“Catholics who support Democrats face fires of hell”


A priest removed from his ministry has a history of making controversial and incendiary remarks.

Bishop William Patrick Callahan’s decree restricts Fr James Altman from his ministry for an undetermined length of time, according to a statement from the La Crosse diocese.

Descriptions of Altman speak of “a rogue Wisconsin priest” who is a “firebrand” and “orthodox”.

He flouted COVID-19 protocols at the height of the pandemic, has derided liberals as “left-wing fascist Nazis” and warned that Catholics who support the Democratic Party could “face the fires of hell.”

Altman’s orthodox approach to Mass and sermons has reportedly “driven some parish members to leave St. James but has galvanized others”.

His views are backed by Texan Bishop Joseph Strickland, who has repeatedly praised Altman’s ministry and endorsed his viral video claiming faithful Catholics cannot be Democrats.

“Fr. James Altman is in trouble for speaking the truth,” Strickland wrote on Twitter on May 24. “He inspires many to keep the faith during these dark days. Let us pray for him.”

Both Strickland and Altman have flouted COVID-19 protocols and voiced opposition to vaccines, while both the Vatican and the U.S. bishops’ conference have made repeated efforts to encourage Catholics to get vaccinated.

Callahan asked him to resign in May. Altman announced Callahan’s request to his parishioners during Mass. A YouTube video of the ceremony shows the announcement drew audible “Nos” from the crowd.

Altman told the crowd the bishop had labeled him as “divisive and ineffective”.

Despite Callahan’s efforts to rein him in, Altman has continued to engage in divisive behavior in public defiance of his bishop.

He raised nearly $700,000 through online crowdfunding campaigns to support his appeal, which ultimately failed.

Callahan’s new decree says Altman is only allowed to celebrate Mass in private and is barred from preaching. He has been instructed to take a 30-day spiritual retreat to “give him the possibility to spiritually heal and recharge and address the issues that caused the issuance of this decree.”

A canon lawyer says a pastor has particular rights and responsibilities. To have a priest removed, the bishop must have a proper cause and follow a particular process.

“The cause here is for disturbing ecclesiastical communion,” he says.

Altman can appeal Callahan’s decree to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy, which can uphold or change Callahan’s decision. A further Vatican review is possible if the priest disagrees with the Congregation’s decision.


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