Wenote that the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul andMinneapolis, Minnesota, for all practical purposes, has silenced apriest named Father Robert Altier. It is an interesting action, atseveral levels. We find it noteworthy at the same time that, as always,we urge obedience.
Father Altier is a rare one indeed, at 45 arelatively young priest who unabashedly speaks strong stuff --including prophetic stuff, and including exposes of alleged wrongdoing-- from the pulpit. As it was, he had been relegated, at the Church ofSt. Agnes, in the city of St. Paul, to the 6:30 a.m. Mass (although thechurch's website disseminated his homilies).
On weekdays, it hasbeen the six a.m. shift -- a Mass that regularly attracts between 75and a hundred despite the early hour. Some of his homilies, including arecent one, have been surprisingly open in their criticism of bishops.
Hemay be a bit strong, and naturally we're not sure of all his views (weall have different ideas), but so popular and unusual have been hishomilies that for a while now they have been disseminated over theinternet via his own website, called "A Voice in the Desert." Thatwebsite has now announced the bishop's closure.
"In obedientcompliance with the expressed written request of Most Reverend Harry J.Flynn, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis,Minnesota, USA [left], Father Altier’s homilies and spiritualpresentations can no longer be published on www.desertvoice.orgor broadcast on Relevant Radio," says the website. "Please be assuredthat this action of the archbishop is not related to any scandal orsexual misconduct on the part of Father Robert Altier. We regret anyinconvenience and humbly ask for your prayers."
Father Altierhas expressed a number of views that some in mainstream Catholicismconsider strong and controversial. We have contacted the diocese forcomment.
"They say you can't preach like that because thecollection will go down," said Father Altier, who is a third-orderCarmelite and who before becoming a priest, at age 28, had attained adegree in computer programming.
But his"tell-it-like-he-sees-it" approach, he says, has not hurt."Parishioners seem to be fine with it, but I'm not sure other priestslike it," he told Spirit Daily a while ago. "Priests are intomaterialism and worldliness. And if you want the material, you can'thave the spiritual. Priests have gotten into a lot of worldliness."
Asa local newspaper notes, Altier is a prominent voice in conservativeCatholic circles and has spoken out against a sex-abuse preventionprogram being taught throughout the archdiocese, including toschoolchildren. He says the program is too explicit. Such programs weremandated in all dioceses by U.S. bishops as part of their response tothe clergy abuse crisis.
It is Father Alitier's contention thatthere is a simple and real truth behind scandal. "I got sick and tiredof all the lies. I just laid it out. There are three groups that haveinfiltrated the Church, the Masons, the Communists, and thehomosexuals, who came in 1924," he alleges. "85 percent of all theabuse cases are homosexual. There is rank homosexuality. Homosexualschose the best and brightest and best looking and put them into thepriesthood."
As for our times, Father Altier views it asrelating to the Gospel reading on cleaning the temple -- but this timewith the Blessed Mother, who will "clean it like a woman, not likeJesus did (when He threw out the merchants); she is being moredeliberate and every nook and cranny will be cleansed," he saysinsightfully. "When it is done, it will "not be pretty but it will beimmaculate.
"I have been speaking about this since the early 1980s, but after 9/11, I said, 'Now the birth pangs have begun.'"
Theyare like labor pains that will get closer together and more intense,contends the priest, who spends hours each day in front of the BlessedSacrament.
Why is he controversial? And why do people -- including many priests -- reject the idea of purification?
"Ithink because people don't want to deal with sin," he says. "The lossof the sense of sin is one of the great tragedies of our time. Theydon't want to deal with the idea that God would allow any kind ofpurification. We focus on His mercy so much that we forget His justice.The devil is resisting the idea of chastisement. If we can explain itscientifically, it denies the spirituality of an event, and what thedevil desires most is to remain hidden. Certainly he is going to beinvolved in some of these things, whether directly or from chaos atspiritual level. He is inspiring chaos at spiritual level.
"Andsome of it -- wars as well as storms -- we are doing to ourselves.Nature reflects the chaos in the spiritual order. You see that rightfrom the Garden of Eden. There was peace until they sinned, and thatcontinues. The chaos that we see -- the storms and tsunamis -- continueto get more intense and closer together and it is because sin isgetting worse. We can't keep killing babies and violating human dignityand think that nothing is going to happen to us. We're doing it toourselves. It's a natural consequence of what we're doing."
These days, when it comes to Christianity, he says, "we only want the parts we like."
The priest has also harped on the need for deliverance.
"Idid an awful lot of deliverance work, and the bishop shut it down,"claimed Father Altier. "He said he didn't want any priest in hisdiocese doing this."
[see also: Huge cry over sex education and 'talk of touching" and Diocese endorses 'centering prayer'
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