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Local priest says Catholics cannot be Democrats

The Diocese of La Crosse has released a statement denouncing Altman’s comments
Published: Sep. 10, 2020 at 6:15 PM CDT
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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU) -

“To clueless baptized Catholics out there-- you cannot be a Catholic and be a Democrat. Period,” said Father James Altman of St. James the Less Catholic Parish in La Crosse in an online video.

In the video which has been viewed nearly half a million times, Father Altman says “climate change is a hoax”, “Planned Parenthood is the most racist organization on the planet” and calls those on DACA “criminal illegal aliens.”

His thoughts that Catholics cannot be Democrats has gained mainstream attention and is something some in the La Crosse community don’t agree with.

“It is inconceivable to me that someone would say that a person would be condemned to hell for practicing things that I think are very much in line with what we should be doing and helping other people,” said Vicki Burke, a local Catholic and Democrat.

In response to the online video, the Diocese of La Crosse released a statement saying it denounced Father Altman’s “judgemental and angry tone” and “generalization of entire groups”.

The Bishop says he is addressing the issue privately with Father Altman and that penalties could be enforced if needed.

“Politics has no place in the Catholic Church--baloney," Altman said in the video.

This is not the first time that Father Altman has made political statements either.

Homilies posted online from earlier this year show him praising Donald Trump, criticizing the CDC, and commenting on protests surrounding George Floyd’s death.

“Our right to protest ends when it enables criminal anarchists,” said Altman in a homily.

“Every fascist governor and health department tyrant kept your voters on lock down and threatened churches,” added Altman later in the same homily.

The Catholic Church is tax-exempt and under IRS guidelines prohibited from engaging in political activity.

The Diocese has yet to respond to our request for comment on Altman’s political statements.

As for local Democrat Vicki Burke, she says no political party or candidate has 100 percent the values you may believe in.

While Burke does vote blue, she says she is also pro-life.

“I believe in feeding the hungry, providing care for the sick, giving drinks to the thirsty, providing shelter to the homeless, welcoming the stranger, welcoming the immigrants,” Burke explained. “I think that’s what being pro-life is about.”

Burke did contact the Bishop over the controversial video and is happy with how he is handling the situation.

Father James Altman has not returned our requests for comment.

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