Wisconsin bishop takes rare step of removing defiant priest – News Vibe24

    Wisconsin bishop takes rare step of removing defiant priest - Times of India
    MADISON: A Bishop of Wisconsin has taken the unusual step of removing a priest from the ministry after making a series of divisive remarks about politics and the pandemic.
    The Diocese of La Crosse said in a statement Friday that Bishop William Patrick Callahan had issued a decree for the immediate removal of Deputy James Altman as pastor of St. James Lis, a parish in the town of La Crasso on the border of Mississauga, Mississauga. (225 km) southeast of Minneapolis. The decree will remain in force indefinitely, the statement said.
    “(The bishop) and his episcopal representatives have spent more than a year, prayerfully and fraternally, trying to reach a resolution on the current public and ecclesiastical concerns of Fr. James Altman’s ministry,” the statement said. “It is the duty of a bishop to ensure that all who serve the faithful are able to do so by uniting and building the Body of Christ.”
    Diocese officials did not issue the decree and did not immediately respond to a request for a copy.
    Altman told the conservative news agency LifeSiteNews.com that he was not surprised by the universal hierarchy trying to silence him.
    “Unfortunately, for the corrupt hierarchy, I will not be silenced by an arbitrary decree, nor will any action against my hierarchical schools disappoint me,” he said.
    Altman did not analyze. He did not respond to an Associated Press email asking for comment Friday morning. His parish answering machine would not receive messages about Altman or the parish secretary.
    Altman stood out before the 2020 presidential election with a fiery YouTube video in which he said Catholics could not be Democrats and that anyone who supported Democrats would burn in hell.
    He has also strongly criticized COVID-19 vaccination efforts and pandemic-related restrictions on church gatherings as “Nazi controls”. His orthodox approach to the masses and sermons led some parishioners to leave St. James, but others galvanized.
    Callahan asked him to resign in May. Altman announced Callahan’s request to his parishioners during the Liturgy, drawing “Nos” headphones from the crowd, a YouTube video of the ceremony shows.
    Altman refused to resign, saying the Catholic hierarchy wanted him to leave because he was telling the truth and calling American bishops “cowards” and “offspring of vipers” in online videos. Supporters across the United States responded quickly, raising more than $ 700,000 through Christian crowdfunding sites in his defense in June.
    Altman can appeal to Callahan’s decree at the Vatican Council for the Clergy, which can support or change Callahan’s decision. A further review of the Vatican is possible if the priest disagrees with the decision of the Congress.
    Requests for the resignation of a priest are not uncommon, but rarely lead to such a high level of denial, say Catholic observers.
    One of the few such cases in the United States came in 2002, when a priest in the Boston Archdiocese refused to drop a charge of sexually abusing a child three decades earlier. Representative D. George Spagnolia took his case to the Vatican, but could not overturn his suspension. He died in 2008.
    Most recently, spokesman for the abortion activist Frank Pavone, head of Priests for Life, asked the Vatican for restrictions imposed on his ministry in 2011 by his bishop in Amarillo, Texas. Pavone managed to reduce the restrictions, relocated from Texas and remains active with Priests for Life.

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