Fr. James Altman said he is corresponding with other conservative priests who have been targeted by their bishops about a strategy for fighting back.
“They don’t realize we’re going to get together and say enough is enough. They don’t get it yet. They don’t have enough brains in their heads, some of these shepherds of the Church,” Altman told Alpha News Wednesday night.
The popular La Crosse, Wisconsin priest was asked to resign by Bishop William Callahan late last month for being “divisive and ineffective.” Altman is working with a canon lawyer to fight the request, and two fundraisers launched on his behalf have now raised $683,900.
Altman said he plans to share the money with other priests who are “being assaulted by these tyrants.” He said what’s happening to him is straight from the “playbook” of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
“It’s like the bishops’ playbook. The USCCB has their playbook so when you see all these priests around the country that are celebrating the traditional mass, that are being faithful to the unchanged and unchangeable truth, when you see them being separated out, targeted individually … they’re knocking them off one by one,” Altman explained.
That’s especially true of the Diocese of Rockford in Illinois, where more than 800 people gathered last week to protest Bishop David Malloy’s history of exiling traditionalist priests, according to Church Militant.
He said conversations among targeted priests have already started.
“They didn’t just start happening. We’re well aware of what’s going on and they’re in for a surprise,” he said. “They’re such little tyrants, most of them.”
Altman also responded to his bishop’s claim that he’s “divisive and ineffective,” calling out the hypocrisy of such a claim.
“To say that I’m ineffective is absolutely stupid. I’ll tell you what’s ineffective: when you have 75% of Catholics who don’t go to church anymore. Oh, you’re really effectively teaching those people the faith, aren’t you? Or 80% now don’t believe in the real presence. How about that for ineffective?” he said.
He said he welcomes the “divisive” label but argued that he’s actually “uniting people of faith.”
“To call me ineffective is a farce, but that’s the USCCB playbook,” he said. “These are the little buzzwords, which are ill-defined, amorphous, ambiguous words that they then try to use against you. Bring it on. Hey, the gloves are dropped. They dropped a long time ago when you started attacking me. I’m divisive and I’m proud of it, and I’m so effective it’s putting you to shame,” he added.
Altman said he actually likes his bishop and has praised him many times in the past for keeping churches in La Crosse open when other dioceses refused to do so.
“He let his priests be pastors to their people,” Altman remarked. “That was the issue that started it all. They locked the churches. As I’ve said so many times, and it just deeply moves me every single time I say it, what kind of father won’t feed his child?”
Other priests were scared to keep their doors open because “they’d come down on them like they’re coming down on me now,” Altman claimed.
“If you’re a father of the Church and you don’t feed your child, get out. Get out because you’re not Catholic. It just makes me sick.”
Later in the interview, the outspoken priest referenced saints such Aloysius Gonzaga and Damien of Molokai who risked their lives to administer the sacraments to people during times of plague and illness.
“That’s what we’re called to do, to sacrifice ourselves, like Christ did, for our people,” he said. “How dare they stand in the way of that.”
A group of concerned Catholics plans to hold a rally for Fr. Altman later this month in White Bear Lake, Minnesota, at which Altman will be speaking.