In disturbing news from La Crosse, Wisconsin, Fr. James Altman, the courageous Catholic pastor who spoke out against abortion in a viral video, faces disciplinary action from his bishop. A report from the Catholic News Agency indicates that earlier this month Bishop of La Crosse, William Patrick Callahan, issued a decree removing Fr. Altman from his post as pastor of St. James the Less Parish.
Fr. Altman’s offense for which he is paying such a price is courageously speaking the truth about abortion. While preaching a homily in August of 2020, Fr. Altman argued forcefully that no faithful Catholic could in good conscience vote for anti-Life Joe Biden. He said, “You cannot be Catholic and be a Democrat. Period. Their party platform absolutely is against everything the Catholic Church teaches. So just quit pretending that you’re Catholic [if you]vote Democrat.”
In the leadup to the 2020 Presidential Election, Fr. Altman courageously spoke the truth: anti-Life President Biden is not a Catholic in good standing because of his public and unrepentant support of the killing of the preborn. Often, the mainstream media refers to Biden’s Catholic faith and presents him as a good Christian.
Fr. Altman called out the hypocrisy of anti-Life politicians who invoke God’s name, even directly in promoting the slaughter of the innocent preborn. He noted that Barack Obama, one of the most anti-Life presidents in our nation’s history, proclaimed, “Thank you, Planned Parenthood. God bless you.” Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion business in America and donor to abortion-supporting politicians, ends the lives of more than 345,000 preborn babies per year.
For his truthful words, Fr. Altman won the enthusiastic support of many Christians across the country. The video of his homily received more than 1.2 million views. Following the viral video, Fr. Altman received public support from several faithful bishops, including Texas’s own Bishop Joseph Strickland of the Diocese of Tyler.
At the time, Bishop Strickland tweeted, “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 … please HEED THIS MESSAGE.”
Previously, according to Fr. Altman, the bishop’s office asked him to resign “because I am divisive and ineffective.” The Catholic News Agency reports, “The priest declined the request that he resign and said he would seek to challenge it canonically.” The recent decree from the bishop leaves Fr. Altman no choice.
A statement from the diocese read, “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.” This echoes criticism that Fr. Altman received that by speaking the truth about abortion he was alienating Catholics who chose to vote for anti-Life Democrats. The statement continued, “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.”
Adding insult to injury, the statement from the diocese noted, “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.”
According to reports, the decree includes the suggestion that Fr. Altman make a 30-day retreat so he has “the possibility to spiritually heal and recharge and to address the issues that caused the issuance of this decree.”
As Fr. Altman previously wrote to his parish when diocesan forces threatened to remove him, “They want my head on a platter. They want my head now, for speaking the truth.”
Bishop Strickland iterated his support for Fr. Altman, saying, “Fr. James Altman is in trouble for speaking the truth.” Bishop Strickland added, “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.”
Fr. Altman’s persecution at the hands of his bishop demonstrates how, even among Christians, speaking the truth about abortion is not welcome. More than ever, fellow Christians must support each other in standing for Life and challenging all Christians to defend the innocent.