The Diocese of La Crosse announced Friday that it was removing a controversial La Crosse priest from his role as pastor.
Father James Altman will no longer serve as pastor of St. James the Less, a Catholic church on La Crosse’s north side, after he delivered a slew of political messaging and misinformation that has caused pushback.
“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 Diocese said in its statement.
“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,” it said.
In May, Altman was asked to resign by the Diocese after he shared a number of messages about race, political affiliation, sex and gender, and misinformation about COVID-19 and the vaccine over the course of the last year.
Altman refused the request to resign and stated during a sermon that he had hired a canon lawyer to fight his defense.
Through crowdfunding sites, Altman has received over $722,000 in support.
Last September, the Tribune first reported on a video from Altman posted and produced by a right-wing media outlet where he claimed that Catholics could not be Democrats, calling them “Godless” imposters who are going to hell.
The Diocese initially responded saying it would handle the matter internally.
Since then, Altman has been featured by a number of other conservative and religious media, and has gained a worldwide following. He received more backlash in April for issuing a pamphlet to his parish urging them not to be “guinea pigs” of the COVID-19 vaccine and for loose precautions against the virus during services.
Shortly after Friday’s announcement, Altman told conservative outlet LifeSiteNews that he was being cancelled.
“I am not surprised that the hierarchy boldly continues to try to cancel a voice of truth,” Altman said. “As [the] bishop stated publicly, I speak the undeniable truth. Unfortunately for the corrupt hierarchy, I will not be silenced by any arbitrary decree, nor will I be cowed by any action against my priestly faculties. The truth will not be silenced.”
Altman also told LifeSiteNews that Callahan apparently notified him of the news through a mailed note.
The Diocese said it will work in the weeks to come to fill the pastoral needs at St. James the Less Parish.
This story was updated to include more details.
"I am not surprised that the hierarchy boldly continues to try to cancel a voice of truth. As [the] bishop stated publicly, I speak the undeniable truth. Unfortunately for the corrupt hierarchy, I will not be silenced by any arbitrary decree, nor will I be cowed by any action against my priestly faculties. The truth will not be silenced."
Father James Altman in a statement to LifeSiteNews