Skip to comments.ARCHBISHOP EXPLAINS ACTIONS WITH FATHER ALTIER
Posted on 03/21/2006 6:40:33 AM PST by NYer
The following e-mail was sent to viewer Mary Grace Westman, who inquired as to why a Minnesota priest, Father Robert Altier, was no longer allowed to conduct a radio and internet ministry. The move by Archbishop Harry Flynn caused a heated controversy two weeks ago, for Father Altier had a significant following in conservative and Marian circles. The archbishop's explanation:
To interested party
Thank you for your recent note. I appreciate that you have benefited spiritually from Fr. Altiers homilies. He has done much good work and is not being silenced.
Fr. Robert Altier is a priest of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis in good standing. He wrote to ask me for permission to extend his radio ministry. I reviewed the situation and discerned that a break from his multi-media apostolates might be beneficial to him and to the parish of Saint Agnes. His primary responsibility has been and continues to be as assistant to the pastor there in ministering to the parishioners. The specific reasons for this decision are within the context of a bishops relationship with his priests. It would be most inappropriate to discuss them with others.
Many people have leaped to inaccurate and unkind conclusions. They do a disservice to Fr. Altier and to me. I pray that Lent will be a time for them to examine their consciences and grow in charity. They would be well-advised to listen to or read some homilies about the perils of rashly judging others and about the respect owed to the successors of the apostles.
Some people have mentioned concerns with regard to the safe environment programs for children. Let me assure you that pastors in this Archdiocese have a number of options from which to choose and that parents always retain the right to withhold their children from any program to which they object.
I hope that you may avail yourself of some of the other good spiritual resources on the radio, Internet or in good, old-fashioned books. I personally enjoy the insights of the periodical missal Magnificat. You are also free to visit Saint Agnes where Fr. Altier continues to actively minister.
With every good wish, I remain
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Harry J. Flynn, D. D.
Archbishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis
I really love FR, but for a forum of supposed conservative and orthodox people, many of us somehow place ourselves in a position to sit in judgment of a bishop who has exercised his perogative as a man endowned with apostolic authority. His office and reputation demand that we give him the benefit of the doubt. Remember, passivity and receptivity are chief virtues of lay people.
"Because I said so, that's why" always worked for my mom and dad when I was young. It should work for us now. After all, the Archbishop is a spiritual father who in a special way bears the image of God the Father.
Feel free to grant the benefit of the doubt, but at times doing so is to ignore a bit of the reality. There is lots of history here, and this Bishop has a temper. The suggestion he is doing this silencing for the benefit of the priest is BS.
Perhaps the bishop is preventing Fr Altier from being in a position to be a vocal opponent of his policy, thus safeguarding his promise of obedience. Perhaps he is preserving Fr Altier from giving scandal and fostering hostility toward legitimate authority. Perhaps he is preventing Fr Altier's words from motivating an agenda contrary to the spirit with which the words were spoken. There are a number of valid reasons that the bishop may exercise his perogative. Unless the bishop is behaving in a manifestly immoral way, we must accept his decisions. Fr Altier, it seems, has.
I don't even think (despite the fac that I wrote earlier) that we should give him the benefit of the doubt. The bishop has the right to more than that. It is not a question of the benefit of the doubt. It is a question of divinely constituted authority.
By the way, I am a fan of Fr Altier. So I do not write this as a backhanded attempt to smear him in any way. I have friends who have been very strengthened in faith because of having heard his homilies. I hope that a Fr Altier fares well despite the pain that fidelity to his solemn promise may engender.
>>> There are a number of valid reasons that the bishop may exercise his perogative. Unless the bishop is behaving in a manifestly immoral way, we must accept his decisions. Fr Altier, it seems, has.
It strikes me that you do not see a difference between obedience and questioning. Yes, Fr. Altier must take down the website, etc., in obedience. I am not, by my criticism, disobeying the bishop in any way. Nothing I've said violates obedience or implies I do not accept the bishop's authority to do the wrong thing. That proper duty of obedience hardly immunizes the bishop from criticism. They are two different things. Here, the criticism is entirely appropriate, entirely accurate, and entirely within the rights of the faithful. All the "perhaps" in the world won't change that.
Pretty sad that a bishop has to demand the "respect owed to the successors of the apostles." Did Bernard Law live up to the respect owed to him?? What about the respect that that bishop owes to his priests??
Passivity and receptivity as "chief virtues of lay people"?? Wow! Right out of the 19th century! Suggest you take a look at the Vatican II documents, especially Chapter 4 of Lumen Gentium.
Would tend to agree. Strange email.
A Voice in the Desert
| The Archbishop's Response - with a commentary
Response of Fr. Altier and Fr. Welzbacher, pastor
Do not surrender your confidence;
Most Reverend Harry J. Flynn
Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
This action of the Archbishop is not related to any scandal
We regret any inconvenience and humbly ask for your prayers.
Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis
Most Reverend Harry J. Flynn