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October 19, 2020 (The Catholic Thing) — With the pope’s approval, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) has issued a letter entitled The Good Samaritan devoted to the care of persons in the critical and terminal phases of life. Those hoping to renew Christian moral awareness in response to the needs of our time will welcome its many affirmations of the Gospel and its critique of harmful cultural treads. Unfortunately, those contributions are undermined by the radically different approach to morality found in other statements coming from the Vatican and many bishops on issues such as abortion, homosexuality, contraception, and remarriage after divorce. This conflict is evident in their divergent understandings of moral acts, cooperation, conscience, and pastoral accompaniment.

The CDF’s letter affirms the human and evangelical truth that euthanasia and assisted suicide are intrinsically evil acts, that is, they are always violations of human life and the Gospel. The document denies that any consideration of other “goods or values” can alter the fundamental reality: the moral object chosen in euthanasia is “an act or omission which of itself or by intention causes death” to an innocent person (i.e., it is murder).

It follows that “any formal or immediate material cooperation in such an act is a grave sin.” This means in particular that those who approve euthanasia laws are “accomplices of a grave sin” and “guilty of scandal because by such laws they contribute to the distortion of conscience.”

The CDF acknowledges that requests for euthanasia may arise in circumstances that reduce or completely remove guilt. Nevertheless, “the error of judgment into which the conscience falls … does not change the nature of this act.” Thus, the act is always harmful and never a real service to the person.

The letter calls Christians and others to follow the example of the Good Samaritan (who, ultimately, represents Jesus) by personally attending to those who suffer, enlisting others to assist in their care, and unfailingly doing good for them. It stresses the Christian duty to help them embrace unavoidable suffering by uniting themselves to the Crucified and Risen Lord. Notably, this pastoral accompaniment is said to require withholding sacraments from those who request euthanasia and avoiding anything that approves or appears to approve their decision, such as standing by while the person is killed.

These pastoral directives serve the good of the person, other Christians, and the civil community. The person seeking euthanasia, “whatever their subjective dispositions may be, has decided upon a gravely immoral act” and thus lacks “the proper disposition for the reception of the Sacraments of Penance, with absolution, and Anointing, and Viaticum.”

Such persons need, then, first to be guided to abandon their intention and to remove themselves from any organization that provides euthanasia. Withholding sacraments under these conditions serves a medicinal purpose: to lead the person to a deeper participation in the life of Christ. Similarly, avoiding the appearance of approving the killing prevents the scandal of misleading the person, those present, or others who may hear of it. These acts of pastoral accompaniment do not reject or abandon the person, but affirm their human dignity and the Gospel.

The letter’s approach to morality and to the pastoral response to evil is remarkable for the stark challenge it poses to contemporary approaches to other moral issues, particularly one theory claiming to have the pope’s support.

Consider that abortion, like euthanasia, is the direct killing of the innocent. Contraception and homosexual activity, too, are intrinsically evil acts. Jesus himself declared that remarriage after the divorce of a legitimate marriage is inherently adulterous. Yet for more than fifty years, bishops have allowed priests and theologians to teach that other “goods or values” and judgments of conscience can sometimes permit such actions.

During the same period, most bishops have failed to instruct Catholics that voters and politicians who approve abortion laws are accomplices in grave sin and guilty of scandal. Worse, bishops taught or allowed the public to believe that this cooperation isn’t sinful and refused to provide the medicine of withholding sacraments. Thus, their “pastoral accompaniment” slipped into approval or the appearance of approval which misleads others. They, not Catholic politicians, should be the first to atone publicly for this scandal.

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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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In recent decades, numerous bishops have permitted ministries for Catholic homosexuals that don’t declare the need to renounce sexual activity and membership in organizations that promote such behavior. In fact, some bishops have suggested that pastoral accompaniment should include blessings or ecclesial recognition for same-sex “partnerships,” ignoring the scandal of leading people to believe that God approves this behavior.

At present, bishops and theologians who claim to speak on the Pope’s behalf, such as Cardinals Cupich and Marx, assert that the Church may not withhold sacraments from those acting with a sincere conscience. They seem unaware that conscience can’t change the nature of an action and that the appearance of approving evil actions isn’t really pastoral care; it’s a scandal. True accompaniment patiently corrects consciences, withholding sacraments when necessary.

Regrettably, there are periodic claims that Pope Francis has spoken privately in favor of these distorted understandings of conscience and pastoral accompaniment. Some say this is the key to interpreting his much-debated Chapter 8 of Amoris Laetitia, which speaks of various goods and values in second unions. But it never establishes the evangelical basis on which  these can alter the fundamental reality that the moral act chosen by such a couple is sexual relations outside a valid marriage (i.e., adultery).

If circumstance or conscience can’t make euthanasia good, how could they make an adulterous union good?

The pope’s continued resistance to settling questions regarding his alleged remarks and the moral foundations of Amoris Laetitia leave space for scandal. Now, he wishes to rally Christians to defend using an approach to morality that repudiates the theories he allows to spread in his name. A vigorous, unified Catholic response is currently impossible because “If the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?” (I Cor. 14:8)

Published with permission from The Catholic Thing.

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