A controversial Wisconsin pastor who has openly spread lies about COVID-19 and its vaccines, and flouted public health measures he'd described as "Nazi-esque controls," said he has been asked to resign.
Fr. James Altman, pastor at St. James the Less Roman Catholic Church in La Crosse, revealed during his May 23 homily that the bishop had asked him to step down. The homily was captured by an attendees and posted to YouTube.
"For the record dear family, Bishop [William] Callahan has asked me to resign as pastor as of this past Friday," said Altman to the attendees, after a speech about divisiveness, Jesus and truth.
"So dear family, you have to ask yourself, why is anyone accusing me of being divisive, like as if that's a bad thing?" he said, later arguing that "good Catholics" around the world have supported him.
"But unfortunately, in our cancel culture, if the left whines like a spoiled brat often enough, they succeed in canceling so many voices of truth," he said. "And now, we've seen the newspaper, they're whining like little pansy babies, they are, to cancel me, allegedly because I'm divisive, they like to say. Or as the bishop himself has stated, I am ineffective as a pastor."
The paper to which Altman is referring is the La Crosse Tribune, which has run multiple stories about his inflammatory comments and actions, many tied to the COVID-19 pandemic and politics.
In April, for example, the paper wrote about Altman and the church allowing service attendees to violate basic public health guidelines (such as social distancing and mask-wearing), as well as a flyer claiming the COVID-19 vaccines – which have proven to be both safe and effective – are "an experimental use of a genetic altering substance," a claim that has been debunked by medical experts the world over.
The paper previously covered comments he made on YouTube in which he announced Democrats cannot be Catholics.
And as Newsweek has noted, during a March service, he called COVID-related public health protocols both "godless" and "Nazi-esque controls on all of us and on those we love," adding: "... the lowest, hottest levels [of hell] are the final burning place for those shepherds who were complicit in the godless restrictions."
Studies have shown simple measures such as wearing masks and social distancing help reduce the spread of COVID-19, in turn saving lives.
Altman noted his canon lawyer is challenging the resignation request, and has asked the Diocese of La Crosse for clarification, but for his audience added: "I truly do not know how much longer I will get to serve you."