Congregation shouts horrified ‘No!’ as priest reveals he’s been asked to resign over COVID defiance

A Wisconsin priest who has faced criticism for his defiance of COVID-19 restrictions and his vocal skepticism on the pandemic and vaccine told his congregants last weekend he has been asked to step down.

The Rev. James Altman told his flock at St. James the Less Catholic Church in La Crosse, Wisconsin on Pentecost Sunday that the Bishop of the La Crosse diocese, William Callahan, has asked him to resign — a request that Altman will be challenging with his canon lawyer.

“For the record, dear family, Bishop Callahan has asked me to resign as pastor as of this past Friday,” he told his congregants, “because I am ‘divisive’ and ‘ineffective.’”

Emphatic cries of “no!” and what sounded like more lengthily worded objections to the notion that their flock’s shepherd would be stepping down could be heard from the pews in a YouTube video of Sunday’s mass: