Prior to my conversion to the Catholic faith, I witnessed various forms of anti-Catholicism — ranging from casual to extreme — within the Protestant milieu in which I grew up. Comments such as “Catholics are going to Hell,” “The Pope is the Antichrist,” “Catholics are idolatrous pagans,” “The Catholic Church killed millions of innocent people,” were the normative expressions of views on the Catholic Church in that environment. Looking back at the sermons and lectures I heard and the literature I read condemning the beliefs and practices of the Catholic Church, I have developed the understanding that the vast majority of things that those opposed to the Church say about the Catholic faith are simply based upon misunderstandings, misconceptions, lies, and exaggerations.
Sadly, in my four years of being a Catholic, I discovered a new variant of anti-Catholicism, one that has been promulgated by various extremists in the Church, primarily from those who self-identify as “conservative” and “traditional.” These extremists have caused tremendous divisions and infighting to the point where we see people say things that ought not to be said at all — in public or private — against the Catholic hierarchy. In our digital age, it has become very easy for anyone to share their views online and gain a massive following. This means that when so-called “Catholic influencers” start to say and do things that oppose the teachings of the Magisterium, they can lead their followers down a path of spiritual darkness, corruption, and destruction. We have just witnessed this once again in the case of Fr. James Altman.
In the last decade, we have seen the emergence of the anti-Francis movement’s contempt and vitriolic slander and defamation against the pope. As a result of the influencers, many Catholics have adopted extreme ideologies and erroneous theological positions — such as sedevacantism and “recognize and resist” — that oppose the Church’s official teachings on authority, ecclesiology, and the Magisterium. We have seen a not-insignificant number of people who clamoring for the removal of Pope Francis from his office by any means. Fr. Altman has not only publicly declared on multiple occasions that he believes Francis is not the valid pope, but more recently has called for his death. Altman made his case by invoking Sacred Scripture — according to his interpretation of it — to justify the murder of the man he considers an “anti-pope” in a recent 25-minute video entitled, “Fr. Altman on the Great Millstone: Throw Bergoglio into the Deep Blue Sea.”
Altman has followed a perfectly predictable trajectory from MAGA prophet foretelling damnation to all who voted Democrat to declaring lynching “capital punishment” and saying the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto had it coming to calling trans people “vermin” to declaring Francis a false pope and gloating over his anticipated damnation to calling for his murder.
It’s of a piece with the rest of the MAGA antichrist religion. Huckabee threatens to kill Americans if Trump doesn’t win. Greene calls for Civil War to start killing people if Trump doesn’t win. Trump calls for violence and the death of those he hates such as Pence and Milley. And now this mentally unbalanced man who should never ever have been ordained is calling for the death of the Pope (and speaking in similar contemptuous terms of his vast array of hated enemies).
Pathological people will behave pathologically. What bothers me is not that this incredibly unstable human being acts unstable, but that the subculture that elevated this disturbed man to the skies now waffles between defending his calls for killing Francis and pretending that they are not 100% responsible for making this Frankenstein monster yet another hero of the Francis-hating sect that has been so wrong about so much so many times for so long that only an absolute fool would trust their judgment about anything in the whole wide world.