Update in the Local Paper + Father Altman

I appreciate Bill’s very good report. To be clear, though, my appeals haven’t completely run out.

Bishop Knestout has petitioned the Vatican to expel me from the priesthood. I am fighting the bishop’s petition, with the help of a canon lawyer.

Please pray. If you want to help me pay my canon lawyer, click HERE.

My friend Father James Altman of the diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin, has now been suspended from sacred ministry, like myself.

Our cases are quite different. We have different personalities. I can’t say that I agree with everything my friend says. And he certainly doesn’t agree with everything I say or don’t say.

Be all that as it may, I found this part of his interview yesterday with John Henry Westen to be quite moving (starting at 15:15):

Father Altman and I have this much in common: We have suffered severe penalties without due process. What exactly did he do or say that required a suspension of his priestly ministry? What did I do or say? The authorities over us have never specified with any precision these “offenses,” for which we have been so severely punished.

That is not fair.

The Church is a mysterious web of relationships. By the grace and power of God, we parish priests form relationships with our people, and those relationships run very deep.

Under circumstances like this, any unilateral and arbitrary exercise of bureaucratic authority will inevitably wound peoples’ souls. Those wounds may never heal in this lifetime.

Parishioners in Rocky Mount and Martinsville speak of the parishes being “cursed” by what the bishop and his henchmen did here last spring. Now another parish in Wisconsin will have to live under a similar curse.

As I mentioned, I do not agree with everything that my friend Father Altman says. If I had been his parishioner, I would have disagreed with him on certain points, just like many of my parishioners have disagreed with me, over the years.

The Catholic Church has to be a place where people can disagree with each other and still receive the sacraments together, kneeling next to each other in peace and mutual love. Our minds simply do not comprehend the mystery that we share at the altar. So anyone who would propose to “police” the boundary lines has to tread lightly.

Also: there has to be room for us priests to be our individual selves.

When we priests have criticisms of managerial decisions made by our superiors in the chain-of-command, we have a right to voice those criticisms. Criticizing management decisions does not involve breaking communion with Holy Mother Church. The bishops ≠ Christ’s Church.

I don’t know the bishop of La Crosse, Wisconsin. But it seems to me that he has made a power play that will wound a lot of people, without any real benefit coming from it.

A year and a half ago, I begged Bishop Knestout to leave me in peace. Just let me do my thing. If my blog posts are the work of a whack-job with a crazy ax to grind, so be it. You can show your strength as a leader by tolerating them. Ignoring them. In the end, the world ignores the work of whack-jobs.

He did not take my advice.

Whack-jobs vent their misguided spleens, and, in the end, the world takes no note of them. But when someone without power criticizes authority, and then authority turns around and punishes the critic arbitrarily, with a merciless power-play… That actually proves the criticism to have been valid in the first place.

8 thoughts on “Update in the Local Paper + Father Altman

  1. Well said (as always) and absolutely correct. All of this horrendous behavior, in my opinion, by Bishop Knestout and by other bishops did not need to take place…it did not need to happen…it only demonstrates to the world, whether Catholic or Protestant, how desperate the hierarchy of the Catholic Church is to hang onto their power, their control, their personal vices, no matter what the cost.
    They do not care about the cost to the faith of the parishioners. They do not care about the cost to the priests who only sought to be true servants of God, to teach the gospel. So, what do they care about? They care about power…their power.
    The love of power, sex and money are powerful motivators…but there is also another: fear. Particularly fear of losing the power and not having complete control and domination over others, and also, fear of the truth being made known.
    Parishioners understand that priests are individuals who have their own personality, their own way of handling things. Priests are not, as you wrote about previously, “trained monkeys.”
    Apparently that message/realization has yet to sink into the minds of so much of the hierarchy. Even worse, if by chance they do understand, they don’t care. They have proceeded unbridled to this point. They are absolutely confident in their power to beat down and ruin any one, parishioner or priest, who dares to cross them.
    But now the world is learning about this abuse—at the price paid by the priests who are being unfairly punished by their bishops.
    So much damage has been done to the Church and to the faithful. So much correction and healing is needed.
    May God’s love and mercy protect the priests, the parishioners, and all those who have been so damaged by the merciless bishops and others in the hierarchy who abuse their power.
    Let us also pray in thanksgiving for those bishops, though their number be few, who defend/support these priests and are true to the faith. May God’s protection be over them also.
    May God give us all continued strength for the battle that still lies ahead.
    Judy Rogers

  2. Being blinded by demonic hatred is not acceptable. Condoning foul behavior is sinful for anyone, but when coming from a priest it is scandalous and grave. Below is something I wrote prior to Fr. Altman demonic rant against our leaders.

    A modern term being thrown around in the Catholic Church in the United States as of late is “Toxic Feminism.” This has become one of the popular catch phrases from self-proclaimed orthodox Catholics as the key source of breakdown in family and morality. Unfortunately, this has manifested into “Toxic Masculinity” in traditionalist circles.

    The most recent example of this comes from Father James Altman, a priest from Wisconsin who disparages women on a frequent basis. His favorite insult is “sweetheart” hurled out in a screeching, condescending tone. Fortunately, and correctly, Bishop William Patrick Callahan stood up against Father Altman’s rhetoric and requested Father Altman to resign as Pastor. In response to this request, Father Altman proceeded to give a homily in front of impressionable adolescent and teenage boys serving on the altar, as well as a full congregation, wherein he utilized the term “pansy babies” to describe his critics. To watch a grown man who was ordained to serve in persona Christi behave in such a boorish manner at the ambo was disturbing. This behavior is unacceptable for anyone, but especially from a man of the cloth. How any bishop could laud Father Altman after this display is dumbfounding.

    In The Imitation of Christ, Thomas Á Kempis relays the following: “How clean should be the hands, how pure the mouth, how holy the body, and how undefiled the heart of the priest, into whom the Author of all purity so often enters. Therefore, from the mouth of a priest, who so frequently receives the Sacrament of Christ, no word but what is holy, truthful and beneficial to others should come forth … To priests in particular are addressed those words in the Law: ‘Be holy, for I am holy, I am the Lord your God (Lev 19:2).’”

    The entire situation with Father Altman reveals a grave problem that is being promulgated throughout the modern Catholic Church in the United States. It is “Toxic Masculinity,” and it is leading to significant bullying and hate speech, especially in social media circles, as well as anti-Christian behavior that has no basis in scripture or the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. Other unfortunate byproducts of this movement are racism, disrespect of women (especially towards religious sisters), an obsession with preserving Anglo-European heritage, an odd preoccupation with appearances and visual stimulation as symbols or signs of holiness, constant negativity towards the Church and her leaders, and the ever-growing heresy that amoral and tactless politicians are the enforcers or saviors of Christianity in our world. This movement is toxic to the Church and to society as a whole.

    Do not get me wrong, there is such a thing as “Toxic Feminism.” It manifests itself in women who believe that they have every right to be an ordained priest in the Catholic Church, which is impossible. As Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI stated most eloquently, “The Church has ‘no authority’ to ordain women. The point is not that we are saying that we don’t want to, but that we can’t.” It is not possible theologically or anthropologically for a woman to become a priest now, or ever. Our Holiness Pope Francis upholds this simple fact in Evangelii Gaudium. Cardinal Luis Ladaria, prefect from the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, affirmed this reality in 2018, by upholding Pope Saint John Paul II’s Ordinatio Sacerdotalis. The door is literally closed on this matter, forever. The matter is no longer debatable. As such, anyone who continues to push this agenda is spreading apostasy.

    Another source of apostasy from “Toxic Feminism” is the continued push towards allowing birth control. This agenda needs to be denounced forcefully as well. Pope Saint Paul VI bravely went against the secular tide in Humanae Vitae. This work has proven to be a prophetic vision of what to expect from the utilization of birth control, including the devaluation and disrespect of women into a vessel to be used for pleasure without the promise of life.

    Let me make this very clear: There is no freedom in taking the life of one’s own children or sexual promiscuity. It is an evil, painful and dark road for many that will never lead to true happiness or goodness in this world. In no way should birth control, abortion, divorce, fornication, sexual impropriety, pornography, purely aesthetic plastic surgery, the neo-pagan cult of the body, or any other sinful act that leads to the devaluation of human life or the idolization of the human form be promoted in our society. For those who have experienced or promoted these tragedies in their lives or in the lives of others, they are welcome to come home to the Church founded by Jesus Christ for healing, mercy and forgiveness as long as they present with goodwill.

    This last area is where “Toxic Masculinity” becomes incompatible with Christianity. Welcoming is not in their vocabulary. Slander, malice and calumny are the common bond for these toxic groups. Their mantra is “God is not nice,” so, in return, they are not nice. Many ignore the Eighth Commandment entirely. Their message is mainly one of hatred without mercy, judgment without love, and unfairly administered admonishments based on political prejudice and personal ideologies over concrete law or facts. Insolence is a badge of honor in their circles. Even their prayers have a negative connotation.

    We see a plethora of politically-driven Novenas and Rosaries throughout the year based on what an individual or groups deem orthodox in lieu of praying for the truth in God’s will to be done, the intentions of our Holy Father and our bishops, or for goodness to prevail. They pray for a Church constructed on their preferences and beliefs. Lately, we see unwarranted talk of being spiritually “deserted” by our bishops and an almost hysterical mania concerning matters with the Covid pandemic, including Father Altman declaring the vaccine “an experimental use of genetic altering substance that modifies your body.”

    Conspiracy theories have no place in Catholicism, yet they are rampant in the Church as of late. There are individuals on social media who constantly harp on abortion and homosexuality, yet have pages full of pornography, foul language, racism, images of hate, lies, conspiracy theories, and attacks on the Church and her leaders. They utilize issues of abortion and homosexuality to divert attention from honest Catholic teachings on matters of immigration or other works of mercy that are incompatible with their personal ideologies. This movement is no more orthodox than pro-choice “Toxic Feminism.” Both are incomplete, personal ideologies that are not wholly compatible with honest Christian dogma.

    To defeat these ever-growing fallacies and heresies, we need to go back to the basics of our faith. We need witness of honest Christian values, clergy who are truly dedicated to their representative role in persona Christi, and the fullness of the teachings of the Ten Commandments and those of Jesus Christ as handed down through the entirety of the Catholic faith. We need to denounce a cherry-picked religion based on fanaticism, paranoia, hysteria, anger, political ideation, individualism, and human constructs. We need men who emulate our great Saints, in and out of the priesthood. We need the clergy and laity to stop obsessing on evil and negativity at every turn, and look towards what is good and holy in our Church.
    If there is any question as to why people no longer believe in the Real Presence of our Lord, look no further than the horrific example set by Father Altman and those like him. They do not represent the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit. The laity need to look at themselves as well, including me. Many who claim to believe in the Real Presence are not setting a good example. The constant negativity, hatred towards our leaders, spiritual malaise, overwhelming despair, and lack of joy do not come from the Spirit of our Lord!

    To sum this up, toxicity is not a solution to toxicity in any form. Sin is never the cure for sin. Trying to defeat “Toxic Feminism” with “Toxic Masculinity” is futile. Recompensing evil for evil is not the way forward. There is only one way, one truth, and one life, and that is through Our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ sent out his Apostles to spread the Good News in him. Jesus Christ showed us how to live our lives loving God and one another. It is about time we started spreading these simple truths with joy to this broken world! Jesus Christ is more than nice! His love transcends anything we can comprehend on this sinful earth, and his love endures forever.

    Continued prayers for you to come home.

    1. You make some really helpful points here, Cynthia. Thank you. I appreciate the keen analysis.

  3. Cynthia pegs the problem exactly. You are choosing to associate yourself with some very unsavory characters.

    That said, based on the article, I would suggest finding a backup plan quickly. The economy is quite good and companies are hiring, so you should be able to find a job, which will provide you with income. Because of Obamacare, most companies will provide full-time jobs with health insurance, so you will find some will want to keep you on the fringe of part-time so they don’t have to pay for health insurance. You should keep that in mind. As far as pension goes, well, most companies don’t provide pensions anymore. You’ll have to save for retirement out of your income and hopefully your company will match a little. At your age, if you don’t have any retirement savings, you are going to be way behind, so I would look to save at least 20% of your income for retirement. You will get some social security too, but there will be attempts to reduce that in the future by some politicians.

    So, get your resume together and get out there looking for some work. Good luck!

  4. Father Mark:
    I continue to watch with increasing distress the pain inflicted on you and those who care about you by the machinations of Bishop Knestout. The defrocking process is both totally unjust and completely in character for the Bishop. It is a path that is both completely predictable and completely lacking in transparency. The inevitable predictability of this action by the one’s in our Church who are entrusted by God with moral guidance of its flock is tragic. It is the actions of a soulless machine grinding souls in its care beneath its feet.
    But focus who care for you, it is deeply personal and distressful to hear in your voice and to witness your frustration the consequences of this action. We share your pain and frustration with the actions of the Church.
    For me personally, this process is the denouement of a long process of losing faith in the institution of the Church authorities. The authorities have chosen to make themselves a moral irrelevancy in my life which continually seem imbued with hypocrisy. Of course, this is distinct from my continued faith in and practice of the teachings of Christ and of the blessing and graces God has bestowed on us in the Eucharist and the other sacraments. Perhaps this feeble attempt to divorce my spiritual , intellectual and emotional life as a faithful Church-going Catholic from the hypocrisy of its failed leadership is its own form of hypocrisy.
    Perhaps it is hypocrisy on my part to try to make this separation. But it would be hollow on my part, as it must be for you, to not listen to my conscience, the voice of God, speaking to me about the difference between right and wrong. We are not, as you said “trained monkeys.”
    On a more personal level, and independent of its reflection on the moral ambiguities of some Church authorities, I deeply miss your presence in Mass and your moral guidance. For me it always seem to speak directly to my concerns and point the way to Christ. In a lifetime as a Catholic, and if we are fortunate, we find a few priests that for which shine a light more closely on Christ’s spiritual path that we hope to follow. You will always be such a priest for me no matter what the Church rules.
    Yours in Christ, Tony

  5. Father mark… i do know what altman said that at least in the public eye was what should have gotten him removed from ministry…. It was from very different reasons than the reasons knestout appears to be after you…im sure there is more to it …. But i also know many priests that are worried about him because he has changed so much….

    For better or worse. People will always look at the company you keep…. If you align yourself with multiple priests who are laicized i truly fear your chances with the vatican will become nothing but dust….

    Please know all of this is said out of a deep deal of respect…we may not always agree on the process or details but i certainly still continue to pray your faculties will be reinstated….

  6. Wow Cynthia, this is exactly the way I’ve been feeling, but I don’t have your eloquent writing ability. I’ve been trying so hard to build a bridge between those in our parish who are the self proclaimed “Church Militant” and those who are not. It’s been a terribly trying couple of months. I’m going to share your response with some people, hopefully it will help them see the blessing of unity in our Church, and the errors of their line of thinking.

    God Bless

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