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Diocese of La Crosse warns priest who said that 'you cannot be Catholic and be a Democrat' in viral video

Posted at 4:05 PM, Sep 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-11 09:32:35-04

LA CROSSE — The Diocese of La Crosse says it is considering canonical penalties against one of its priests whose fiery rhetoric in videos has gone viral online.

Bishop William Patrick Callahan said in a statement Thursday that the message and tone of Fr. James Altman has become "angry and judgmental, lacking any charity and in a way that causes scandal both in the Church and in society."

The bishop acknowledges that some in the community are asking for immediate penalties against Altman, while others show unwavering support. While Callahan did not announce such penalties Thursday, they "are not far away if my attempts at fraternal correction do not work."

The latest video from Altman appears to have been the tipping point for the archdiocese.

In a video posted to YouTube by Alpha News MN on Aug. 30, Altman condemned the Democratic party in a 10-minute sermon, saying that "you cannot be Catholic and be a Democrat. Period."

"Their party platform is absolutely against everything the Catholic Church teaches," Altman argued in the sermon.

"So just quit pretending that you're Catholic and a Democrat. Repent of your support for that platform and that party and its platform... or face the fires of hell," he said.

In the video, Altman argues that the Catholic Church is a moral institution, not a political one. But he adds that it is the duty of the church to comment on politics when necessary, according to the video.

Altman continues that the Democratic Party does not believe in religion and is thus amoral.

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