CHICAGO, May 25, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — Following a decades-old allegation of child sexual abuse that removed him from his role as senior pastor in January while an investigation was conducted, the dissident “famous as a rock star” priest Fr. Michael Pfleger has been reinstated by Cardinal Archbishop Blase Cupich of Chicago.
Cupich announced the news in a letter to St. Sabina Catholic Church where Pfleger has served as pastor for almost 40 years. The archbishop explained how following the allegations, and in accordance with the policies of the archdiocese, an investigation was conducted by an established Independent Review Board assisted by the archdiocesan Office of Child Abuse Investigation and Review, along with outside investigators.
“The Review Board has concluded that there is insufficient reason to suspect Father Pfleger is guilty of these allegations,” Cupich wrote. “Having given careful consideration to their decision, which I accept, I now inform you that I am reinstating Father Pfleger to his position of Senior Pastor of the Faith Community of St. Sabina, effective the weekend of June 5-6, 2021.”
During a Monday press conference on the steps of St. Sabina Church, surrounded by many friends and supporters, Fr. Pfleger said, “The nightmare is over.”
“This has been the most difficult and challenging time in my entire life,” he explained. In reference to his experience of being depressed, frustrated, angry, and discouraged, Pfleger said, “I’m a man of faith, but I’m also a human being who hurts and who bleeds.”
“I’ve wanted to give up, and to be honest with you, there was sometimes I would have given up, but I love this church too much to walk away from it,” he emphasized to the cheers of appreciation from his supporters.
“This conclusion is the strongest statement of innocence that the Archdiocese can make under their rules and regulations,” explained Pfleger’s attorney, James Figliulo.
On January 5, Archbishop Cupich announced the “difficult news” of the 40-year-old allegation against Pfleger, and the necessity of putting him on leave while the matter was being investigated.
Cupich clarified at the time that “[a]llegations are claims that have not been proven as true or false. Therefore, guilt or innocence should not be assumed.” He had also conveyed that “Father Pfleger has agreed to cooperate fully” with the investigation.
In a written response the same day, the St. Sabina community’s “Cabinet” pledged their full support for their longtime parish priest, stating they “believe that these accusations are unfounded” and they “boldly stand behind the integrity, passion, work and ministry” of their “Sr. Pastor, Rev. Michael Pfleger.”
Over the years, Pfleger has run afoul of foundational Catholic social justice priorities, including when, in 2007, he became the most high-profile Catholic supporter of pro-abortion presidential candidate Barack Obama, praising him as “the best thing to come across the political scene since Bobby Kennedy.”
For such advocacy on behalf of the future president, Cardinal Francis George sanctioned the priest, requiring him to take a “temporary leave of absence” to “contemplate his controversial remarks,” which violated the “discipline common to all Catholic priests.”
Pfleger also handed over the pulpit at St. Sabina to several pro-abortion figures over the years, such as singer Harry Belafonte, who criticized former president George W. Bush for threatening a “woman’s right to abortion,” as well as former pro-abortion Democrat presidential candidate Al Sharpton.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
In the theological realm, Pfleger caused controversy among Catholics by expressing doctrinally dissenting views in advocacy for female “priests” and an end to priestly celibacy.
In 2011, Cardinal George suspended the priest again for combative remarks indicating he would prefer to leave the Catholic Church over his parish, when the archdiocese planned to transition him to a new pastoral role at a nearby high school. After Pfleger apologized, George restored him to his parish.
Cupich’s rehabilitation of Pfleger offers a stark contrast to his treatment of Fr. Frank Phillips, head of a community of tradition-minded priests celebrating both the traditional Mass and a very reverent “ordinary form” Mass at St. John Cantius in Chicago.
Cupich had removed Phillips as pastor of St. John Cantius and superior of the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius for “credible allegations of improper conduct with adult men,” according to the cardinal’s signed letter read to parishioners at Mass in March 2018.
“The Review Board has concluded that Fr. Phillips has not violated any secular criminal, civil or canon law,” the group’s statement said. “Fr. Phillips, having been exonerated thusly, and this in turn confirmed by the votum of The Rt. Rev. Gene Szarek, C.R., Ph.D. Provincial Superior of the Congregation of the Resurrection upon receipt of the Review Board Report. We now prayerfully await the response of His Eminence, Blase Cardinal Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago, for the return of our pastor.”
Cupich continues to prevent Phillips from exercising public ministry.