A Wisconsin priest who attracted national controversy for telling Catholics to reject the Democratic Party because of its radical pro-abortion stance said he will challenge his bishop’s request to resign.
On Sunday, Father James Altman, the priest at St. James the Less Church in La Crosse, told his parishioners that Bishop William Callahan accused him of being “divisive and ineffective” and recently asked him to resign.
The Catholic News Agency reports Altman and his canon lawyer are challenging that request and asking for information from his file.
“They want my head on a platter,” Altman said of bishops. “They want my head now, for speaking the truth.”
Meanwhile, the diocese issued a statement this week confirming Callahan’s request for Altman to resign.
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“During the past year, concerns have been expressed related to” Altman; and the bishop and other canonical representatives “have worked to fraternally and privately address those concerns,” the statement read. The diocese said they sought a “just resolution among all parties.”
Because Altman refused to resign, however, “the Diocese of La Crosse will respond in accordance to the canonical process as needed for the removal of a priest from his office as pastor,” the statement continued. “It is important to note that this is not a penal remedy but a pastoral remedy.”
Callahan also asked people to pray for Altman, his parish and the diocese.
On Sunday, Altman told his parishioners that the Mass may be his last as a priest. He also pushed back against claims about being divisive.
“Why is anyone accusing me of being divisive as if that’s a bad thing?” he asked parishioners. “If we know that the truth divides exactly as Jesus says, why is any good Catholic complaining about me being divisive? … As a matter of fact good Catholics from around the world have been very supportive. Unfortunately in our cancel culture, if the left whines enough, they want to cancel me.”
After the news broke, Bishop Joseph Strickland of the Diocese of Tyler in Texas defended Altman in a post on Twitter.
“Fr. James Altman is in trouble for speaking the truth,” Strickland wrote. “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.”
Ahead of the presidential election last year, Altman made some strong, controversial statements about Catholics’ role in politics in America.
In a video that drew national attention, the priest insisted that Catholics cannot vote Democrat because of the party’s radical pro-abortion stance. He faulted “gutless cowards in the clergy” for failing to teach Catholics the truth about God and the value of every human life.
“There will be 60 million and counting aborted babies standing at the gates of heaven barring your Democrat entrance, and nothing you can say will ever excuse you for your direct or indirect support of that diabolical agenda here in the end,” Altman said.
The video has more than 1.2 million views on YouTube.
These and other statements appear to be the reason why Callahan asked Altman to resign. Altman also recently faced criticism for comments about the COVID-19 vaccines, racism, women, President Joe Biden and Catholic bishops, according to CNA.
Here’s more from the report:
[In an April interview] Fr. Altman called President Joe Biden “kind of demented.”
In a radio interview that aired March 24 on The Station of the Cross program “The Simple Truth,” Fr. Altman referred to supporters of abortion as “vermin baby-killers.” …
The parish bulletin at St. James the Less has also called COVID-19 vaccines “experimental” and warned parishioners not to be a “guinea pig.”
A message to parishioners, published in the parish bulletin on April 18 and reported by Madison.com on April 26, called each of the three COVID-19 vaccines used in the United States “experimental” and “NOT a vaccine.”
Last year, Altman said “Baloney!” to the people who accuse him of being too political. He said politics fundamentally should be a moral enterprise, and Catholics have a “duty and obligation to speak up” when politicians act immorally.
“The problem in the world today, as it was in Noah’s day … is that there are way too many people who don’t know the first thing about Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,” he said at the time. “So truth be told, they do not love Him. And so we can see in the many godless politicians out there … they most definitely are not serving Him. They are not fulfilling their purpose in life to know, to love and to serve God.”