Doug Mainwaring reports for LifeSiteNews : Hundreds of people descended on a rural Wisconsin city on Sunday in a show of support for Father James Altman, whose viral video message, “You can’t be a Catholic and a Democrat,” has now been viewed more than 660,000 times.
Fr. Altman’s bishop, the Most Rev. William P. Callahan, recently threatened the outspoken priest with “canonical penalties” for his video, even as public support for the priest has surged among rank-and-file Catholics around the country.
Nearly all the prayer rally participants interviewed by LifeSiteNews shared a common sentiment: “We need more priests like Fr. Altman who are true shepherds.”
“When you look at how many people showed up today, that came from many states away, that just speaks volumes about how hungry people are for truth,” said one woman. “What a great gift Fr. Altman has for being able to proclaim that truth in an eloquent way that not only empowers the public.” He is “empowering our priests as well.”
“Fr. Altman speaks the truth loud and clear and bold,” observed another. “We need more priests like him.”
“Fr. Altman is a rare breed. He’s a modern-day St. John the Baptist,” declared another. “He’s really changed my life and so many others he’s had that impact on. We need more priests who are true shepherds.”
“He takes his role as shepherd extremely seriously and we need that, especially in today’s world,” the Fr. Altman supporter continued. “There’s so much chaos, and I love how he calls out the ‘brood of vipers’ within the Church, within our government.”
“He is motivating us Catholics to do more than just watch him on video and feel good,” she added, saying that she thinks people will now get out to defend the faith. “I think he is being used by God as a catalyst for change within the parishioners in Catholic churches, not only here in Wisconsin, but all around the world.”
One young woman told LifeSiteNews that she believes a lot of priests remain silent because of fear of repercussions from the hierarchy.
“Fr. Altman is so brave and courageous that he’s willing to risk all of that for us so that souls might be saved and that people might be spared from the eternal fires of hell,” she noted.
“Fr. Altman is an incredibly humble man,” said a woman who works at Fr. Altman’s parish, St. James the Less in La Crosse, as she waved her hand, pointing to the large surrounding crowd. “I think this whole thing really mystifies him.”
She said she was shocked to see people from all around the country come to support her parish priest. That support is needed, though, because Fr. Altman “preaches the truth [which is] sometimes hard for people to hear; it can be hard to swallow, and so there are some people who are resistant to the truth.”
A man who said he’s not Catholic but showed up to support Fr. Altman nonetheless commented, “We’ve been watching his homilies since May.”
“We love these fellow patriots, we love them, we care about them,” he continued.
He said he has been disappointed with some members of the “Protestant clergy not speaking up.”
“We’ve got Fr. Altman over here, our friend, speaking up boldly, so we’re 100% behind him,” he concluded.
Father Richard Heilman, a popular speaker and writer who led the “Peaceful Prayer Rosary Rally,” said, “I know a lot of people wrote letters of appreciation to Fr. Altman’s bishop, and I bet he saw thousands – if not tens of thousands – of letters, because we all do appreciate Fr. James Altman.”
“Bottom line: He loves, loves, loves his flock, and so like a good shepherd, if he sees the wolves invading, he sounds the warning alarm,” said Heilman.
“Finally!” proclaimed Heilman. “Finally someone with such fiery passion is speaking directly to what’s going on in the Church and in the world, and we’re so eternally grateful to him for that.”