LA CROSSE, Wis (WXOW) - Catholic Priest Father James Altman spoke in his sermon Sunday, which is available on YouTube, that the Bishop of the La Crosse Diocese requested his resignation.
Father Altman reflected on his alleged 'divisive' remarks as the basis for Bishop Callahan's request as he claims that the Bishop believes he is "ineffective as a Pastor".
Father Altman, priest at St. James the Less Catholic Church on La Crosse's North Side, said he will contest the resignation request and employ a canon lawyer to aid in his appeal. He also cited several benefits, like increased membership and monetary contributions his parish has brought to the Diocese over the past year.
"While we are contesting Bishop's request...and we are...he could in theory appoint a parish administer whilst I remain a pastor without duties until the appeal goes through Rome," Father Altman said. "Which could take up to a year or more."
Since his Sunday's sermon, a crowdfunding effort on GiveSendGo.com is underway to support Father Altman's legal defense. So far over $95,800 has been raised.
UPDATE: The Diocese of La Crosse responds to Father Altman's comments below:
"Fr. James Altman has recently made public the request from Bishop William Patrick Callahan that he resign his office of pastor of Saint James the Less Parish in the Diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin, as well as his intent to decline the request. As a result, the Diocese of La Crosse will respond in accordance to the canonical process as needed for the removal of a priest from his office as pastor.
During the past year, concerns have been expressed related to the ministry of Fr. James Altman, a priest in the Diocese of La Crosse. Bishop Callahan of the Diocese of La Crosse, and canonical representatives have worked to fraternally and privately address those concerns. The process has been pastoral and administrative with a desire toward a just resolution among all parties.
The ministry of pastor was instituted in the Church not for the benefit of the one to whom it is entrusted, but for the pastoral and sacramental care of those for whom it is conferred. The salvation of souls takes precedence over the stability of the pastor in office when these two values come into direct conflict. Although attempts were made to allow Fr. Altman the opportunity to respond to fraternal correction, a resolution of this situation has been unsuccessful.
It is important to note that this is not a penal remedy but a pastoral remedy. Bishop Callahan asks for your prayers for Fr. Altman, for the congregation of St. James, and the faithful of the Diocese of La Crosse and beyond. While any change made to the ministry of a pastor is difficult, it is done with the hope that God’s work of justice, reconciliation and healing may be realized in the Body of Christ for a positive outcome.
The Diocese of La Crosse asks for the consideration of respect, safety and prayers at this time for all involved."