by Hilary White

Fr AltierST. PAUL-MINNEAPOLIS, May 16, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Fr. Robert Altier of the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis, after his public objections to a diocesan sex education program, has been removed from his position as assistant at St. Agnes parish and demoted to assistant chaplain at a nursing home. The Desert Voice website said that Fr. Robert Altier would obey Archbishop Harry Flynn’s order to leave his thriving parish ministry.

Fr. Altier was ordered in March to cease publishing his homilies on Desert Voice and to stop his appearances on local radio after he made his objections to the diocesan Protection of Children and Youth Initiative program, VIRTUS, that includes the notorious Talking About Touching (TAT) program for children. The homilies were removed by the site’s moderators who said that people from around the world regularly read and praised them for their eloquence and adherence to Catholic orthodoxy.

Fr. Altier was also popular in the parish of St. Agnes for spending many hours in the confessional and for his course, Fundamentals of Catholicism that he offered to about 150 laity each year and is responsible for many conversions. The nursing home, Regina Medical Center in Hastings, Minnesota, is a 61 bed facility already served by a priest and a sister who will be retaining their positions and has only one scheduled Mass per day. The Archdiocese is currently in the midst of a vocation crisis and has approximately 12 parishes that lack a priest.

Local Catholics say that Fr. Altier has been singled out because of his success in warning parents of the danger of VIRTUS and TAT. The Wanderer reported that at a meeting of approximately 200 local Catholic school principals and religious education directors on February 10, 2006, the question was asked, “what was going to be done about local priests that were stirring up the pot about the chancery’s safe-environment initiative.” Sister Fran Donnelly, the Saint Paul-Minneapolis archdiocesan director of the Protection of Children and Youth Initiative, responded that Vicar General Fr. Kevin McDonough, “is getting out a two-by-four,” to deal with the objectors, foremost among whom is Fr. Altier.
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  It was shortly after this, on Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, that Fr. Altier received the message from Flynn silencing him.

In early March, Fr. Altier spoke with the Catholic news site, Spirit Daily, explaining his opposition to VIRTUS. Altier said of the program materials, “These things are nothing short of disgusting, and, if I may say, they completely violate the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church.” Parents, priests and some bishops have said that the VIRTUS program does nothing to stop predators but instead places the burden of protection on young children themselves.

The dedication of the St. Paul-Minneapolis archdiocese to promoting VIRTUS/TAT, has puzzled local Catholics who say it is due to a combination of financial considerations and pressure from the archdiocese’ powerful homosexual clergy interested in pushing the gay agenda.

Elizabeth Schwab, writing for Desert Voice, said it was “interesting that the Archbishop would choose to exclusively promote VIRTUS/TAT when he actually prefers FICC (“Formation in Christian Chastity” a program developed in the diocese of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania).” Schwab points out that the program is endorsed by homosexual advocacy organizations and Planned Parenthood and that some bishops, notably Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln that enjoys one of the lowest rates of priestly sexual abuse of children in the US, refuse to use it.

Read coverage from Desert Voice:
http://www.desertvoice.org/SilencedandExiled.html

Read related coverage from LifeSiteNews.com:
  Silences Faithful Priest for Objecting to Graphic Sex-Ed Program
http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2006/mar/06030602.html

“Talking about Touching” Sex-Ed Opponent Fr. Altier Writes to Spirit Daily
http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2006/mar/06030809.html

Archdiocese Facing Parent Complaints over “Talking about Touching” Sex-Ed Program
http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2006/feb/06022806.html

Read coverage from the Wanderer:
http://thewandererpress.com/a3-9-2006.htm

Contact:
  Archbishop Flynn:
  226 Summit Avenue
  Saint Paul, MN, USA 55102
  (651) 291-4400
communications@archspm.org

His Excellency The Most Reverend Pietro Sambi
  Apostolic Nuncio to the United States
  3339 Massachusetts Ave., N.W.
  Washington, D.C. 20008-3687
  phone: 202-333-7l2l
  fax: 202-337-4036Â

His Eminence Dario Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos
  Prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy
  Piazza Pio XII 3
  00120 Vatican City State
  phone: 011.3906.69.88.4l.5l
  Fax: 011.3906.69.88.48.45Â