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Father James Altman, who participated in the first-ever Persecuted Priests Summit at Church Militant, stepped into the spotlight when, ahead of the 2020 election, he proclaimed "You cannot be Catholic and be a Democrat" and again when he urged parishioners not to allow themselves to be used as guinea pigs. His bishop, William Callahan, issued a decree restricting his faculties as a priest — a decision Fr. Altman is appealing through canon law in Rome. He is just one of many canceled priests being aided by the Catholic faithful in part through a rally in Baltimore Nov. 16. Church Militant (a 501(c)4 corporation) is responsible for the content of this commentary.
Most Rev. William J. Callahan (diocese of La Crosse Wisconsin),
I was very upset and disappointed when I read the news that you issued a decree removing Fr. James Altman as pastor of St. James the Less and suspended his faculties as a priest.
I am a firm believer that the Church has not taken a strong enough stance on the issue of abortion. All sins are not equal, and while there are many issues such as caring for the poor, we must first protect the innocent unborn from the slaughterhouses called abortion clinics. Fr. Altman is right to call out politicians who claim to be Catholic yet support abortion. We should not vote for such politicians, and they should not present themselves for Holy Communion. They are public figures who influence millions of other Catholics into thinking abortion is OK. Nobody has the right to choose to kill an innocent human being! Your ministry as a bishop is to protect the unborn babies — "The right to life must be protected with maximum determination," (to quote St. Pope John Paul II). What would Jesus, our Chief Shepherd, do?
This is a very sensitive moral issue in the eyes of Almighty God, and it is too important to not speak boldly in protecting the unborn. Don't let political pressure influence you. Some people in the Church are afraid of what the government would do if the Catholic Church spoke out against pro-abortion candidates. However, if you and the USCCB openly supported pro-life candidates in the White House and in Congress, these pro-life elected officials would support the Church's position and defund Planned Parenthood and not the police.
Are you worried about upsetting half the congregation by supporting pro-life candidates? I, for one, would rather have half the Catholics in the pew and only have "true believing" Catholics. The USCCB's silence is disturbing and offensive to pro-life Catholics. Every Catholic I know who is in support of abortion says that they do not believe in abortion for themselves or their families but feel it is the woman's right to choose. What nonsense! It's like saying, "I don't believe in killing, but it is the offending person's right to choose for himself." Of course it's not his right to kill someone! That goes against natural law and divine law. Killing is always wrong, as is abortion. How can anyone defend late-term abortions? The Catholic governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, apparently is OK with it. Is that too OK? Is that not killing? Where can anyone, even non-Catholics, draw the line? Would you give Cuomo Communion? If so, where do you draw the line? Again, what would Jesus do? He would forgive if the person repented, but He would instruct, "Go and sin no more."
Politicians are public figures who, by continuing to support abortion and funding Planned Parenthood, are not agreeing to "sin no more." I know most times when we go to confession we are confessing the same sins, but at least for that moment we are stating that we will not commit those sins again — and then we do. But if we do not intend to repent, we are not making a true and valid confession. Politicians, unless they plan to reverse their position on abortion, are not making a valid confession (if they are even confessing this as a sin). Therefore, they are not in the state of grace and should not be given Holy Communion. To make the matter worse, it is not only their souls that are in jeopardy, it is the millions they influence by their actions who can come away with the belief that the Catholic Church is OK with the pro-abortion position since they are giving Communion to these politicians who outwardly and publically support abortion.
I don't mean to be disrespectful, but I must question your position on this matter when you punish a priest who is boldly speaking out on the most important issue of our time. I would hope that you would not only support Fr. Altman but that you would also speak out as boldly as he does in support of the unborn innocent. By removing Fr. Altman, this comes across to the laity as if you disagree with his position on abortion and support the pro-abortion Democrat politicians and their obstinate refusal to submit to the Church's perennial teachings on abortion. I hope this is not what you want the public to believe. From what I can see, we need more priests like Fr. Altman.
Please do what's right in the eyes of God: Reverse your decision and reinstate Fr. Altman. Please stand up for the unborn. It is time for the Church to make this one of the most important issues, if not the most important issue and not worry about offending the government or Catholics who support abortion. You are charged with leading your flock, not appeasing those who would otherwise disagree with this most important teaching. We can never tolerate an intrinsic evil.
Sincerely in Christ,
Jesus & Anita Romero