Diocese of La Crosse Statement on Father James Altman

Diocese of La Crosse Statement on Father James Altman May 25, 2021

Yesterday, the Diocese of La Crosse, led by Bishop William Callahan, released a statement on the recent request made by the Bishop to Father James Altman to resign as Pastor of Saint James the Less Parish.

In my previous post, I mistakenly stated that Father Altman had already resigned.  I listened to the whole homily, and wrongly concluded he had resigned in response to the request.  It has now become abundantly clear that he has not resigned and will fight the request from his Bishop.

The praise Father Altman receives from many Catholics can be understood in the environment we are currently experiencing.  There is much anger and frustration toward Bishops collectively.  Faithful Catholics feel betrayed and seek a strong voice to guide them in turbulent times.  In the end, Father Altman and I would likely agree that leaders in the Church need to speak with greater clarity and conviction.  I find regrettable however that Father Altman mixes this need with COVID, vaccines, and partisan politics.  In the end, his tone, inaccuracies and use of hyperbole will not help him.  I do not believe he is going down a path that will bring renewal – it will only create angry people.  Saint Francis and Saint John Vianney remain examples of true reformers in the Church through holiness and obedience.

The statement from the Diocese is here below:


Diocesan Statement Regarding Father James Altman

Fr. James Altman has recently made public the request from Bishop William Patrick Callahan that he resign his office of pastor of Saint James the Less Parish in the Diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin, as well as his intent to decline the request. As a result, the Diocese of La Crosse will respond in accordance to the canonical process as needed for the removal of a priest from his office as pastor.

During the past year, concerns have been expressed related to the ministry of Fr. James Altman, a priest in the Diocese of La Crosse. Bishop Callahan of the Diocese of La Crosse, and canonical representatives have worked to fraternally and privately address those concerns. The process has been pastoral and administrative with a desire toward a just resolution among all parties.

The ministry of pastor was instituted in the Church not for the benefit of the one to whom it is entrusted, but for the pastoral and sacramental care of those for whom it is conferred. The salvation of souls takes precedence over the stability of the pastor in office when these two values come into direct conflict. Although attempts were made to allow Fr. Altman the opportunity to respond to fraternal correction, a resolution of this situation has been unsuccessful.

It is important to note that this is not a penal remedy but a pastoral remedy. Bishop Callahan asks for your prayers for Fr. Altman, for the congregation of St. James, and the faithful of the Diocese of La Crosse and beyond. While any change made to the ministry of a pastor is difficult, it is done with the hope that God’s work of justice, reconciliation and healing may be realized in the Body of Christ for a positive outcome.

The Diocese of La Crosse asks for the consideration of respect, safety and prayers at this time for all involved.

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