Do as they say, not as they do

The scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 So practice and observe everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. Matt. 23:2&3

They brought them in and made them stand before the Sanhedrin, where the high priest interrogated them. 28 We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name, he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us responsible for this man’s blood.But Peter and the other apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than men. Acts 5:27-29

“ Let priests take care not to accept from the liberal any ideas which, under the mask of good, pretend to reconcile justice with iniquity. Liberal Catholics are wolves in sheep’s clothing. The priest must unveil to the people their perfidious plot, their iniquitous design. You will be called Papist, clerical, retrograde, intolerant, but pay no heed to the derision and mockery of the wicked. Have courage; you must never yield, nor is there any need to yield. You must go into the attack whole-heartedly, not in secret but in public, not behind barred doors, but in the open, in the view of all.” – Pope St. Pius X"
When I say to the wicked, `O wicked man , you will surely die ,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade him from his ways, that wicked man will die for his sin* , and I will hold you accountable for his blood. Ezekiel 3:18

With these passages in mind, isn’t Fr. James Altman obeying God rather than man?

No. First and foremost because he isn’t accurately teaching what the Church teaches. Secondly, because as a priest he has pledged obedience to his bishop. Bishop Callahan is speaking with him privately.

The forum prohibits speculating on these types of disciplinary matters involving specific priests and bishops. There is nothing to discuss.

Let’s not spread gossip or engage in detraction or calumny here.

Let’s pray for Bishop Callahan and Fr Altman.

Here is the full text of the diocesan statement:


A wise old priest once said to me, “never divide the people; that’s the first commandment. The second is never be disobedient to your bishop.”

Canon Law prohibits clerics from taking an active role in political parties (including endorsing / renouncing) candidates / parties for the simple reason that it’s divisive of the Body of Christ. In the same way, the promise of “respect and obedience” Fr Altman made at his ordination is intended to reflect and preserve his fraternal communion with the Church (through his bishop). Fr Altman may well believe that he is right in his views but that’s not the point - it’s not about him - a priest is not his own. By persisting, he is making it about himself and risks fostering a cult of personality amongst his followers. I pray that he listens to his bishop and humbly submits to his direction.


I rarely agree with your posts. But you are right about the cult of personality. Many people and some priests have fallen to this. On both sides. One could point to Fr James Martin, one could point to Fr corapi.
The priest is of course right.
But do his supporters support him? Or anoint him. We are so thirsty for Truth that I pray we don’t anoint!

So, if I’m understanding this correctly, Fr. Altman could have reminded people that we cannot support a party or candidate that supports abortion, socialism, euthanasia, etc. etc. and that would be in line with Catholic Teaching (because we can’t support a party or candidate that opposes what the Church Teaches). But because he said the word ‘Democrat’, then that’s what makes what he said bad?

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Actually, that is a gross oversimplification and not true either. Read the NUMEROUS documents on voting and civic responsibility including the USCCB’s Faithful Citizenship.


Because he misrepresents Church teaching in more than one aspect and did it in a way that is grossly uncharitable and gives scandal.


The way I understand this.

Fr. Altman became the door keeper. The Pharisees pretty much would say, you can not be a Tax collector and a Jew. But Jesus welcome the Tax Collector. However the thing is that after Jesus called them the Tax Collectors did good. The Tax collectors did not continue to do injustice, to the contrary, one paid everything back fourfold. The other Tax collector quit being Tax collector and became an apostle.

Once you allow a few lone rangers to bend Church law, bypassing their bishop, even by saying things I agree with…

this opens the door for other lone rangers to bend Church law in other ways, doing and saying things I really disagree with.
In some ways he is acting like a bishop, in other ways like a layman. By blurring the distinct roles he weakens the Church’s ability to do its mission.

Is it divisive to teach the truths of the Catholic Church in a clear way that the common faithful can understand? If so what would you consider unifying? Does teaching lies and confusion, as too many priests and bishops already do, either directly or by their silence, bring about unity? Isn’t unity with Christ and HIS Church the only true unity? Being united in lies is no unity at all. As far as obedience to a bishop, at what point is this scripture applicable, “Peter and the other apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than men. Acts 5:27-29”?

The priest teaches the basic truths. Then the laity apply the truths to particular situations.

I didn’t listen to the video. Can you give an example?

I just listened to it. Exactly where did he misrepresent Catholic teaching?

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I’ll take that as a compliment! Certainly, the cult of personality is a real danger for any priest with a high profile ministry - there’s the risk that it becomes about them rather than about Christ. To put it another way, the question that always needs to be asked is are they trying to lead people to Christ or to Christ via themselves?

Telling people that they’re going to hell based on their support for a particular party is hardly unifying or Catholic teaching. St Alphonsus Liguori put it best when he said: " Be as gentle always as possible; and remember that you will catch more flies with a spoonful of honey than with a hundred barrels of vinegar".

The role of a priest is to build up the body of Christ - not to divide it - which again is the reason for the prohibition on political involvement in Canon Law. The fact that some in the community that some in the community are asking for immediate penalties to be imposed against Fr Altman, while others are championing his cause is itself illustrative of the divisions. The same reasoning also applies to obedience to a bishop - personally, I like to think that when I knelt before my bishop, placing my hands between his, and made this promise, I actually meant it! Besides being a reflection on personal integrity, the promise of respect and obedience also goes to the heart of ecclesial communion - a priest is a co-worker with his bishop and there can be no genuine priestly ministry except in communion with their Bishop, who deserves their filial respect and obedience by virtue of the office entrusted to him.

In fairness, Fr Altman’s response to his bishop remains to be seen but that aside, it is not responsible, appropriate or charitable for a priest to publicly criticise a bishop (even if not his own bishop) - especially not in a homily. He may well disagree with the bishop, he may think that the bishop is completely wrong and may even have excellent reasons for this belief but he should also respect the office (or as a friend of mine would say, “if you can do it better, please do”) since such respect is essential to the preservation of ecclesial communion.


Father Altman is a good holy priest that wants to save souls. I for one appreciate his clarity. I have sat in my parish church and I hear homilies that are so watered down and hear about climate change. There are Catholics in the pews that use contraception, are ok with abortion, ok with homosexual marriage, think missing mass is not a mortal sin, etc. There are many Catholics that do not know the faith and are in mortal sin. They should be hearing homilies to offer clarity of these points which they are suffering from, yet they hear about climate change. Father Altman is doing exactly what is necessary.


Unless the speculation comes from you…


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The problem here is that no matter how many times we, or Fr. Altman’s bishop, reiterate that Fr. Altman said things that were not Catholic teaching, people on here (and on the Internet and general) who think everything he said was Catholic teaching are going to disagree.

Seems like there’s a big catechetical problem here.

It also doesn’t help when you have Bishop Strickland supporting Altman while his own bishop does not.

Anyway, we’re never going to solve it on the forum and this will just turn into the umpteenth “Fr. Altman and I are more faithful to Church teaching than you and all those other lukewarm bad Catholics I’m forced to see calling themselves Catholics” thread, so no point in discussing. Thank you to Father Inthepew and to 1ke for providing the correct answers.

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Two wrongs don’t make a right. I sat through a lot of the kinds of liberal sermons you describe. Fortunately they are a lot fewer now, though they still happen.

When a man gets married and there are children, he gives up some other good opportunities. Likewise, when a man puts on a collar, he takes on new authority and credibility, but also some new constraints.

I agree Fr. Altman could have worded things differently but Fr. Martin is out there saying worse things and he’s not being reprimanded. Fr. Altman could just be sick of it all and speaking from the heart. Hes’ only human.

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Amen- excellently put

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