Thursday, July 27, 2006

Father Robert Altier Speaks Out, Forcefully

Matt Abbott of RenewAmerica has posted a letter by Father Robert Altier, chaplain at the Regina Nursing Home in Hastings, MN, former Associate Pastor of St Agnes Parish in St Paul, MN. The letter, to Dennis McGrath who is the Communications Director of the Archdiocese of St Paul-Minneapolis, was copied to Archbishop Harry Flynn and Mr. Kenneth Fisher, President of the Concerned Roman Catholics of America in Anaheim, California.

Father Altier was removed from his post at St Agnes last March, ostensibly for reasons of disagreeing with the Archbishop over the use of the VIRTUS sex education program in the Archdiocese. Until this moment, no public first hand comment has been heard from Father Altier.

The CRCOA has been a vocal supporter of Father Altier and is circulating a petition on his behalf to supporters around the world. Father's letter was resent by Mr. Fisher to paid subscribers of the CRCOA mailing list newsletter and we present it here with all the attachments as sent:

Dennis McGrath
226 Summit Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55102-2197

Dear Mr. McGrath,

Praised be Jesus Christ! I am writing to you in response to a letter that you wrote to Mr. Kenneth Fisher on July 17, 2006 and which was, in turn, forwarded to me. In this letter you state, regarding Mr. Fisher, that "his story is replete with errors and major exaggerations. As the communications director for The Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, let me strive to correct the record and, hopefully, get your Catholic Newswire to do the same if you're at all concerned about journalistic ethics and truth." Toward the end of the letter you further state "to let Mr. Fisher use your news service as a communications medium to trumpet a campaign based on false and distorted information is almost unimaginable to me, as a trained journalist."

These are rather interesting statements considering that your own letter contains very few pieces of factual data but is, indeed, replete with misinformation and a great deal of false and distorted information of its own (and this is not the first time). This strikes me as being "almost unimaginable" coming from one who claims to be a trained journalist and even more because you represent the Archdiocese and the Archbishop. If this were merely a matter of false and distorted information I would have ignored it and remained silent, as I have in the past. But there is something much more serious contained in your letter which has prompted me to write you. This would fall under your statement about getting the record straight and concern about journalistic ethics and truth.

In your letter you state that I have "indeed frequently and inappropriately (if not disobediently) criticized the Archbishop and Archdiocesan leaders (and not simply on the VIRTUS child protection/education program)." While it is true that I have not always agreed with certain decisions that have been made, I have never, to my recollection, made public statements that are critical of the Archbishop and I have never been disobedient to anything he has ever asked. A clear distinction needs to be made here. We have a right and, at times, an obligation to make judgments on actions, including decisions. To criticize such actions or
decisions does not constitute criticism of the person per se. I have made a promise of respect and obedience to the Archbishop and I have maintained this promise. To disagree with a decision is neither an act of disrespect for the person of the Archbishop nor is it an act of disobedience. These charges made in your letter are not only fabrications of your own, but they constitute slander and calumny which are both serious sins. I am requesting that you either produce some evidence to back up your remarks or "strive to correct the record" by recanting these statements in the same medium or media in which they were

Mr. McGrath, considering your position as the Director of Communications for the Archdiocese, and considering that you make it clear at the beginning of your letter that you are acting in that capacity, your statements have to be taken not as personal opinion, but as the official position of the Archdiocese. This is quite tragic (but does indeed speak volumes) and it is truly unimaginable coming from a trained journalist who is concerned about journalistic ethics and truth. Since you are speaking on behalf of the Archbishop and your statements are to reflect his own official position, I am sending a copy of this letter to the Archbishop. I am also sending a copy to Mr. Fisher because your original letter was addressed to him. Trusting in your desire to correct the record and uphold only the highest standards of ethics and truth, I will look forward to your rectification of this
unfortunate situation.

In our Lord and our Lady,
Fr. Robert J. Altier

Cc: Archbishop Flynn
Mr. Kenneth Fisher


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See the Stella Borealis "Category" for Father Robert Altier in the Sidebar column to the right for all of the posts mentioning this suspension since March.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

nice one!

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