Bishop Strickland says he is ‘troubled’ by Fr. Altman’s suspension
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July 13, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – In the wake of Bishop William Callahan of the Diocese of La Crosse removing outspoken cleric Father James Altman from his parish and suspending his priestly faculties, Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas issued a message of support for Altman’s previous defense of Catholic morality, and called on the outspoken priest to now practice the “humility of obedience.”
Altman, whose viral video “You Can’t be a Catholic and a Democrat” catapulted him to fame, publicly clashed with his bishop in recent months. Bishop Callahan had asked him to resign, and Altman told LifeSite at the end of June that his ousting was imminent.
Speaking with LifeSite’s John-Henry Westen after the event finally occurred, Altman described the suspension of his faculties as an “interference with the feeding of God’s children, which is through Word and through the Sacrament.”
Strickland revealed he was “troubled” to hear of Altman’s removal from the parish. Noting that neither he nor Goring knew the precise details of the entire situation, Strickland warned that “in the present climate, Fr. Altman is well known, and I was troubled because it seems that a voice of truth is being silenced.”
Goring warned that the “climate” within the Church, as referenced by Bishop Strickland, was drifting towards “a kind of liberal Protestantism,” which Altman had been speaking against.
“When someone like Father James Altman rises and speaks against this grave error, faithful Catholics [are] relieved to hear that. To hear a voice like that has been silenced, it’s kind of concerning,” added Goring.
“People are hearing him boldly speaking the truth,” agreed Bishop Strickland. Strickland revealed that Altman had “certainly” expressed opinions that he did not agree with, but “when it comes to boldly teaching what our Catholic faith teaches, people are hearing him as a voice of that truth, and it’s a shame for it to be silenced.”
“Maybe there are very good reasons if we knew the whole story, but I think we need to know more of the story in the present climate, and to acknowledge that some of Fr. Altman’s opinions - they’re his opinions. People don’t need our opinions as priests and bishops: they need the Catholic faith.”
Strickland had previously expressed similar words to Fr. Altman. In a June 2021 episode of the Bishop Strickland Show, he noted that he would continue to support the outspoken cleric, not due to the opinions of the priest, but because “he’s teaching the truth of the Gospel.”
Speaking to Fr. Goring, Strickland explained that the reason he has supported Altman is due to his defense of “the sanctity of life, from conception to natural death.” He referenced Fr. Altman’s public teaching that Catholics could not support anyone who supports “the killing of the unborn.”
“That’s a very basic issue that he’s been very clear on,” stated Strickland. “It is clear Catholic teaching. We consider abortion to be intrinsically evil. Also on same-sex ‘marriage,’ he’s been very clear on that.”
The bishop also gave some words of counsel to Fr. Altman, urging him to now practice the virtue of “obedience.”
“I believe deeply, personally, and in the whole structure of the Church, the humility of obedience is something that is of very strong, spiritual value,” he said.
“I know that gets frustrating when your being asked to be obedient in a way that you think is inappropriate, but I would advise, and I presume he has, to look at that question of balancing obedience with the truth.”
The bishop also spoke of a point when “all of us have to choose between living the truth, and being obedient,” describing it as a “tough decision to make.”
In addition to his counsel to “be careful about obedience,” Bishop Strickland also encouraged Fr. Altman to “take all of it to prayer,” in order to be obedient, “ultimately to the truth.”
“Fr. Altman is obligated to be obedient, but obedient to the truth and obedient to his bishop. He’s got to prayerfully find that proper place for how that’s balanced in his situation.”
Bishop Strickland closed by calling for prayers, not just for Fr. Altman, but also for his bishop, so that Bishop Callahan might also be “obedient to God’s truth and to his responsibilities as a bishop.