First, let me say that I don't know why Archbishop Flynn gave the cease and desist order to Fr. Altier. Neither does anyone else, including St. Agnes pastor Fr. Welzbacher, as he told us at Mass today. He said flatly he wasn't told, didn't know and then proceeded to quote Canon Law as to why the Archbishop could do what he did.
I've heard many sermons by Fr. Altier. I've read what he's written, heard him on the radio and television and have even welcomed him into our home when he came to bless it. I've always been impressed by the depth of his knowledge, as well as the depth of his faith and humility. I've never heard or seen anything to suggest his teaching was not entirely orthodox. Although he can still say Mass, hear confessions and continue to teach his Fundamentals of Catholicism class, he cannot write on his website or broadcast on the radio, cutting off his teaching opportunities to those who don't attend St. Agnes Church.
I've never met Archbishop Flynn; the only personal contact I've had with him is his response to a letter I wrote to him several years ago regarding something I witnessed during a funeral Mass at St. Joan of Arc Church. The abuses are too numerous to mention here and are more appropriate to another post. Suffice it to say that I outlined what I saw, wondered if he knew about these things, and asked why this was allowed to continue. The return letter I received amounted to a literary pat on the head. Thanks for your comments, don't worry yourself about it, bless you.
As the years have passed, I have become less and less confident that Archbishop Flynn could or would handle the problems in the Archdiocese that needed attention (the Rainbow Sashers, pro-abortion "Catholic" politicians receiving Holy Communion, etc.). In his defense, I have read and heard stories about his pastoral skills; about how he would go in the middle of the night to comfort the loved ones of someone on the verge of death, ministering to those in need. And, he supports the Marriage Amendment. However, between his lack of administration skills, his inability or unwillingness to shepherd with a firm hand and the influence of what I can only describe as the Lay Liturgy Loonies who run the Archdiocese and The Catholic Spirit, I cannot help but think that Archbishop Flynn was wrong to suppress Fr. Altier. Whether it is his opposition to Catholic schools teaching sex-education (the program Virtus) or whether it is something else, Fr. Altier is not spreading heresy. St. Joan of Arc parish can twist the liturgy into something unrecognizable as the Catholic Mass and go merrily on it's way, but Fr. Altier is stopped dead in his tracks. This just in, life isn't fair. But wouldn't you like to know why the discrepancy. We here in the Archdiocese and, especially at St. Agnes parish, would. But it is unlikely that we will.
The lesson we can take from this is from Fr. Altier himself, who when he was told to stop his comments in the media, did so, obediently and humbly and immediately. What a role model, especially in this time of Lent as we reflect on our Lord who went to the Cross without opposition or complaint. We are called upon to pick up our cross daily and follow Him and that is precisely what Fr. Altier has done. Our prayers go out to him - and to Archbishop Flynn - for Jesus taught us to love our enemies. We just never thought that they would include our bishops.