The same homilies that made a local priest in a beaten-down part of western Wisconsin an international draw also attracted attacks from the city’s left-wing newspaper.
Internationally popular priest Fr. James Altman was asked to resign from St. James the Less Catholic Church in La Crosse, Wisconsin, Friday.
The priest, who was happily surprised (and noticeably bashful) to grow in national and international status among traditional Catholics over the past year, was asked to resign by Bishop of La Crosse William Callahan Friday, Altman announced at Sunday Mass. Although the letter hasn’t been released, Altman told the parish the charges were that he was ineffective and caused division in the Catholic Church — two charges that are contradicted by fundraising and attendance records set for the parish under the priest’s leadership.
Altman’s homilies have gone viral over the past year, beginning with a fiery broadside against the modern Democratic Party’s pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage, pro-transgender platform, but zeroing in on failures in Catholic Church leadership to teach the catechism, keep the faithful coming to church, police sexual sins and abusers in the clergy, positively affect the culture, maintain a moral influence on politics, and most recently, simply keep their doors open amidst COVID-19 panics and secular leaders’ demands that worship end or be severely curtailed.
“I don’t mind if people have different sets of beliefs, certainly in this country we are entitled to that via the Constitution,” Altman’s told The Federalist Radio Hour in an October 2020 interview, “but what I do mind is when someone lies about it. There are far too many laymen and clergy alike who present error in the message they are giving.”
The same homilies that made a local priest in a beaten-down part of western Wisconsin an international draw also attracted attacks from the city’s left-wing newspaper — and condemnation from his bishop.
“For the record,” Altman said in his Pentecost Sunday homily disclosing the letter and addressing its charges, “through my efforts at preaching the truth, somehow — very unintended — the truth has gone ‘viral’ over the past 11 months and people all over the globe, as far away as Borneo, [Italy] have written over 4,000 letters and cards — more than that in emails — all saying the same thing: ‘We’re starving out here.’”
In his Sunday homily, he announced he has retained a canon law attorney and intends to appeal the decision to the Vatican. In the meantime, he hopes to appoint a parish administrator to take charge of the parish while he remains “a pastor without duties until the appeal goes through Rome, which could take upwards of a year.”
As of Monday night, a donation site set up to raise money for Altman’s canon defense had raised more than $136,000 — far surpassing its goal of $20,000.
Altman most recently angered the local paper (and the bishop) byopening the doors of his church wide on Easter Sunday, allegedly not enforcing mask mandates, and by criticizing secular leaders who tried to close churches, shut down society, and demand all Americans receive the novel, emergency COVID-19 vaccine. His preaching has been especially targeted at those Catholic clergy who have joined forces with the secular leaders and even closed their own churches in a time of disease and confusion.