Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Response to Fr. Altman: Part 3

With this post I am continuing to respond to the critics who left comments on Part 1, where I made my initial analysis of Fr. Altman's video "You Cannot Be Catholic and a Democrat". Also see Part 4.

If I had Discqus for my comments section, then this would be a lot easier. I could just respond to people there, and the reader would know who I was responding to. But I don't, and I think if I implement it now then I'll lose all the comments I've received since I started this blog back in 2006 (!!), and I don't want that. So, I'm stuck with doing it this way. I hope you'll bear with me.

[UPDATE (9/16/20, 5:51PM): I think I fixed my comments section with an option that Blogger had, which will make it easier to see who is replying to who. I think I'll continue this series of posts though, at least for responding to the Part 1 comments, so that the information in support of my position will gain a wider audience. Creating a blog post is also helpful for when a comment requires a longer response than is typically helpful in the comments section.]

Now, let's get to it. The comments I'm responding to will be indented and italicized.

"Anonymous" (9/7/2020, 7:00 AM) said:

The section responding to 3.41 is very silly. It's very easy to say "See, there are x-y-z which aren't bad". Your logic would mean that someone who wanted to criticise Hitler "Absolutely against Catholicism" could be met with a "Not true. Here’s just a few positions from the National Socialist platform that conform to Catholic teaching".
How is it silly? Fr. Altman said, "Their party platform absolutely is against everything the Catholic Church teaches." That's a false statement. There's no way around it. All I have to do is find ONE item from the Democratic Party platform that aligns with what the Church teaches in order for this statement to be false. I found several. Why can't you just admit that he's wrong about this?

Some of the more confusing things you've said, free college, free healthcare are Catholic teachings. No they are not. These are matters of prudential disagreement about how to achieve a common goal.
"Free" college and "Free" healthcare is not exactly what I wrote, now is it? I said "Every child should have access to a high-quality education" and "Health care is a human right". Now, how we provide a high-quality education and health care is up for debate, but the fact that these should be provided is not. That much is Church teaching. See, for example:
  • "Clearly, this sort of development in social relationships brings many advantages in its train. It makes it possible for the individual to exercise many of his personal rights, especially those which we call economic and social and which pertain to the necessities of life, health care, education on a more extensive and improved basis, a more thorough professional training, housing, work, and suitable leisure and recreation." (Pope St. John XXIII, Mater et Magistra, no. 61)
  • "But first We must speak of man's rights. Man has the right to live. He has the right to bodily integrity and to the means necessary for the proper development of life, particularly food, clothing, shelter, medical care, rest, and, finally, the necessary social services. [. . .] He has the natural right to share in the benefits of culture, and hence to receive a good general education, and a technical or professional training consistent with the degree of educational development in his own country." (Pope St. John XIII, Pacem et Terris, nos. 11-13)
Moving on now ...

The Democrats' plans seem good but are mathematically implausible. "Healthcare is right" this sounds good but you might be forgetting the Catholic principles of subsidiarity which the Democrats ignore while claiming to "solve" the problem by making it free. Even if you confiscated the last penny of every billionaire you'd have only 1/8th of what MfA needs. Similar is the case with free college, the solution will have to involve cutting fees. Because in the US these things are overpriced. You can easily verify that the costs of college and healthcare here are 30 times that of countries like India. The problem is about high prices which will not be solved if you make it free. Countries like the UK struggle to keep their economies afloat while maintaining an NHS.
All of this is beside the point. I didn't make any arguments about how these should be provided. My point is simply that the Democratic Party platform says that they should be provided, and the Church says that, too.

Regarding the other points, the fact that Trump is pro-life only for conservative votes is well noted by most conservatives. But he has produced actual results which other R presidents did not. You now start to now make absolutist statements about being pro-life: pro-life means anti-abortion according to the dictionary. You are doing the work of the pro-choicers ("prolife is hypocrisy so abortion OK") for them when you say "he isn't pro-life because he doesn't support my x policy on healthcare". Also, the (sad) fact that he allows for exceptions doesn't make him anti-life, just as Biden doesn't become an anti-healthcare fascist because he didn't support Medicare-for-All.
If you don't think providing health care for everyone is a pro-life issue, then your beef is with the Church, not with me. This isn't just "my x policy", this is what it means to be pro-life.

It is possible for faithful Catholics to vote Democrat, but they have to rationalise how the things they are seeing as absolute compare, even in orders of magnitude, to the horror of abortion. The Fr. in the video is crazy and reflects a dangerous trend in the US Catholic Church but the space for such figures is only created when the people see the hierarchy offering funeral masses for abortion activist politicians. It is because the bishops show no leadership that people turn to people like Fr. Altman or Vigano or the like.
I think people turn to "Fr. Altman or Vigano or the like" because they villify the other as "the enemy," and people like to think that they are on the right side of a war against a mortal enemy. The problem with this is that such rhetoric practically requires overly-simplistic and ultimately unfair presentations of opposing points of view.

[I'm assuming the following comment is from the same person, since it was posted a minute later and echoes the same sentiments as above.]

You can't make absolutist statements in these matters by vague things like "believe in science" (both sides claim to respect science though it is true that a portion of the grassroots MAGA movement is off the rails), international solidarity (You seem to have a view that unless we take part in the WHO, unless we listen to the UN we can't have solidarity. It is a legitimate position and not contrary to Catholicism to say that the WHO is suspiciously beholden to China and the UN is no longer working for the common good but for progressive political interests like the normalisation of abortion and LGBT ideology). Immigration is not an absolute right. Even Bernie (called it a "Koch Brothers proposal") disagrees. This is once again an area of legitimate disagreement as to how we deal with illegal immigration and mass immigration. Unlike some others, this is not even "Catholic teaching". The mistreatment of immigrants that happens at the border is because they literally have any resources to deal with the huge masses of people because Congressional Democrats keep voting to not fund the systems which deal with illegal immigrants.
You're reading too much into those items I listed. I humbly submit that you also need to spend some time learning more about Catholic social teaching.

Does the Dem platform say that science is a source of truth that should be respected? YES. Does the Church teach this? YES:
  • "Faith and science: 'Though faith is above reason, there can never be any real discrepancy between faith and reason. Since the same God who reveals mysteries and infuses faith has bestowed the light of reason on the human mind, God cannot deny himself, nor can truth ever contradict truth.'" (CCC, no. 159)
Does the Dem platform prioritize international solidarity? YES. Does the Church teach this? YES:
  • "Socio-economic problems can be resolved only with the help of all the forms of solidarity: solidarity of the poor among themselves, between rich and poor, of workers among themselves, between employers and employees in a business, solidarity among nations and peoples. International solidarity is a requirement of the moral order; world peace depends in part upon this." (CCC, no. 1941)
Does the Dem platform say that human beings have the right to emigrate? YES. Does the Church teach this? YES:
  • "The political community has a duty to honor the family, to assist it, and to ensure especially [. . .] the right to private property, to free enterprise, to obtain work and housing, and the right to emigrate;" (CCC, no. 2211)
Note, I never said it was an "absolute right". I said, "Human beings have the right to emigrate." It's a human right, or a "natural right" (CCC, no. 2241).

- - - - - - - - - -

"Awaken" said:

Have you heard any of his preaching other than this video? EVERYTHING he says is founded on church teaching. Did you truly hear the gospel last weekend?
EVERYTHING? Really? You capitlized that word, not me. That means if I find one thing that isn't founded on Church teaching, your statement is wrong. Let's count the falsehoods of Fr. Altman (I'll even stick to the items that aren't debatable):
  • By his own admission, He only loves and is inclined to serve the people he personally knows
  • He made a huge deal over Fr. James Martin, SJ being a "premeir speaker" who "spouted off for the Democrats", when Fr. Martin did no such thing.
  • He said the Dem platform was "absolutely" against "everything" the Church teaches
  • He created a false equivalence between direct and indirect support of a candidate/party
  • He thinks voting a certin way can actually make you not Catholic anymore
  • He said DACA "means criminal, illegal aliens" when it clearly doesn't.
  • He denied Fr. James Martin the title of "Father" and Archbishop Wilton Gregory the title of "Archbishop", both more than once
  • He thinks someone who is wrong on an important moral issue suddely becomes "godless"
  • He thinks the end times are approaching
Of course I also think he's wrong when he says a faithful Catholic can't be a Democrat, and I think he's wrong for saying that if you vote Democrat you risk going to Hell, as I've already shown.

Also, is it "Church teaching" to denigrate and name-call the people you disagree with? Abusive language is forbidden by the fifth commandment (CCC, no. 2073) and respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury (CCC, no. 2477).

The complacency you seem to expect of your priests is the reason why we are on the brink of communism in this country. If the democrats win in November it will be here in a short time.
I don't expect complacency from my priests, just truth and charity -- and I find those lacking in Fr. Altman's video.

And we're not on the brink of Communism. Take a chill pill. Obama didn't usher that in like everyone said he would. Biden won't either. We have too many checks and balances in place for something like that to happen. Quit falling for this blatant scare-tactic.

The democrats are the party of peacekeeping?? Staying silent as people are rioting, looting, wanting to abolish the police (KEY step in Marxist takeover)--this is the party you are talking about?
I never mentioned any of this. Try to stick to what I actually write, please. I'm not gonna chase all these red herrings.

I had been a Democrat most my life. I CRIED the day Trump won. But as the democrats continue to indoctrinate gender ideology, abortion, and other things that are COMPLETELY against the Catholic church, i can no longer stand before God with a clean conscience if i vote for another Democrat. This change happened when the riots started at the end of May. I started listening to conservative blacks-- this that the democrats don't even acknowledge their existence-- and saw how there is now than one story to everything, despite what every news media outlet would have you to believe.
Want to know the difference between me and Fr. Altman? I actually think it's your right to vote in accordance with your conscience. If you can't vote for a Democrat anymore, than by all means, don't vote for them. I'm not saying you have to, I'm just saying you can, under the right conditions.

Please don't be complsce in your decisions! Seek out the opposing view point. If you're not even willing to listen to the other side, truly listen, then you're not making an informed choice.
I'm fully informed of the opposing view point. I used to advocate the opposing view point! (see "Obama, Abortion, and Ensoulment" and "McCain and the Pro-Life Movement") But, as I became increasingly disgusted with both parties, more considerate of the moral questions at stake when someone votes, and more aware of the breadth of the Church's social and moral teaching, I have come to the conclusion that neither Party is the "Catholic Party" and that we cannot automatically excommunicate or damn people on one side or the other. Under some circumstances we can say, yes, this person has directly cooperated in a grave evil, but we cannot say that in every case, and so we shouldn't.

Catholics of equally good will and equally formed consciences can come to different conclusions on how best to apply the moral teaching of the Church to the moral act of voting. This is where prudential judgment comes into play. You can disagree with someone's reaosns for applying the teaching of the Church the way they have, but you can't say that person has sinned and you surely can't say he is going to Hell, simply because, based on his prudential judgment and his properly formed conscience, he voted differently from you.

Our political discourse will lose a lot of it's rancor as soon as we quit assuming that everyone on the other side is "godless, ignorant sheeple."

- - - - - - - - - -

"Wake Up" (probably the same as "Awaken" above) said:

If I had not done my own research about the truth of what is going on in the Catholic leadership, I, too, would have found Fr. Altman's words appalling. It was just a few days ago that i discovered the atrocity that took place at the Vatican, allowing a statue of Pachamama, an indigenous idol, to be worshipped on their grounds!!! If the leaders will allow this to happen and will allow churches to close while stores and abortion clinics stay open, how are we to trust them? I don't want to hear that it is our obligation to follow church leaders. If they are leading us astray, and priests like Fr. Altman are telling us so, it is our own fault if we continue to listen to them.
How about we not put our faith in any Church leader? Put your faith in Jesus. "Straight talk" or "telling it like it is" is not the same as truth or virtue.

The devil works so that evil things have a way of appearing to be good and justified. If you subscribe to the falsehood, you won't accept the truth, because doing so requires you to admit you were wrong.
I agree. And I'm perfectly happy to admit when I'm wrong.

We must pray for all our leaders. I believe that the vast majority of people truly want to do good. They can't see how they're being used or misguided by those who want to spread evil because it's being done in the name of the "common good". They don't know better and don't know God or our faith's true teachings, so they fall prey to the whims of the culture. I was there in the recent past. It's hard to have your world view turned upside down, but you realize that the democrats are no longer the same party they once were. They are an arm of the communists now, using "socialism" to hide behind the true power desires of the few pulling the strings that you can't see.
Many people are waking up to the evils of the Republican Party as well. I think they're both despicable, personally. I don't think a Catholic should feel fully at home with either Party.

Fr. Altman is calling us to WAKE UP! Maybe you're not ready to hear his message but you can't say you were never warned.
Fr. Altman as the great prophet of our times? I'm not convinced. I also think it's possible to "wake people up" without resorting to calumny and falsehood. But, if you want to be among his "sheeple", then so be it.

- - - - - - - - - -

"Anonymous" [9/08/2020 12:02 PM] said:

As a Catholic from communist Poland Father Altman is a true Shepherd of his flock.There is only 1 set of rules...10 Comandments.If you really know them than all of you who don’t approve of what he said are not fallowing God’s Teaching.You are not true Catholics, Rules and doctrine don’t change to help you feel better about your life or lifestyle that is not excepted by the church teaching.Watering down teachings of Jesus to fit your agenda is not being Catholic. It was Liberal Ted Kennedy and his liberal Friends and some liberal other members of Catholic Church that gave us abortion on demand as pretext to woman’s health.True Catholics need to read the scriptures,study 10 commandments and remember what Jesus said...the road to salvation is hard and the gate is very narrow.Youwant to to water it down to make feel good and anything goes....it’s not Catholic Faith.
There's only 1 set of rules? I think the Catechism of the Catholic Church would be a lot slimmer, and Canon Law wouldn't even exist, if that were true! Please show me which of the Commandments I've broken with my analysis. Show me how I've "watered down the faith" when I've backed up all of my faith-based arguments with quotes from the Church's own authoritative documents. Sweeping accusations like this don't convince anyone of anything.

Pax Christi,


  1. I commend you for the excellent retort to all of this. I am in agreement that both parties have utterly failed us. The virtual equation of Trumpism with Catholicism is horrifying. I say this as one who cannot, in good conscience, vote for either candidate. Maranatha

  2. i also agree with you phatcatholic and sacerdote. praying for you and for others
    like you. JMJ

  3. The comment you rebutted of mine was left in reply to another commentator on your list. It shows as replies on the phone but is just one long stream in order of posting on the computer. I didn't list the commentors name I was replying to bc I thought it would show as a reply to them, not your piece.

    1. Hey Awaken, thanks for the clarification, I think I may have fixed the comments section so it's easier to see who each person is replying to. Let's see if this works!

  4. A very thoughtful response. Thank you.

  5. Hello Phat Catholic,

    The Pope Benedict quote you use (When a Catholic does not share a candidate’s stand in favour of abortion and/or euthanasia, but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons.”) says, "which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons."

    The USCCB has declared abortion as the preeminant issue of our time. meaning it is the most important issue we face as a society in America currently. There are no other issues proportionate to abortion.

    Furthermore, I think you're missing the spirit of Altman's message. He's not saying all Democrats are bad. He's explaining how supporting the recent Democratic agenda is anti catholic. He's not condemning people that may find themselves pro-life and Democratic. He's saying that if you support the current Democratic Party Political Platform, then you risk going Hell, which is true if you believe the USCCB on abortion.

    1. The title of his video is not "you cannot support the current Democratic Party Political Platform and be Catholic." The title he gave it is " "You Cannot Be Catholic and a Democrat". Your assertion fails.

      In the USA, party platforms are non-binding on both party members and party candidates. So yes, Altman falsely slurs Catholic Democrats.

      As to "abortion as the preeminant issue of our time", I'm sure what authority the USCCB has to make such a declaration in a way binding on anyone, but I and others are sincerely convinced that there will be fewer unborn lives destroyed under a Biden Administration than a Trump Administration (I am happy to explain why). Therefore, I am voting for Biden.

    2. @Kurt
      In the Catholic church, God's law IS binding on His followers. The parties are a creation of man.
      Planned Parenthood performs over 300,000 abortions each year. More than 1.2 million babies are slaughtered in 4 years. How has (or will have) Trump killed over 1.2 million people?
      The DNC chairman himself has said that if you're not pro-choice, you can't be a Democrat, so Fr. Altman is wrong to change the wording and say the same message, but Perez can say the same thing and he's fine?

    3. Kurt, I would like your explanation of why. I feel the same way but curious as to how you came to it.

  6. Thank you for all three of these posts. I have been very upset about Fr. Altman's videos the past few days. I think his videos disturb me so much because I see the resonance they have with certain people in my life. These people extol Fr. Altman, Michael Vors, and the like, especially how they "tell the hard truths." Your posts articulated so much of what I feel about the ad hominem attacks they frequently use, and your rigorous citations are such a relief in times when we have so many people shouting at us: "Believe it, because I say so!"

    As a Catholic Millennial (or am I a Millennial Catholic? hah!), I feel so discouraged sometimes. I see the face that personalities like Fr Altman put on our Church, and I think, "Why would anyone want to join them?" My friends and contemporaries shout at me, "The Republicans are evil." The older generation of my family and church shout at me, "The Democrats are evil." Respectful dialogue is now a forgotten skill, replaced with who can shout the loudest.

    My feelings are too intense to properly articulate, so please forgive the rambling nature of this post. I guess I just really want you to know how grateful I am for your writing.

    All the very best, Brendan

  7. Just for the record, the returns from the precincts of Altman's parish were won by Biden. As I generally find, strident statements like his tend to alienate rather than persuade.

    1. I'm sure he's cursing the "sheeple" right now


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