The fate of Fr. Altier, this is outrageous
Father George Welzbacher, pastor of the Church of Saint Agnes, has issued a statement regarding the unexpected reassignments of both himself and Father Robert Altier. Sometime in mid-June, Father Welzbacher will be leaving Saint Agnes parish at his own request and move to an unspecified location. But the biggest surprise is Archbishop Harry Flynn's shocking decision to remove Father Altier from Saint Agnes and appoint him as assistant chaplain of a nursing home in an outlying district 30 miles southeast of Saint Paul-Minneapolis.
At the age of 45, Father Altier has served 17 years in the priesthood, 14 of those as Assistant Pastor at the world-renowned Church of Saint Agnes, and now Archbishop Flynn has decided it is just and proper to relegate him to a nursing home. This is a priest who generously spends long hours in the confessional bringing souls back to God, who has been responsible for guiding numerous young people to offer their lives in religious vocations, who for 17 years has painstakingly given instruction through his Fundamentals of Catholicism course to over 150 people each year and brought hundreds of converts into the Catholic Church, who is renowned for his skills in spiritual direction, who acts as board member and advisor to several orthodox Catholic organizations, and who up until recently had been preaching to a worldwide audience via A Voice in the Desert website and Relevant Radio broadcasting.
The Archbishop stated in a public email on March 20 that he asked Father Altier to cease his multi-media apostolates because it "might be beneficial to him and to the parish of St. Agnes." Apparently, he thought Father needed more time to fulfill his responsibilities at the parish. His Excellency then went on to invite people to "visit Saint Agnes where Fr. Altier continues to actively minister" if they wanted to hear him preach. But now he will reside at a nursing home. Isn't this a contradiction to what the Archbishop originally told us in his message of March 20?
The nursing home in question is Regina Medical Center in Hastings, Minnesota. (You can visit their website pastoral page at http://www.reginamedical.org/index.asp?pageID=page_39.htm and the nursing home information can be found at http://www.reginamedical.org/index.asp?pageID=33 ) This nursing home is a modern 61-bed facility which is currently served by a kindly 75-year-old priest. A chancery official has stated that this present priest chaplain will continue in his current position at Regina; therefore, Father Altier will serve as assistant chaplain. In addition, there is already a religious sister on site who is responsible for ministering to the nursing home and assisted living residents, and she also will continue in her present position. As there is only one scheduled Mass each day which will be prayed by the current chaplain, there are virtually no daily requirements for the assistant chaplain to fulfill besides praying his own private Mass, providing the occasional sacraments of Anointing of the Sick and Confession, and infrequent counseling for residents, patients, or their families. A small hospital is on the premises, but no major surgeries are done there and no trauma unit exists. With approximately 10-12 parishes in the archdiocese lacking a resident priest, it is certainly surprising that a priest of Father Altier's caliber would be sent to a destination where he will have an overabundance of time on his hands.
Since March 1, Catholics worldwide have been asking the following questions: Why did Archbishop Flynn silence Father Altier? Why did he shut down a Catholic website known for its fidelity to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church? The first clue came when Archdiocesan spokesman Dennis McGrath told the Star Tribune, "I surmise that Father Altier's contrarian position on VIRTUS is the issue." VIRTUS and its related program Talking About Touching (TAT) are the answers proposed by the Bishops of the United States to the sex-abuse scandal which broke out in 2002. Unfortunately, these graphic sex-ed programs are in direct violation of Vatican teachings on human sexuality and do nothing to stop predators but instead place the burden of protection on young children themselves. Archbishop Flynn served as chairperson of the USCCB's Ad Hoc Committee on Sexual Abuse which developed these programs and he chose to proliferate it throughout his archdiocese beginning in the 2006-2007 school year, with pilot program testing to start in the spring of 2006. As the material content of these programs became more widely known, concern grew over their appropriateness. And because many aspects of VIRTUS and TAT are contrary to Church teaching (see sample lessons at http://www.primaryeducators.org/lessons.php ), Father Altier felt it was his duty to inform parents in an effort to protect the young children who would have their innocence irrevocably shattered by such programs. As parents became aware of the dangers of VIRTUS and TAT, they explored the possibility of using an alternative program: Formation in Christian Chastity (FICC) from the Diocese of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. (For information, visit http://www.primaryeducators.org/ ) According to a statement made by Father George Welzbacher, pastor of the Church of Saint Agnes, FICC is the program preferred by Archbishop Flynn himself! (You can read Fr. Welzbacher's statement at http://www.desertvoice.org/responseoffraltierandfrwelzbacher.htm )
It is interesting that the Archbishop would choose to exclusively promote VIRTUS/TAT when he actually prefers FICC. LifeSiteNews and other Catholic news services have stated that VIRTUS enjoys the support of homosexual activist groups around the country. (See article http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2006/apr/06040706.html ) The program is also endorsed by none other than Planned Parenthood. Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of the diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska, recently stated that it was a well known fact that the members of the National Review Board responsible for mandating the use of these sex-ed programs are "ardent advocates of partial birth abortion, other abortions, human cloning, and other moral errors." (See article http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2006/apr/06040302.html ) And so it was that at a recent meeting of approximately 200 local Catholic school principals and religious education directors on February 10, 2006, the question was asked about "what was going to be done about local priests that were stirring up the pot about the chancery's safe-environment initiative." Sister Fran Donnelly, the Saint Paul-Minneapolis archdiocesan director of the Protection of Children and Youth Initiative, answered that "[Vicar General] Fr. Kevin McDonough is getting out a two-by-four." (You can read her response at http://thewandererpress.com/a3-9-2006.htm ) As Father Altier has been at the forefront of the efforts to stop the infiltration of VIRTUS in our archdiocese, it is clear to see that the two-by-four Sister Donnelly was referring to came to Father Altier on Ash Wednesday in the form of the Archbishop's request that he take his material off the internet and stop participating in broadcasts on Relevant Radio.
And now that Father Altier will be sent to a nursing home, one can see just how cruel this two-by-four has been, and continues to be. The fact that the Archbishop delivered his initial request on Ash Wednesday speaks volumes. It made for a very harsh Lent for Father Altier and all of you worldwide who have come to rely on Father's sound spiritual instruction on the internet and radio. Yet Our Lord said that a light shines brighter in the darkness, and so Father's continuing example of obedience and gentleness during this trial is a beacon for all of us on how to live the truly Catholic life. He had told us that he "would go down for the sake of the children" because he truly loves each and every soul. We thank God for his courage and for any priest who would be willing to do the same. Bishop Bruskewitz, Bishop Vasa, and a handful of others are standing firm in refusing to allow these horrendous sex-ed programs into their dioceses. (To learn about the scandalous origins of these programs, see http://thewandererpress.com/a11-3-2005.htm ) Fortunately, the superior they report to -- Pope Benedict XVI -- is in full unity with Catholic doctrine and these bishops have maintained their allegiance to the Holy Father without yielding to pressure from dissident factions within the Church. (Bishop Vasa's statement is at http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2004/jul/04072107.html ) But for Father Altier, his future is in the immediate hands of Archbishop Flynn.
Most regretfully, we do not see the same obedience from our Archbishop as we are witnessing today in Father Altier. (For details concerning the Archbishop's conduct go to http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2006/mar/06030602.html ) The archdiocese continues to sink deeper and deeper into depravity while the homosexual community is pandered to, and meanwhile we witness this wrongful action and extreme marginalization committed against a priest who has been a faithful son of Holy Mother Church. Why should it be that our own elderly Archbishop is personally thanked by the gay Rainbow Sash movement for his support of the homosexual agenda within the Church, and a good, holy, young orthodox priest like Father Altier gets sent to a nursing home? What a contrast this is!
We initially suggested that you contact Most Reverend Harry J. Flynn in a charitable manner to express your concerns about Father Altier's situation, but now you may want to contact the following Vatican officials to express your grave distress at the blatant injustice we are seeing unfold before our eyes -- because, after all, one wonders what will be next.
His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI PP.
Bishop of Rome
Via del Pellegrino
Citta del Vaticano
Vatican City State, 00120
His Eminence Dario Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos
The Congregation for the Clergy
Piazza Pio XII 3
00120 Vatican City State
His Excellency The Most Reverend Pietro Sambi
Apostolic Nuncio to the United States
3339 Massachusetts Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008-3687