Intellege ut Credas – Crede ut Intellegas”. And so I read study the bible as well as Augustine, Aquinas and modern commentataors like Trueman, Spitzer but also Descartes, Pascal, Spinoza, Kierchegaard, Hegel, Heidegger, etc. Ultimately the line from John Lennon seems so poinant, “…The more you know the less you understand.” But heck, I love the long standing dialogue between Christianity and Western thought, it’s so fun! But this period in time seems so different – the Post-Modern encouragement of the superficial Wikipedia knowledge of everything and its false self-endowed wisdom in the guise of science is troublesome because it plays into the hands of mob rule. I think Dr. Daniel Bonevac of the University of Texas has the best descrption of Post-Modern philosophy that I have ever heard: “Post-Modern Philosophy is: He who shouts the loudest defines the truth!”. So, I think it is unfortunate that ‘Church Millitant’ has adapted this ideology of fighting fire with fire, and worse I know for a fact that is is indeed effective among mnay of my fellow parish Catholics who tend to be reactionary and anti-intellectual, (Don’t get me wrong, these are great Catholic men who are the boots on the ground kind of guys who I admire: KofC, Ushering, Servers, Readers and Deacons). It makes me thankful that the platform afforded us by the likes of “Catholic World Report” to inform and intelligently is avaialable. Hopefully the Catholic faithful and intlligensia can slow or delay ever increasing descent into faith and intellectual chaos. St. Augustine pray for us.

    • I think Dr. Daniel Bonevac of the University of Texas has the best descrption of Post-Modern philosophy that I have ever heard: “Post-Modern Philosophy is: He who shouts the loudest defines the truth!”.
      True, unlike the loud, boisterous rankings of Fr. Altman, just listen to Archbishop Vigneron’s homilies. Gentle, loving, truthful, Christ-like; and everyone I’ve heard ends in encouraging devotion to the Holy Eucharist. That says it all. He is a true shepherd, loyal to the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Church.

  14. Andrew says — “Fr. Altman’s recent video dripped with ego and self-aggrandizement. He was purposefully rude and disrespectful. For example, there was no need to call Princes of the Church and Successors to the Apostles by their first names in an uncharitable effort to mock them and goad them into a response. It was juvenile.” What have you then have you to say, Andrew, when scripture scholars, and theologian, and priests say, “Peter says this” , “John says this”, “Luke says this”? Are they being disrespectful and juvenile?

    • Well, next time you go to Mass drop the title “Father” and just greet your priest by his first name. Is that respectful? Would you teach your child to greet priests and bishops by their first name?

      Moreover, a priest owes respect to the office of bishop.

      When I was in the army I was taught to always respect the rank, even if I disagreed with the person holding that rank. Why? Because the rank is granted by a high authority. To respect the rank is to respect the one who has granted it. In the case of bishops that’s Christ and the Pope. One can disagree and still be respectful and charitable. Fr. Altman was not.

      PS: I would prefer people use the term saint when referring to St. Peter etc.

  15. I admire Father Altman. If Father Fox can list anything false that Father Altman said, he should list it. Or, is it like Father Altman’s own bishop stated, he didn’t like Father’s tone and manner, not that he had said anything false.

  16. “Any proposition out of harmony with the teachings of Christ; the manipulation of facts to deceive or harm, and,the spirit of division.”

    Well then, most of the left-leaning bishops who are aiding and abetting the Democratic party fail your own criteria. Or were we not supposed to notice that? You are defending the indefensible. Shame!

  17. I too was extremely disappointed with Father Altman’s remarks when I read the transcript. (I could not have sat through the whole video without shutting it off.) Even if his facts are correct, he’s just not going to catch many flies with his slash and burn style. I wouldn’t want others to think his style represented my views. Jesus said that the Pharisees deserved the respect of the people because of their position, not because of their actions, so even if our bishops are dead wrong on a whole lot of things, they are still the bishops. Finally, one can disagree without being disagreeable.

  18. “If the trumpet sounds an uncertain note who shall go forth to battle”. The bishops, collectively, have been equivocating for years and are now out of time. When people are desperate for leadership they tend to not be picky. You reap what you sow.

  19. I have seen some video of Father Altman speaking, but do not as such “follow” his preaching. What I saw was him expressing his thoughts rather strongly, but not in any way in conflict with Catholic teaching. I heard him be critical of the lack of action on the part of many timid Bishops on many issues. In this he does not likely differ much from the opinions of many Catholic laity.The Bishops were too timid to defend the church from shutdown and the cancellation of EASTER back in 2020. Now they seem too timid to take a stand on the sacredness of the Eucharist, or politicians who trade on their supposed Catholic identity where Communion is concerned. These positions should be a no-brainer for any Catholic Bishop.Yet , given the inaction of the Bishops, it appears they are not. It should come as no shock that many Catholics thus feel frustrated and betrayed, and embrace a priest like Father Altman who seems to have no hesitation or fear in speaking the truth.Truth often sounds abrasive to those who do not wish to hear it. Respect in dialog should be encouraged but trying to silence a priest for defending the faith and the rules, albeit in strident tones, will not go over well with the laity.

  20. Between Fr. Altman and Abp. Vigneron, considering the track records of each when it comes to truth-telling and commitment to justice upholding the unchangeable faith and moral teachings of Holy Church, I’m forced to side with Fr. Altman. It’s a shame that Fr. Fox thinks that the church is just one big wrestling franchise, the consequences of losing a wrestling bout cannot be compared to losing one’s soul. Is this what Catholic World Report considers a print-worthy criticism these days? Long gone are the days I looked forward to each issue of your periodical, and that’s as it should be.

    • I’ve only been the editor of CWR for ten years, but I’m familiar enough with its entire history to state with assurance that it never would have supported the sort emotive diatribes and self-aggrandizing mud-slinging that Fr. Altman too often employs. Also, CWR has not had monthly or bi-monthly issues since late 2011.

      • Catholic World Report would do well to give focus to why so few priests speak up so forcefully against the Woke Culture in the Church as has Fr.Altman. CWR would do well to give focus to why such outspokenness has even been necessary in our Church. All hell has broken loose in our Catholic Church and here we find a need to question the means by which one of the faithful has chosen to call attention to the fact. The issue is the rot among some in the hierarchy and not how some have chosen to call attention to it. Again, I would challenge anyone to cite an occasion where Fr. Altman said something that was was not true.

      • Well, he DID say “Long gone are the days.” : )

        It’s a sad dilemma, though: between the abrasive but orthodox priest, and the respectful but spineless bishops, don’t we have to pick the faithful, insulting priest? Geez, these bishops debating whether to issue a document that touches on maybe correcting the unspeakable evil in which “Catholic” politicians have wallowed for decades… Their mincing timidity is just repulsive. I guess you can reject both sides; is that the answer? Everyone seems untrustworthy; now Crisis and OnePterFive have both shut down their comments section because the fine, devout Catholic who frequent them are so toxic and venomous. Where does it end?

      • Carl,

        I’m a little taken by your personal opinion of Fr. Altman’s “emotive diatribes and self-aggrandizing mud-slinging that Fr. Altman too often employs”. Seriously? Our Beloved Lord and St. John the Baptist could have been accused of the same kind of behavior that you accuse Fr. Altman of when St. John the Baptist called out the Pharisees and scribes of his day as a brood of vipers and when Our Lord turned over the money changers tables in the temple, no doubt their holy words and actions were also considered the same by the religious leaders of that time.

  21. This is admirable of CWR to publish this piece just like when it did published correctives to the wackiness of Archbishop Vigano of late. Fr. Altman has also turned wacky and really took full advantage (like fundraising) his new found celebrity status (or notoriety).

    • His bishop said he was removing Fr. Altman from ministry–his job–his lifelong career. He was to find a new place to live. The man is a priest, FCS. If the Church will not support her lifeblood workers, there is no Pauline gospel and this Church is asking Hell’s gates to eat her.

  22. If you collect 100 black ants and 100 fire ants and put them in a glass jar, nothing will happen.
    But if you take the jar, shake it violently and leave it on the table, the ants will start killing themselves.
    Red believes that black is the enemy, while black believes that red is the enemy, when the real enemy is the person who shook the jar.
    The same is true in society.
    Men vs Women
    Black vs White
    Faith vs Science
    Young vs Old
    Etc …
    Before we fight each other, we must ask ourselves:
    Who shook the jar?

  23. If our bishops cannot be united against the horrible sin of abortion, what can they be united about? I want one bishop to say that abortion (its procurement or public advocacy) is not grave sin and that it’s permissible to receive Communion while guilty of grave sin…just one. So what’s the problem?

  24. “emotive diatribes and self-aggrandizing mud slinging”. Wow! So, do we prefer the smooth talking Cardinals Cupich, Gregory, Tobin, etc? Would John the Baptist be accused of emotive diatribes while shouting at the Pharisees. I will take a priest shouting REPENT like an old testament prophet over smooth talking cardinals.
    Much is being made about the 3/4 vote of the bishops to create a document on Eucharistic coherence. But, in the end, what they agreed to was to create a document which will say no more than what I learned in the second grade, in the 1950’s, about the Real Presence.
    I just read that Archbishop Cordileone, one of the good bishops, stated in a recent interview that he is still in dialogue with Nancy Pelosi. He has been her bishop for nine years! This is the kind of thing that prompts Father Altman to call the bishops to account.

  25. The lavender mafia has thoroughly penetrated the Detroit archdiocese. Father Altman knows this. Yes, he extremely outspoken, no holds barred. Perhaps he should work on that. OK, fine. Nothing he says, nothing at all, is outside of Church teaching.
    Altman is unafraid. Comparatively, the US bishops are weaklings. The USCCB craves the crumbs from Caesar’s table and will perform all sorts of theological gymnastics to feed on those crumbs.
    Fr Altman wants little to do with Caesar and absolutely nothing to do with our numerous cowardly bishops. So be it.

      • Andrew we retain the freedom to speak our voice against ecclesial iniquity with moderation, as Fr Fox suggests. Nonetheless, we must be firmer, more direct and willing to call it as it is, contrary to the reluctance of many authors of articles. At times a flare of indignation is fully justified. Laity have the right to address issues with their bishops in compliance with canon law. While many priests are reluctant for fear of reprisal, laity have greater latitude and apparently are our best hope for a moral rebirth.

      • And we mustn’t forget the real Voice in the Wilderness called dissolute clerics vipers, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? (Mt 3:7) Certainly not an example of overly pietistic moderation.

    • What Altman is doing is the very thing he is ranting about and he is sermonizing. Priests take a solemn promise of obedience to their bishop. A priest has no authority except under his bishop. A deacon is called to service as a table waiter and does not work under a pastor, but rather the bishop. A deacon, at his ordination also makes a promise of obedience to the bishop. Whenever a new bishop comes into a diocese or if a deacon or priest transfers to a different diocese they must make a promise of obedience to the new bishop. I ask the question of whatever happened to that promise of obedience by so many?

      • Mmmmm.

        With the honorable exception of St. John Fisher, the bishops of England followed Henry VIII into heresy. Should the priests have obediently followed their bishops?

        • Leslie there were priests who refused to take the oath to the King despite their bishop’s acquiescence.
          The Tablet Saturday January 15, 1887. Decree of the Congregation of Sacred Rites confirming the honour given to the blessed martyrs John Cardinal Fisher, Thomas More, and others put to death in England for the faith from the year 1533. Those who suffered death under King Henry VIII John Fisher Bishop of Rochester, Thomas More Chancellor of England, Margaret Pole Countess of Salisbury mother of Cardinal Pole, Richard Reynolds of the Order of St Bridget, John Haile priest, eighteen Carthusians, John Forrest OFM priest, John Shire Augustinian priest, Four secular priests: Thomas Ald, Edward Powell, Richard Featherstone, John Larke.

  26. So many of us who were abandoned by bishops, priests, and nuns in the sixties and seventies will always have a different perspective than those of Fr. Charlie and Teresa. I could not then and cannot now pretend that was going on wasn’t going on. Nothing has changed. Nothing

  27. A final comment. I suspect that the Church of America (similar in focus and concerns to the Church of England) will continue its distractions with equity, the environment, feminism, U.S. Constitutional rights (including abortion) etc. They will “reach out” to the marginalized which literally and figuratively means the back of that hand to the faithful, the repudiated. With the unending persecution of my former pastor, Fr. Perrone, I am now wary of every priest I meet. Not only in the since that Joseph Sciambra speaks of, but in other ways as well. As a former Episcopalian I would attend an Ordinariate parish if one were available here in Indiana. I would be much more comfortable with a married priest at this point. Whenever I speak of what I saw in New York during the height of the AIDS crisis of gay men (and New York has now been identified as the location of patient zero) every person I meet shuts down. They’re afraid. Just as Catholics are afraid speak of the who, as well as the why, what, when, and where of predation. I increasingly suspect that the Church of America, unlike the much smaller Church in America, would be relieved when my generation of prey are gone, dead and gone. The relief will all mine.

  28. I read Abp. Vigneron’s pastoral document:
    “Unfortunately, hearing the voice of Jesus has become increasingly difficult amid a cacophony of other voices clamoring for our attention at all times. Seeking the truth is more challenging in a world awash in deceptions of all kinds. Never have the words of St. Paul been more urgent: “Test everything; retain what is good. Refrain from every kind of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22).”
    The Archbishop continues:

    What are some of the warning signs of this problematic use of media and communication?

    1. Any proposition out of harmony with the teachings of Christ and his Church.
    2. Unsubstantiated claims or allegations.
    3. The manipulation of facts to deceive or harm.
    4. Ad hominem attacks.
    5. The spirit of division.

    Although I am not very familiar with Fr. Altman’s demeanor, after reading the Archbishop’s document, Fr. Fox’s article, it seems that they could apply the acid test to themselves as well. Furthermore, I do not see due diligence among the clergy in the past sixty five years in addressing grievous distortions and neglect in proper clerical formation. Not only that, there were but a few brave ones in the USA speaking out about decaying Catholic education in general and the corresponding corruption in the political arena in which many Catholics were involved including Catholic clergy and educators. I have listed several books which give a fairly good cross-cut of the hidden problems in the USA below.
    Unless clergy and educators can right the ship it seems likely that the

    “The Wilderness Crying Out in a Voice” must become:

    “The Wilderness Cries Out With Many Concerted Voices”
    Van Guard, Rear Guard Step Out!
    Hail, Christ The King

    The Cardinal Wuerl Legacy: Vivicousness & Deceit … for starters.: I learned about Theodore McCarrick as far back as 2002. And Donald Wuerl didn’t learn of his crimes & tort offenses until 2004? Oh, I don’t think so.
    “For those unaware, Donald Wuerl was twice a part of a seminary inspect-
    ion system known as Visitations. After such visitations, he reported to
    Rome that the seminaries in the United States were in sound and healthy
    condition. However, this was a lie, being that the seminaries were being
    overrun by a cabal of Sodomites in power and a school of heretical teach-
    ers placed in positions of administrative rank. In fact, the seminaries were
    severely lacking in the teaching of moral theology and other categories of
    academic subject matter needed by priests. Revelations of the pathetic
    state of “priestly formation” in the United States were found in the book,

    Goodbye, Good Men.” —2002-Regency Publishers, Inc.

    UnGodly Rage-Donna Steichen, 1992- Ignatius Press
    Catholics and The New Age, Mitch Pacwas, SJ 1992-Servant Publications
    Prodigal Daughters, Donna Steichen 1999 Ignatius Press
    Ratzinger Report, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger1985 – Ignatius Press
    Catechisms and Controversies – Michael J. Wrenn, 1991, Ignatius Press edition
    Blessed Are the Barren: The Social Policy of Planned Parenthood, October 1991-Ignatius de Robert G. Marshall (Author), Charles A. Donovan (Author)
    (Provides detailed information on agencies inside the government for which we pay with our taxes that baffles the mind.)

    • Forgot the publisher for:
      Blessed Are the Barren: The Social Policy of Planned Parenthood, October 1991-Ignatius de Robert G. Marshall (Author), Charles A. Donovan (Author), 2002 -Regency Publishers, Inc.

      War on the Catholic Church and her Deposit of Faith in the USA has been going on for a long time. One example with which I am quite familiar is the story of Fr. Paul Marx, Apostol of Life. He founded the Human Life Center at St. John’s University in 1972. He was forced out of St. John’s Abbey, Collegeville, Minnesota by dissenting priests. I remember the horrible battle and slap-down of this remarkable priest. He then moved his pro-life endeavor to Washington, DC, where he was given refuge by a pro-life couple. Fr. Marx’s work developed into what is known as HLI(Human Life International)

      Many in the hierarchy seem to be unaware that laity are quite knowledgeable of the decay in USA seminaries and institutions of higher education. Anyone with half an eye open could detect the rot at least beginning in the mid 1950s. Since then, things have declined yearly. Closing our eyes and covering up will not heal the festering wounds that have been visited on our dear Lord and the Catholic Community by dissenters.

      Pablo Blanco in his article “Words and silence: the relationship between Benedict XVI and the media” Like Guardini, the German Pope believed that truth has no need of special adornments to make itself felt. Truth speaks with its very beauty. It is clear that Benedict XVI reached the heart of his listeners on many occasions: for example, as Cardinal Ratzinger when he denounced the ‘filth’ within the Church during the Via Crucis a few days before the death of John Paul II, as well as in the homily at his predecessor’s funeral and at the start of his own pontificate. Nevertheless, in the following text, we will analyze four encounters that we find especially indicative of the overall relationship between Joseph Ratzinger and the media, as they show an interesting balance between the eloquence of the word and the power of silence (Blanco 2010a, 499–509; Blanco 2010b, 9–
      The specific events described and analyzed here – chosen among other possible examples – are the following: the publication of the book-interview The Ratzinger Report (1985), the controversial Regensburg address (2006), the subsequent Papal visit to Turkey, and his 2010 visit to the United Kingdom as an unusually idyllic moment with the media. Considering these four events, we also draw on the reflections of the German Pope himself, not only with respect to news coverage and social media, but also regarding the inherent relationship between reason and word, silence and truth. see: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/23753234.2018.1478228

      Fr. Marx is only one example of persecution of priests from inside their ranks. If the rank and file do not clear the rot, (and there is a lot), out of the clergy and the educational system, then the laity will have to roll up their sleeve in pray, fasting and action. THE TIME FOR SILENCE IS PAST OVER. If ever there was a time for just anger this is it. A spade is still a spade, time to lay the cards on the table. Time to dig up the dirt and call out the ‘filth’!

      • Poor Father Marx. We truly enjoyed him & the whole world was blessed by his work(& continues to be through Human Life International). We had the privilege of meeting him years ago & seeing thenew HLI headquarters in Front Royal. May he rest in peace. God bless him & HLI.

  29. Has anyone ever heard of the author of this article? It reads like a hit-piece for hire. It follows a classic slander template used by hirelings on the left.

  30. Dear Fr.Fox, Archbishop Vigneron writes a beautiful document “The Beauty of Truth.” Sadly he does not abide by his own advice. With regard to unsubstantiated claims or allegations, he and Msgr Bugarin are horribly guilty of publicly accusing Fr. Perrone with not only unsubstantiated allegations but accusations that were denied by the so called victim himself even before Msgr Bugarin publicly defamed Fr Perrone. False accusations are definitely out of harmony with the teachings of Christ and His Church # the 8th commandment! The so called Victim said” something may have happened.” Which Msgr Bugarin publicly interpreted as an allegation of rape. I would definitely call that” manipulation of facts to deceive (and) harm. “ The state of Michigan investigated and found no allegation of rape ( not only no evidence but not even an allegation by the so called victim!) An arbitration panel found The deputy, Nancy LePage, guilty of defamation. Which makes Msgr Bugarin guilty because he was with the deputy when she interviewed the so called victim. And the Vatican found that the case had no substance. So we have the State of Michigan, an arbitration panel and the Vatican all saying, essentially, the case has no substance ! What we don’t have is an apology from the Archbishop who is ultimately responsible for the gravely sinful treatment of Fr Perrone. We have a parishioner at our parish who is from Japan and his family saw the smearing of Fr Perrone there on the news….in Japan! We have family in Ottawa,Canada who saw it on the news there! Archbishop Vigneron has a lot of reparation to do for the damage he has caused to Fr Perrone. The Archbishop needs to use his own advice to examine his conscience and repent! And Msgr Bugarin should spend the rest of his life on his knees , alone somewhere where he can’t harm anyone else, begging God for mercy for what he has done to Fr Perrone!

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  1. about Fr. James Altman: "Today’s self-styled “John the Baptist” figures sometimes do the opposite of preparing the way of the Lord." – Defenders of the Catholic Faith

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