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La Crosse bishop removes controversial priest from pastoral role


LA CROSSE, Wis. (WQOW) - The controversial priest from La Crosse who used his sermons to speak out against masks and vaccines while criticizing Democrats has been removed by Bishop William Callahan.

Father James Altman first made headlines last fall before the election when he said Catholic Democrats would "face the fires of hell" if they didn't repent.

Since then, Altman has used the pulpit to call the pandemic a "hoax" and told parishioners not to be a "guinea pig" by getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

In May, Callahan asked for Altman to step down as pastor at St. James The Less Parish in La Crosse. Altman said he wouldn't.

In a statement released Friday, Callahan says his job as bishop is to build up the Body of Christ.

"Bishop William Patrick Callahan and his diocesan representatives have spent over a year, prayerfully and fraternally, working toward a resolution related to ongoing public and ecclesial concerns of the ministry of Fr. James Altman, Pastor of St. James the Less Parish, La Crosse. The obligation of a Bishop is to ensure that all who serve the faithful are able to do so while unifying and building the Body of Christ. Bishop William Patrick Callahan, in accordance with the norms of canon law, has issued a Decree for the removal of Fr. James Altman as Pastor of St. James the Less Parish. The Decree is effective immediately and for an indeterminate period of time. During this time Fr. Altman, must refrain from exercising the function of pastor.

The Diocese of La Crosse will be working over the next weeks to arrange for the ongoing pastoral care of the parishioners of St. James the Less Parish.

The Bishop and all the leadership of the Diocese asks for the consideration of respect, safety and prayers at this time for all involved."

Diocese of La Crosse statement

Clint Berge

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