Bishop Silences Faithful Priest for Objecting to Graphic Sex-Ed Program

by Hilary White
  SAINT PAUL - MINNEAPOLIS, March 6, 2006 ( – Rev. Robert Altier, associate pastor of St. Agnes Church in St. Paul, Minnesota, has been ordered by his bishop to cease posting his homilies on his website or broadcast his views on the radio. His offense has been his outspoken criticism of a program instituted by his Archdiocese, ostensibly to protect children from sexual abuse.

The program, Talking About Touching, has been widely criticized by parents and concerned clergy as explicit sex education and threatening to the innocence of children. Talking About Touching has, however, received endorsements from Planned Parenthood and other pro-abortion, anti-family advocates.

A notice is posted on Fr. Altier’s website, “In obedient compliance with the expressed written request of Most Reverend Harry J. Flynn, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. Father Altier’s homilies and spiritual presentations can no longer be published on or broadcast on Relevant Radio. This action of the Archbishop is not related to any scandal or sexual misconduct on the part of Father Robert Altier.”

Archdiocesan spokesman, Dennis McGrath confirmed, in an interview with the Star Tribune, Âthat the silencing is not for any impropriety. “Father Altier is an honored priest, and has not committed any improprieties.” McGrath added that Archbishop Flynn will not discuss the issue publicly because it is a “personnel matter, but I surmise that Father Altier’s contrarian position on Virtus is the issue.”

St. Agnes parish is world-renowned as a bastion of traditional liturgy and for the fidelity to the teaching of the Catholic Church of Fr. Altier’s homilies.

“Any communication between a priest and the archbishop is personal and confidential,” McGrath said. “But obviously there is a point of disagreement there someplace in his homilies or some of the things on the radio.”

A spokesman for Catholic Parents Online, an advocacy group trying to persuade the Archbishop to adhere more closely to Vatican norms in areas affecting family life, said the program was a threat to children’s innocence. John Trojack wrote, it “follows secular guidelines in exposing children 18 months or older to sexually explicit descriptions of private body parts and descriptions of sexual situations.” Children, during their “years of innocence (until puberty) . . . must never be disturbed by unnecessary information about sex.”

Catholic Parents Online has scheduled a Lenten retreat day for April 1, featuring three talks and Mass to be celebrated by Fr. Altier.

Talking about Touching is part of the Archdiocese’ Virtus training program and is required of all clergy, deacons, school and parish employees and volunteers who are in regular contact with children, youth and vulnerable adults. The children’s curriculum is taught to children in Catholic schools from pre-school to grade twelve. Pastors who want to use some other program must apply to Archbishop Flynn and the Archdiocese says parents can opt their children out of the curriculum.

The silencing of Fr. Altier sharply contrasts with Archbishop Flynn’s policy of turning a blind eye to open dissent from fundamental Catholic teaching in other parishes of his diocese and in his own cathedral. In December 2004, Flynn claimed that he had Vatican approval to welcome the homosexual activist group, The Rainbow Sash, to receive Communion in St. Paul Cathedral during their protests against Church teaching on homosexuality.

Archbishop Flynn was included in a list of US Catholic prelates who were personally thanked by the Rainbow Sash movement for their support of the homosexual agenda within the Church.

In October, 2004, the Vatican made the extremely rare move of intervening directly in the case of the notorious “gay parish” in Flynn’s jurisdiction, St. Joan of Arc. Rome ordered the parish to remove Gay Pride material from its website and cease inviting non-Catholic speakers to Masses. The parish currently includes a “GBLT” page on its website where the homosexual lifestyle and the adoption of children by homosexual partners is commended.

In April 2004, Catholic Parents Online requested that Archbishop Flynn intervene at St. Joan of Arc to defend Catholic teaching on sexuality. Flynn curtly dismissed their request saying, “I must remind you that I am the Archbishop and choose to influence in a different manner than you and many of the people who would write to me. I think it is totally unfair of you to engage others in these letter-writing, e-mail campaigns…I would ask further that you not call and ask for an appointment concerning this.”

Contact Archbishop Flynn:
  226 Summit Avenue
  Saint Paul, MN, USA 55102
  (651) 291-4400
[email protected]
  Read previous coverage:
  Archdiocese Facing Parent Complaints over “Talking about Touching” Sex-Ed Program

Vatican Intervenes in Minneapolis Catholic “Gay Pride” Parish

Parents Continue to Object to Diocesan Child Protection Programs


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