La Crosse Diocese removes controversial priest Father Altman
LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) — The bishop of the Diocese of the La Crosse has removed Father James Altman from his position as pastor at St. James the Less Parish.
Bishop William Patrick Callahan announced Friday that he has issued a decree for the removal of Altman in accordance with canon law. Altman has drawn both detractors and supporters in the past year for his outspoken statements about COVID-19, vaccines and politics.
The decree is effective immediately and lasts for an indeterminate amount of time. It prohibits him from “exercising the function of pastor.”
“Bishop William Patrick Callahan and his diocesan representatives have spent over a year, prayerfully and fraternally, working toward a resolution related to ongoing public and ecclesial concerns of the ministry of Fr. James Altman, Pastor of St. James the Less Parish, La Crosse,” said the Diocese in a written statement. “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.”
Altman drew attention after comparing Democrats to Nazis; saying people could not be both Democrats and Catholics; and criticizing the Diocese for not holding in-person Mass during the COVID-19 pandemic. He has also issued bulletins in his church calling COVID-19 protocols godless and calling on his parishioners not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Altman responded by announcing his intention to fight to keep his position. Altman made the announcement during his homily at St. James the Less Catholic Church, saying, “For the record, dear family, Bishop Callahan has asked me to resign as pastor as of this past Friday — two days ago — because I am ‘divisive’ and ‘ineffective.’”
He launched several crowd-funding pages, which have raised more than $700,000 as of Friday.
The diocese will arrange ongoing pastoral care for the parishoners at the church.
Here is the full statement from the Diocese of La Crosse:
Bishop William Patrick Callahan and his diocesan representatives have spent over a year, prayerfully and fraternally, working toward a resolution related to ongoing public and ecclesial concerns of the ministry of Fr. James Altman, Pastor of St. James the Less Parish, La Crosse. 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. 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. During this time Fr. Altman, must refrain from exercising the function of pastor. The Diocese of La Crosse will be working over the next weeks to arrange for the ongoing pastoral care of the parishioners of St. James the Less 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.
COPYRIGHT 2021 BY NEWS 8 NOW/NEWS 8000. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED.