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The late Cdl. Karl Lehmann.Sean Gallup / Getty Images

October 9, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — Cardinal Karl Lehmann, one of the members of the so-called “Sankt Gallen Group,” has now been accused by experts of having covered up for abuse cases in his diocese of Mainz, Germany. Together with his predecessor Hermann Volk, Lehmann, who died in 2018, is accused of moving priests who were accused of sexual abuse into other parishes. “Clear indications in the parishes were ignored and played down,” according to Ulrich Weber, the head of the new Mainz abuse study.

On Wednesday, October 7, Weber, together with the current bishop of Mainz, Peter Kohlgraf, presented the interim results of his study that the diocese had started in 2019. Weber is a lawyer who had previously investigated the choir of the Regensburg singers. This Mainz study is to be published in 2020 and covers all abuse cases since 1945 up to 2019. So far, there have been found 422 victims and 273 accused persons in the diocese, but further research and confirmation of the accusations need to be done.

It is clear that under both Volk and Lehmann, “the diocesan leadership often did not have an adequate response to relevant reports,” Weber explained during a press conference, according to the Catholic website Domradio. Even severe accusations of abuse merely led to small sanctions on the part of the diocese. In addition, if one of the accused priests was sent to another diocese, no information was passed on concerning his deeds. Victims, abusers, and those who informed the diocese about sexual abuse were also instructed to remain silent. Weber added that the personnel files were kept in such a way that they contributed to the obfuscation of the abuse cases.

Karl Lehmann was the bishop of Mainz from 1983 until 2016; his predecessor, Hermann Volk, had ruled the diocese from 1962 until 1982. Volk, like Lehmann, was a progressivist theologian and had participated at the Second Vatican Council, promoting the idea of ecumenism and friendship with Protestants. Lehmann served as an assistant to Father Karl Rahner at the Second Vatican Council. These two men were responsible for this mishandling of abuse cases for more than fifty years.

According to the report of the local newspaper Allgemeine Zeitung, Weber insisted that both Lehmann and Volk are to be accused of “misconduct with regard to cases of sexual violence.” In one case, one paid the legal costs for an abuser, Weber explained, and in another, one downplayed the gravity of the actual sexual abuse. “Often, the response to abuse cases was to place the abuser priest into another parish.” This took place even when the “pedophile inclinations were already the object of conversations in the city,” he added.

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PETITION UPDATE (7/9/2021)

Father James Altman was informed late last week that he has been removed as pastor of St. James the Less parish, and that his priestly faculties have been suspended indefinitely.

Please Click Here to WATCH LifeSite's exclusive interview with Fr. Altman, and Click Here to READ more about this turn of events.

As Bishop William J. Callahan’s decree explains, this means he is forbidden from celebrating “The Holy Eucharist” with any members of the faithful present, except for his elderly parents. He is also “no longer allowed to preach,” administer baptism, or assist at marriages.

Altman said that he wasn’t issued restrictions from hearing Confessions or Anointing of the Sick.

The decree also states that he is to continue to live within the Diocese of LaCrosse, where he has been instructed to meet with the Vicar for Clergy at least once a month, and has been “invited to begin” a month-long “spiritual retreat” to help him to “spiritually heal” and “address the issues that caused the issuance of this decree.”

The order states it is in effect as long as “cause” is present, but it does not specify what the cause is. Callahan said he asked Altman to resign on May 23 for being “divisive and ineffective.”

Altman first triggered backlash from his bishop when his video “You cannot be a Catholic and a Democrat. Period” went viral last year. Altman shared that in response to this, his office “got the most vile, despicable phone calls, letters” and “some terrible, really foul messages.”

Callahan criticized Altman at the time for his “manner and tone,” to which Altman countered, “what about the manner and tone of the 10,000 babies that are chopped up last Saturday?”

“What I would hope would always come through no matter what people think about my manner and tone, is that they would recognize that what’s coming through there is God’s love,” Altman told LifeSiteNews. “A love that I recognize because He’s loved me, and I didn’t deserve that.”

“If I seem angry at times, it has nothing to do with me, it has to do with the people. And I asked the question recently, how can they love? If you love, how can you not feed your children?”

In late April, Altman chided the U.S. bishops for needlessly shutting churches and denying the faithful sacraments during the COVID-19 pandemic, saying the hierarchy showed “an abundance of cowardice.”

In his interview with LifeSite, Altman alluded to the fact that some don’t like seeing him “upset.”

“I’m thinking well, if you’re denying my child food, the Bread of Life – [Bishop Fulton J. Sheen] said, if you can’t get angry about stuff like that then you can’t love either. Because greater love has greater anger towards those things that are contrary to the salvation of eternal souls, which is the only thing that matters in the end,” said Altman.

"I don’t care what they do to me, honestly, in the end… what troubles me is the interference with the feeding of God’s children, which is through word and through the sacrament. Both of which were denied to people over the past 15 months."

Please continue to SIGN and SHARE this petition, and to continue to contact the Diocese of LaCrosse's Chancery Office, to politely voice your opposition to the removal of Fr. Altman from his parish. The Chancery's phone number is: 608-788-7700.

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PETITION UPDATE (5/24/2021) -

Father James Altman, the Wisconsin priest whose video message last fall "You can’t be a Catholic and a Democrat" went viral and who has fearlessly admonished the U.S. bishops for shutting churches and denying the faithful Sacraments during the COVID-19 crisis, announced on Pentecost Sunday that his bishop has asked him to resign for being "divisive and ineffective."

Please CLICK HERE to READ LifeSiteNews' latest article related to Fr. Altman's ongoing persecution, just to continue shepherding his flock.

Bishop William P. Callahan began threatening the outspoken priest with "canonical penalties" in September, even as public support for the priest surged among rank-and-file Catholics around the country and the world.

And now, a group called 'Faithful America' is proudly boasting responsibility for taking down Fr. Altman, but Faithful America are not even a Catholic organization!

Thankfully, Fr. Altman says he is working with a canon lawyer to resolve this matter.

WATCH Fr. Altman's Sunday sermon in which he announces the bishop's decision to ask for his resignation.

"In response my canon lawyer asked for clarification – asked for the justification and a chance to review what was in my file that suggested I was so divisive and ineffective,” explained Altman. “And I say all this only because, I'm no expert on canon law, but understand only that while we are contesting bishop's request — and we are — he could in theory appoint a parish administrator whilst I remain a pastor without duties until the appeal goes through Rome, which could take up to a year or more."

Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas, offered his support for Altman via Twitter.

Please continue to SIGN and SHARE this petition with your like-minded family and friends.

And, after signing and sharing, please take a minute to contact the LaCrosse Diocese to politely voice your support for Fr. Altman, and against leftist pressure groups like 'Faithful America.' Please ask Bishop Callahan to prayerfully reconsider his decision and allow Fr. Altman to remain as pastor of St. James the Less parish.

The phone number for the diocese office is: 608.788.7700

Thank you!

PETITION UPDATE (9/15/2020) -

Just this past weekend a prayer vigil was held outside the Cathedral in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, on behalf of Fr. James Altman, the priest facing Church penalties for saying that you cannot be a Catholic and a Democrat in 2020.

Hundreds of faithful Catholics turn out to pray for Fr. Altman. Though Fr. Altman did use strong language to warn his flock against spiritual perils, what he said about the Democratic Party's platform is true!

Motivated by a deep sense of justice, supporters gathered at the Cathedral to pray for the priest, and for Bishop Callahan to stand by his priest rather than punish him.

"Fr. Altman is a rare breed. He’s a modern-day St. John the Baptist," declared one woman who attended the prayer vigil. "He’s really changed my life and so many others he’s had that impact on. We need more priests who are true shepherds."

Fr. Richard Heilman, who is the founder of the U.S. Grace Force and who was also present to help lead people in prayer during the vigil, had this to say about Fr. Altman: "Bottom line: he loves, loves, loves his flock. And so, like a good shepherd, if he sees the wolves invading, he sounds the warning alarm."

Please consider SIGNING this petition if you have not already signed. And, please SHARE this petition and video with your family, friends and colleagues. Thank you!

If after signing and sharing you wish to make an even greater impact, we encourage you to contact the Diocese of LaCrosse's Chancery Offices to politely let them know that you support Fr. Altman and want to see him continue in his essential ministry.

Diocese of LaCrosse's Chancery Office phone number: 608-788-7700.

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ORIGINAL PETITION TEXT:

Father James Altman, pastor of St. James the Less parish in the Wisconsin Diocese of LaCrosse, has been threatened with canonical punishment by his Bishop, Most Rev. William Patrick Callahan.

Fr. Altman's alleged "offense"?

Stating what every faithful Catholic knows to be true in 2020: "You cannot be a Catholic and a Democrat."

Please SIGN this petition which will go to Bishop Callahan and ask him to stop any canonical proceedings against Fr. Altman.

In a strongly-worded YouTube video, designed to shepherd the faithful out of harm's way (supporting the Democratic Party's evil platform), Fr. Altman states the following:

"Here's a memo to clueless, baptized Catholics out there: You cannot be Catholic and be a Democrat. Period. Their party platform absolutely is against everything the Catholic Church teaches. So, just quit pretending that you're Catholic and vote Democrat. Repent of your support of that party and its platform, or face the fires of Hell..."

Strong stuff to be sure, but Fr. Altman was taking his cue from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (whom he quotes) – the Church has a "duty and obligation" to speak up when politicians act in an immoral way.

In other words, a pastor must give strong warnings, at times, to guide souls away from grave danger, even when the dangers come from politicians or a political party.

When your house is burning down...or, more appropriately, when someone is attempting to burn your house down, it's time to dispense with the niceties of politically correct language.

And, as Fr. Altman suggests, the Democratic Party's evil platform which promotes the desecration of God's plan for humanity is, in effect, trying to burn down our house (i.e., the Church).

Not only do the Democrats openly advocate for abortion (i.e., killing innocent human beings), but they also promote the destruction of the natural family and the desecration of human nature in support of the homosexual and transgender agendas.

Remember the following:

  • The Obama-Biden Administration attempted to force the Little Sisters of the Poor to participate in the provision of abortion-inducing drugs and contraception and threatened schools with the loss of federal funding if they wouldn’t let boys in girls’ bathrooms and vice versa.
  • Democratic Senators Kamala Harris and Mazie Hirono grilled a judge, who is a Knight of Columbus, on his membership in the Knights, absurdly suggesting that membership in the Catholic mens' fraternal organization should disqualify someone from sitting on the bench.
  • And, in 2017, the DNC Chairman said that pro-lifers were not welcome in the party.

No faithful Catholic should even think about voting for such a platform. And, the bishops should be on the frontlines, speaking this truth to power.

Thankfully, the Bishop of Tyler, Texas, Most Rev. Joseph Strickland, has come out in support of Fr. Altman's statement, tweeting:

"As the Bishop of Tyler I endorse Fr. Altman’s statement in this video. My shame is that it has taken me so long. Thank you Fr Altman for your COURAGE. If you love Jesus & His Church & this nation...please HEED THIS MESSAGE.”

With this petition, we now ask that Fr. Altman's own bishop, Most. Rev. Callahan, likewise support his priest and stop any canonical proceedings against him.

Devoid of united leadership from the Hierarchy, individual priests must do their best to inform the laity of the mortal dangers on full view in the Democrats' platform.

And, threatening to silence priests for strongly speaking the truth only plays into the hand of those who actually hate what the Church stands for...and who will, if elected, most likely seek to injure, or even eradicate, the Church.

The bishops should know that the legacy of the Democratic Party being the party of the small man and of the Catholic immigrant is now over.

The Democratic Party of today is the party of radical individualism, not the common good. And, rabid support for abortion and the homosexual agenda are practically obligatory.

As such, the Democratic Party is not a friend of the Church and any priest or bishop who thinks otherwise is being deceived, or allowing himself to be deceived or bullied.

This is not just an abstraction! This is a serious threat to Christianity and their party's platform needs to be met with strong opposition.

Thank you for SIGNING this petition to the bishop of LaCrosse, Wisconsin, Bishop Callahan, asking him to support Fr. Altman rather than bringing any canonical proceedings against him.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

'Bishop threatens ‘canonical penalties’ for priest whose viral video warned Catholics can’t be Democrats': https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/bishop-threatens-canonical-penalties-for-fr-altman

YouTube Video - 'Fr. James Altman: You cannot be Catholic & a Democrat. Period.': https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-7eoTN2vNM

Statement regarding Fr. James Altman from Bishop Callahan: https://diolc.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Statement-Father-James-Altman-090920.pdf

'Bishop Strickland echoes priest: ‘You cannot be Catholic and be a Democrat’': https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/bishop-strickland-echoes-priest-you-cannot-be-catholic-and-be-a-democrat

**Photo Credit: Screen capture from Fr. James Altman's YouTube video on Alpha News MN

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Another report of the Allgemeine Zeitung quotes Weber as pointing out that Cardinal Lehmann, after new guidelines concerning sexual abuse were established in 2002, followed them. He was the bishop of Mainz from 1983 until 2016. But Weber asked: “How can it be that the diocesan leadership for the first time responded to incidents [of sexual abuse] after there was pressure on the part of the public and in the meda?” He added: “How can it be that over such a long period of time, there was no palpable and authentic compassion for the victims?”

Kohlgraf was praised by Weber as fully cooperating in the investigation of the history of sexual abuse in the diocese, and Kohlgraf himself said the task is now to face earlier mistakes that took place under the prominent former bishops Volk and Lehmann. “We will not avoid responding to this task. In this regard, there exists no taboo in the diocese.”

Cardinal Lehmann was a member of the so-called Sankt Gallen Group that sought to liberalize the Catholic Church, loosening the Church’s stance on the question of “remarried” divorcés, a so-called female priesthood, and sexual morality. They also wished to promote collegiality and ecumenism, topics that were highlighted at the Second Vatican Council.

Lehmann is not the only member of the Sankt Gallen Group being accused of mishandling sexual abuse. Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor was accused by a British woman of having abused her, and he was also shown to have allowed an abuser priest to work in an airport chapel, where he went on abusing a teenage boy with learning disabilities. Murphy O’Connor treated another abuser priest in a similarly lenient way.

Finally, the prominent Sankt Gallen member Cardinal Godfried Danneels was caught on tape counseling the nephew of Belgian bishop Roger Vangheluwe, who had abused him, to remain silent and not to bring charges against his uncle.

These examples clearly show that a laxening of the Church's doctrinal and moral teachings leads to a laxer response to sin. In this case, this attitude of leniency toward sin had grave effects on many victims of sexual abuse.

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Dr. Maike Hickson was born and raised in Germany. She holds a PhD from the University of Hannover, Germany, after having written in Switzerland her doctoral dissertation on the history of Swiss intellectuals before and during World War II. She now lives in the U.S. and is married to Dr. Robert Hickson, and they have been blessed with two beautiful children. She is a happy housewife who likes to write articles when time permits.

Dr. Hickson published in 2014 a Festschrift, a collection of some thirty essays written by thoughtful authors in honor of her husband upon his 70th birthday, which is entitled A Catholic Witness in Our Time.

Hickson has closely followed the papacy of Pope Francis and the developments in the Catholic Church in Germany, and she has been writing articles on religion and politics for U.S. and European publications and websites such as LifeSiteNews, OnePeterFive, The Wanderer, Rorate Caeli, Catholicism.org, Catholic Family News, Christian Order, Notizie Pro-Vita, Corrispondenza Romana, Katholisches.info, Der Dreizehnte,  Zeit-Fragen, and Westfalen-Blatt.

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