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La Crosse bishop removes Father Altman from ministry

Bishop Callahan and his representatives, the diocese said, “have spent over a year, prayerfully and fraternally, working toward a resolution related to ongoing public and ecclesial concerns.”

Fr. James Altman (Image: YouTube screenshot)

La Crosse, Wis., Jul 9, 2021 / 12:11 pm (CNA).

Fr. James Altman has been removed from ministry after Bishop William Callahan of La Crosse sought privately to correct the priest for his inflammatory, though in some circles popular, commentary on social media.

“The obligation of a bishop is to ensure that all who serve the faithful are able to do so while unifying and building the Body of Christ,” the La Crosse diocese said July 9. “Bishop William Patrick Callahan, in accordance with the norms of canon law, has issued a decree for the removal of Fr. James Altman as pastor of St. James the Less Parish.”

“The decree is effective immediately and for an indeterminate period of time. During this time Fr. Altman, must refrain from exercising the function of pastor,” the diocese said.

Bishop Callahan and his representatives, the diocese said, “have spent over a year, prayerfully and fraternally, working toward a resolution related to ongoing public and ecclesial concerns.”

The diocese will arrange for the continued pastoral care of the parishioners at the parish.

“The bishop and all the leadership of the diocese asks for the consideration of respect, safety and prayers at this time for all involved,” its statement said.

Before the decree, Fr. Altman held the role as pastor at St. James the Less Parish on the north side of La Crosse. Fr. Altman stirred controversy for numerous public statements he made in 2020 and 2021 on politics, racism, feminism, and the coronavirus pandemic. In viral video that was posted online Aug. 20, 2020, Fr. Altman said that no Catholic can be a Democrat, because of the party leadership’s support for abortion.

Bishop Callahan sought to correct the priest privately. Fr. Altman, in his homily for Pentecost Sunday, said the bishop had asked him to resign “because I am divisive and ineffective.” The priest declined the request that he resign and said he would seek to challenge it canonically.

Internet supporters appear to have given $722,000 to support his cause, according to crowdfunding sites.

The bishop’s decree denies a commendatory letter to the priest, meaning he can only celebrate Mass in private with no members of the faithful present, excepting only his parents. He may no longer preach nor assist at marriages. He may not administer baptisms, even for family members, without permission from the bishop or the relevant vicar.

Fr. Altman must reside within the La Crosse diocese and regularly meet with its vicar for clergy at least once a month until further notice. The decree invites him to make a 30-day spiritual retreat to allow him “the possibility to spiritually heal and recharge and to address the issues that caused the issuance of this decree.”

The restrictions apply until its cause has ceased to exist, and it is Father Altman’s primary responsibility to work to remove the cause, according to the decree.

Altman came to widespread attention for his ten-minute August 2020 video, viewed more than 1.2 million times on YouTube.  The priest criticized Democratic Party supporters, saying “there will be 60 million aborted babies standing at the gates of heaven barring your Democrat entrance.” He noted the Democratic Party platform’s commitment to legal protection for abortion, but also decried the “climate change hoax.” He lamented the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to provide accommodations for undocumented migrant U.S. residents who arrived as children. The DACA program, he said, “means criminal illegal aliens.”

Following the video, Bishop Callahan said Sept. 9 that Fr. Altman had inflicted a “wound” upon the Church and said he would correct him privately.

Altman has since contended that the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol by a medley of supporters of President Donald Trump and the QAnon movement were a “false flag.” His messages to parishioners in April parish bulletins claimed that the COVID-19 vaccines are “experimental” use of “a genetic altering substance that modifies YOUR BODY – YOUR Temple of the Holy Spirit.”

“God is still the best doctor and prayer is still the best medicine,” he said.

On Pentecost Sunday the priest in his homily argued that many bishops “abandoned Catholics wholesale” in the pandemic due to health concerns or state orders.

He also noted the reaction his remarks had generated.

“They want my head on a platter,” he said of bishops. “They want my head now, for speaking the truth.”

The priest has had some support from Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, who has been outspoken on Twitter. He endorsed Fr. Altman’s video in a Sept. 5 tweet.

He tweeted his continued support for Fr. Altman in May.

“Fr James Altman is in trouble for speaking the truth,” Bishop Strickland said. “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. Let us pray for him.”


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43 Comments

  1. I support Fr. Altman for speaking the truth at a time when we are being silenced! I feel like he is leading a flock much larger than he can imagine. Love catching his homilies and podcasts on various programs. He has made my Faith come alive again! At a time America needs so much Hope for its future. He has given so much encouragement. On of the most Holy Priests I’ve been honored to know. Fr. Parker is another one. God renew the Church by filling it with Holy Priest. God bless Fr. Altman and Fr. Parker!

    • So many of Catholic Faith proponents support Fr Altmen’s position on these topical issues; but Altman is bound by his sacred vows including obedience to his Bishop! Obviously the Bishop must act based on his perception of the consequences of Altman’s actions!
      It’s not a popularity issue! Sit back quietly and observe
      observe! I’m sure we will all learn something!

    • What part of his nutty demagoguery is the Truth? His excuses for lynching as “capital punishment”? His claim that Warsaw Jews deserved the Holocaust? His ugly stupid lies about vaccination that have helped kill nearly a million Americans? He needs to be laicized.

      • Sincere question…Would you please quote the sources that you’re using to make these comments about Fr. Altman? I’m not familiar with the accusations that you’re making, and I’d like to find out the entire context of your comments. Thank you!

        • Last time I bothered looking up any of the bile emitted by Shea, he was praising George Soros. His comment here makes it clear that he is untroubled by the use of vaccines derived from research on aborted babies. Yet, this character, last I heard, is still invited to lecture at Catholic parishes.

        • He made none of those statements, but the Eighth Commandment has meant little to those directing venom towards defenders of orthodoxy for decades.
          And Bishop Callahan might want to consider the Gospel before taking refuge in cliche words of libCatholicspeak and pseudo-Catholic cowardice.
          “Unity” is not, never has, and never will be a Catholic value. Jesus preached that his disciples be divisive when truth was on the line. A man’s enemies will be members of his own family.

        • The statements saying lynchings were somewhat justified like “capital punishment” are around minute 46 in this recording: https://youtu.be/AjeWSYzbxiE

          In this show https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=13oaWClB9oM at minute 6:20 you’ll hear him state how the “Jews in Warsaw, the doctors” would, by performing abortions, bring about their demise (i.e. the Holocaust, although he doesn’t speak this specific word, only that “they had it coming”)

          This is one of the sermons where he derides science and Covid-19 deaths: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVj_zejxIRo

          There’s a lot more, but this should already show you that these accusations are based on things Fr. Altman does publicly say or preach.

          • Georg, Thank you for taking the time to put the links up so that I could listen to Fr. Altman’s comments in context. I appreciate it!

      • Please speak clearly. It is not at all clear to whom you refer when you slander a person named “he.” Further, you make no sense whatsoever. Your questions are without any reason, without explanation, and they lack correct syntax.

        If someone helped kill a half million people, what have we to do with that? Why didn’t you call the police?

    • There is only one truth and you will find it. If you not familiar with the Scriptures read the word of God in John 14:6
      ” I am the way, the truth and the life , no one goes to the Father except through me.”
      So are disputing the Word of God ? by asserting that Fr Altman is author of truth? I hope not. Read St Paul letter about preachers Appolos versus St Paul
      1 Corinthians 3
      We all have different gifts from the Holy Spirit but that does not makes us superior to others.
      As for COVID-19 vaccines, again Fr Altman is mistaken in his interpretation. I suggest you read Galatians 3:1 St Paul’s letter should be encouraging for those who are being misled by ignorance of Science and the Scriptures. Read the Bible and don’t follow others in ignorance.
      Our Catholic faith teaches us to be obedient and accept criticism from our elders or superiors and God demands this of us. This is called humility. You don’t have to prove that we are the only ones who speaks or knows the truth. Again , you must be familiar with our Lord Jesus Christ and His Mission. Remember His victory on the Cross, an innocent man, but obedient to His Father’s will. The list goes on, Abraham and Isaac another good examples of obedience. On the other hand you have the opposite, which is pride. Father Altman has been given time to reflect on his vocation, and the sin of pride.He needs to ask himself whether he is a priest, or a politician. Only Fr Altman can answer with the help of our prayers. Give Cesar what is due to Cesar. He does not belong to this world as we children of God, we only should focus on spiritual growth especially those of the people he is condemning. Jesus was always in the company of sinners, Matthew, Zacheus, Mary Magdalene to name a few. We have duty to pray for conversion rather than to condemn.
      Don’t be the first to throw the stone. Fr Altman has lost his way. He needs our prayers, especially that of St Francis of Assisi. The pride of Lucifer led to his downfall and I think gathering a crowd of totally blind followers is not the way forward. The crowd should be following Jesus Christ not him. We are followers of ONE man. Only God and noone else. I suggest he donates the money raised to the poor. He has made an error and has allowed Lucifer to misguide him in disguise. As for you, focus on the Bible and that is truth. Jesus said to Nathaniel “I saw you reading the Scriptures under a fig tree.” When you read the Bible everyday, every hour, every second, Jesus, your High Priest will reveal the truth and transform your life. Not a mere misguided, disobedient Priest who has lost his way and needs healing of inner wounds. God is good.

  2. Silence father Altman but put “ father” Martin along with Tobin and cupuch and their homosexual agenda on a pedestal. This is why the church hierarchy is becoming irrelevant!

    • “Becoming” irrelevant?

      I would argue that they are already there, but they just haven’t got the memo yet.

  3. More lies and slander from Mark Shea. Nothing new here, for sure. Fr. Altman does not need to be laicized. Mark Shea needs an exorcism.

  4. What we will learn is that there are two sets of rules. If there is a problem with Fr. Altman, it is clericalism, the same clericalism that plagues the hierarchy and perhaps his bishop too.

  5. Altman Fr. Giving sermon on pentecost day looks a problem, give details on his sermon? Which his bishop asks him to resign?

  6. Father Altman speaks the truth!Abortion IS murder!Beleive me,anyone that supports abortion is list to the fires of Hell
    Our Lord called this man from being a lawyer(12 yrs)to the priesthood to administer to his people.Father Altman followed the call although he could have ignored the call and kept making money being that lawyer.The reason that father Altman became a priest?Our lord wanted him to speak loud and clear as to what is going on in the states and all the sins and transcriptions being committed!His bishop I think works for the higher ups that don’t want to hear the truth!They will listen someday when it will be too late for all concerned who don’t like to hear father Altman tell the truth get their just reward.

  7. The episcopate is unhinged, drunk on its own juices. There is not a priest of any perspective who does not know this to be true. We learned to live without our parish priests last year because of inane episcopal rationalizations. It would serve the USCCB well to see the diocesan priesthood withdraw from ministry for an indeterminate period to bring the reckoning to the episcopate’s reckless stewardship not only in financial administration but in their scandalous theological and moral inadequacy as well.
    We need to be cleaning house and it starts at the top. The laity have learned to “do without” in critical matters for a long time.

    • Yes, but Fr Altman needs to pray for better ways to get his points across than just spue out accusations. I agree with what he says but thoroughly did agree with how he is going about it. Perhaps he can consult Bishop Robert Barron, whose methods get people to think and listen rather than divide and turn their backs. In addition, he should NOT make his remarks from the pulpit. The pulpit is for the spreading of the Good News of Christ and only the Good News of Christ, in other words, the Gospel. Other means can be devised to speak the truth of what Fr Altman is saying. I pray that he will find these ways.

  8. Fr. Altman is a Saint speaking the truth.The truth I was truth I was taught in Catholic schools.It is very had for me to continue in my faith,with Bishops that are evil.I believe the bishops and the pope are distorting our faith . They are helping the anti Christ.

  9. We have become so used to platitude homilies of “God loves you, have a nice day” that when a priest preaches like the early apostles and Fathers of the Church, we think he is overdoing it. I have seen nowhere in these articles about Father Altman where the bishop has said that this statement of his is not true. His bishop’s initial statement was that he objected to Father Altman’s manner and tone. Even on topics, like the abortion tainted vaccine and climate change, he is as qualified to talk on the subjects as the Vatican.
    Although this article says that father Altman’s statement on the democrats is because the party’s leadership supports abortion, the situation goes far beyond that. They not only support it, they push to expand it. Not only the leadership, but 99-100% of democrat members of congress vote for abortion. Their platform calls for abortion anytime, any place, for any reason, up to birth, paid for by the government.
    We have bishops and cardinals who give communion, and state that they will continue to give communion, to militantly pro-abortion politicians, in violation of canon 915, and nothing at all is done about them.
    I have no doubt that father’s bishop came under pressure from other bishops and cardinals. But this is no excuse for what he did. In my state three of the four bishops are registered members of the democrat party – the party of death. I am sure they did not like his statement that you cannot be a catholic and a member of the democrat party.
    I admire and support father Altman.

  10. Fr. Altman is the best thing to happen to the Catholic Church since Bishop Sheen. Altman speaks the truth and is concerned with saving souls. He is unlike the bishops, interested in money, who speak vague political correctness in order to keep their huge government contracts for providing NGO services.

  11. Sad but not unexpected news. Fr. Altman helped me through the toughest time of my life. His 90yr old parents and Griffin his dog are also going to be uprooted. I pray for Fr. Altman every day. I think he’ll go forward just fine.

  12. The bishops can’t remove Joe Biden from the Communion line but they can remove Fr. Altman from his priestly duties for the crime of pointing out that Biden is in violation of biblical teaching as reflected in Canons 915 – 916 of the Catholic Church’s Code of Canon Law. Got it !

  13. I think it is well past time this Priest who has publicly on utube suggested contrary to Christ’s teaching – judge others. I agree abortion is an abomination and as part of the Pro Life Movement I protest it but I have to wonder Where was his voice when the Republicans under Trump were praising neo nazis. white supremicists, attacking the poor, refugees – this definitely is not Christ’s teaching that he is perpetuating. Sadly there are many within the church who are attacking her and the chosen head of the Church Pope Francis. The Holy Spirit made that choice and I am content that the Holy Spirit knows best. No Priest, Bishop or Cardinal has the right to dictate that anyone who is Catholic must hold the same view point as to his. It’s time he took the log out of his own eye before telling his brother to take the speck out of theirs. Thankfully Christ assured us that the gates of hell will not prevail against Holy Mother Church. God bless and protect Holy Mother Church and Pope Francis and bring an end to abortion.

    • How dare you trade in bald-faced lies to support the framing of your caricatures? When did Republicans “praise” neo-Nazis or white supremacists? Are you referring to your forerunners in bald faced dishonesty in the media who merely claimed they did when they did not? At great length President Trump, for example, condemned those who were motivated by racism at Charlottesville. And yet, in order to manipulate the dishonorable, extracted his comment of good people on both sides referring only to the peaceful demonstrators to try to create the impression he was referring to the racists. They knew what they were doing, just as lib Catholics always reduce conservative Catholics to caricatures rather that act honorably with a fair hearing. Incidentally, Father Altman has given dozens of homilies condemning the sins you say he never mentions.

    • contrary to Christ’s teaching – judge others. (sic)

      Time for you to brush up on Scripture, madame.

      “And why even of yourselves, do you not judge that which is just?” Jesus Christ, Luke 12:57

      After you slowly and deliberately ponder that for a few days, take a gander at Matthew 18 and read Christ’s explanation on how to excommunicate the unrepentant from the Church, an act which requires judging another.

      The Holy Spirit made that choice(sic)

      Assumes facts not in evidence and also commits the serious sin of presumption on your part.

    • “I think it is well past time this Priest who has publicly on utube suggested contrary to Christ’s teaching – judge others”

      You do seem a tad bit irony challenged.

      “Where was his voice when the Republicans under Trump were praising neo nazis. white supremicists, attacking the poor, refugees”

      He was nowhere, because that didn’t happen.

      “The Holy Spirit made that choice ”

      The Holy Spirit doesn’t make the choice of Popes.

      “No Priest, Bishop or Cardinal has the right to dictate that anyone who is Catholic must hold the same view point as to his.”

      Are you demented? On matters of faith and morals they most certainly do.

  14. If Fr. Altman had preached far left-wing policies and beliefs; would he have received the identical treatment as he is getting now? Truth comes from revealing both sides of an issue, and discerning which has the greater argument. Faith will guide your mind to ascertain which side has the greater truth. But, in our democracy, both sides must be allowed to express themselves fully without fear of severe punishments.

  15. Its interesting how a priest of the church can be silenced for being faithful to church teaching. Even when that teaching comes out in an abrasive manner. Yet the same Bishops are afraid to call out a “Catholic” public figure for his blatant pro-abortion stand, which should be in itself a sin.

  16. Perhaps Bishop Callahan could better spend his free time by turning off CNN/MSNBC and reading a good, thought provoking novel (such as ‘Father Elijah : an Apocalypse’ or ‘Lord of the World’). His action begs the question: “To whom does he answer: the Democratic National Committee, the USCCB or the Holy See?” I pray that there are still distinctions between them.
    For some time it has confounded many of us commoners as to why our church leaders refuse to make clear statements and take proper stands against the current evils of our society. Well, there’s no more use to give them the benefit of the doubt. It’s time to accept that the actions of the prelates are not just influenced by, but are effectively directed by the same destructive ideologues that are reducing our culture to sludge. Accepting that fact clears away the fog of confusion, after which we can redirect our energy toward praying ever more fervently that the Holy Spirit will finally crash down on their corrupt network and strangle the writhing worm that it truly is.

  17. I previously fully supported Fr. Altman but upon reading this article Fr. Altman holds some views of a madman. One thing I do somewhat support him on is that no Catholic can be a Democrat. I don’t totally agree, some people vote Democrat because of some of the lunacy of the Republican party’s intentions. There is a correlation between the Democratic party and Freemasonry, namely, DESTROY THE GOOD!! There is a strong semblance between the Republican party and Bergoglio and his henchmen. I do question the intentions of the Bishop, Is this true for the good or is he out to just destroy a popular priest? In the last 50 years destroying holy priests has been a fun sport of many Bishops and Modernist priests and laity enjoying it all as spectators.

  18. Let’s pray for both men, Fr. Altman and Bishop Callahan. Let’s respond to the facts as best we can know them.

    Given the available information from readily accessible primary sources online, a reasonable person could conclude that the bishop’s objections lack a basis in fact. Nothing that Fr. Altman is on record as saying has been unfaithful to the Gospel. Has Fr. Altman’s manner or delivery been intense, blunt even? Sure. So what? That people get bent out of shape because criticism merely offends them, and to their way of thinking (which avoids substance and integrity) justifies calumny toward another, toward Fr. Altman in this instant, suggests that those offended by Fr. Altman’s criticism are merely bullies who imagine themselves to be victims.

  19. The decree invites him to make a 30-day spiritual retreat to allow him “the possibility to spiritually heal and recharge and to address the issues that caused the issuance of this decree.” Maybe it’s time for this bishop Callahan and others of his ilk, like james martin, sj, attend a spiritual retreat.

  20. I watched the first two videos cited by Georg. Neither suggests that Father Altman implied support for either lynching or the Holocaust. He simply mentioned some uncomfortable and unpopular ideas concerning ownership of slaves by blacks, The Democratic Party’s fierce resistance, to the point of war, of slave emancipation, and the alleged performance of abortions by Jewish doctors in Warsaw. He merely made a suggestion about Divine Justice, which, of course is unfathomable.
    Altman suffers from the modern societal dysfunction of an attempt to suppress free ideas. His bishop should be ashamed of himself. Little courage on his part.
    Mark Shea’s comments are entirely erroneous, deliberately or otherwise. Watch the video.
    God bless courageous clergy like Father Altman.

  21. We have maybe come to the bottom of the Slippery Slope? At 88 yrs old, I do have a copy of Humanae Vitae packed away, and not too many ears ago, I was caring for one of my Neighbors who had a Priest Nephew, and Niece caring for her. the Niece was engaged and I offered her a copy of Humanae Vitae, And, the reply was: Oh you are one of those. Father Forgive Us — We do need your Intervention.

  22. Having been in the Health Field for over 60 year, and assisted in the Military Maternity Ward for a couple years, and then after having had 7 children who had to struggle through college because of an absent father, and spending another 20 years trying to DISCERN the meaning of all that is happening — I keep thinking about my Favorites. like C.S. Lewis. Bishop Sheen, Pope John Paul II. and lately Archbishop Chaput’s New Book on things worth dying for — could only read parts , as Macular degeneration limits all of us to some degree. Archbishop quotes from Doc Scott Peck’s book — people pf the Lie. and I do wish to listen once again to Doc Pek’s Farther down the Road Less Travelled, and His work with a Catholic Exorcist — Who came to our country after Pope Paul VI released him from his jesuit vows, I m now thinking of that so called Interim Pope who Opened the Windows f Vatican II — Did Satan enter the Sanctuary? Having been educated by those School Sisters of St Francis who taught the Baltimore Catechism, I do believe that we have come to the Bottom of the Slippery SLope that Pope Paul warned us would happen when so many rejected Humanae Vitae. “Father Forgive us, We do not know what We are Doing”!!

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