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LA CROSSE, Wisconsin, May 28, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Fr. James Altman, the Wisconsin priest who challenged his bishop after being asked last week to resign, said today that he is still awaiting a response from diocesan authorities.
Fr. Altman has withstood months of criticism, attacks, and threats from both secular media and La Crosse Bishop William P. Callahan for his viral video message last fall “You can’t be a Catholic and a Democrat” and his fearless criticism of U.S. bishops for needlessly shutting churches and denying the faithful sacraments during the COVID-19 pandemic.
LifeSiteNews correspondent Jim Hale traveled to La Crosse to speak with Fr. Altman, who is uncertain if the Mass he offered this morning at his parish church, St. James the Lesser, was his last.
“There’s been no official communication from the diocese with me directly or through my canon lawyer,” explained Fr. Altman, who said that a press release issued by the diocese Monday is the last he has heard concerning his situation.
In the meantime, “I’m still the pastor,” said Fr. Altman. “I’ll just keep showing up for work.”
Fr. Altman indicated that a lot of priests don’t speak up as he has done because they fear repercussions, leading them to worry, “How can I support myself?”
Funds donated by LifeSite readers and others to help defray attorney costs have been “extraordinary,” he said. Then no matter what happens, “I can continue to be a voice by setting up something whereby I can transmit daily meditations, which is all that I was doing in the beginning anyway.”
So far, LifeSite’s LifeFunder campaign has raised more than $240,000 in donations for the embattled priest to cover canon lawyer fees.
Fr. Altman said the outpouring of support through financial donations “is a testament to me of the witness of touching people around the world with the depth of our faith, with the truths of our faith.”
Fr. Altman said that no matter what happens he’s not going away and he will not be silent. “I’m not going to any re-education (camp) as so many have been forced to do in the past because they had no (other) option.”
Fr. Altman “is the heart and soul of the parish,” said parishioner Andrew Dixon. “He’s the man who gave everything for us, especially when the rest of the world was shut down.”
He is “a man who leads by example. He leads by his sacrifice, and that’s something that any father can really connect with. His love for his flock is very evident,” Dixon told LifeSiteNews. “It is difficult to see him be treated this way because he loves his flock.”
“The parish has only grown this last year,” added his wife, Meghan, “and so to hear that he’s ineffective from the bishop is hard to hear.”