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La Crosse Bishop to Correct Racist Priest Who said ‘Catholics Can’t Be Democrats’

La Crosse Bishop to Correct Racist Priest Who said ‘Catholics Can’t Be Democrats’ September 9, 2020

Roman Catholic Bishop William Patrick Callahan, OFM Conv, Mdiv. Source, Wikimedia Commons.

Bishop William Callahan acknowledged that Father James Altman has inflicted a “wound” on the Church with his ranting political homilies.

Bishop Callahan said that he is going to apply “Gospel principles” in his dealings with Fr Altman by reasoning with him first.

The bishop specifically mentioned an explosive YouTube video in which Father Altman demonized a number of people and said “You can’t be a Catholic and be a Democrat. Period.”

The article I read didn’t mention whether or not the bishop would “reason” with Fr Altman about his racist homilies in which he claimed there is no such thing as systemic racism and, even worse, in which he belittled lynchings. 

I can attest to the fact that these homilies were “wounding.” Altman’s racist venom hit me personally as a direct challenge to my faith and trust in the holiness of the Church. The thing that gave me balance was the reality of the good pastors I have and have had, and the kind, responsive bishops I know.

Even though I knew that Father Altman was speaking directly against Church teaching and that what he said mocked the sanctity of human life, it was exceedingly painful to hear him say it. Priests who behave like this weaken the teaching authority of the Church. They shatter its moral voice.

I’m very glad that Bishop Callahan has stepped in. It remains to be seen if Father Altman will accept his bishop’s direction, or if he will go rogue as so many of these political priests seem to be doing.

The attention right wing demagogue priests receive, the money many of them end up making, and the thrill they obviously feel when they hurt people is addictive. Evil is always addictive.

We’ll see if Father Altman pulls back in his rhetoric and starts preaching the Gospels instead of right wing hate politics.

A complicating factor is that Bishop Strickland of Tyler Texas has come out in support of Fr Altman’s statement that Catholics can’t be Democrats. The way he worded his Twitter post, it sounded more like a blanket endorsement than anything else. Here is what he said:

As the Bishop of Tyler I endorse Fr Altman’s statement in this video. My shame is that it has taken me so long.  Thank you Fr Altman for your COURAGE. If you love Jesus & His Church & this nation…pleases HEED THIS MESSAGE

Bishop Strickland is bishop in a diocese with a lot of black people. I know because I have heard the witness of people who were taken to lynchings as children that lynchings occurred not too far from where Bishop Strickland now resides.

The Bishop needs to consider carefully if a bishop of the Catholic Church should endorse Father Altman’s heavily politicized racist rhetoric.

Read Bishop Calahan’s full statement here.

From Catholic News Agency:

.- After a Wisconsin priest said in a viral video that no Catholic can be a Democrat, the priest’s bishop said he will attempt fraternal correction and acknowledged that the priest had inflicted a “wound” upon the Church. A Texas bishop, however, doubled down Wednesday on his support for the priest.

“I am applying Gospel principles to the correction of Fr. Altman. ‘If your brother does something wrong to you, go to him. Talk alone to him and tell him what he has done. If he listens to you, you have kept your brother as a friend. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two others with you to talk to him.’ (Mt 18:15-16).”

“I have begun this process, not in the bright light of the public arena, but as the Gospel dictates, in private,” Bishop William Callahan of La Crosse said in a Sept. 9 statement.

“Canon law indicates that before penalties are imposed, we need to ensure that fraternal correction, rebuke or other means of pastoral solicitude will not be sufficient to repair the scandal,” the bishop added, in reference to canon 1341 of the Church’s Code of Canon Law.

Fr. James Altmann, a priest of La Crosse, gained attention after an Aug. 30 video was published on YouTube, in which the priest said that “You can not be Catholic and be a Democrat. Period.”

In the ten-minute video, which has been viewed on YouTube more than 400,000 times, the priest said that he had “crunched the numbers,” and “I came up with a pretty close approximation of how many Catholics voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012. Zero.”


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