Minnesota priest pushes COVID-19 conspiracies during homily, warns against vaccines

A local priest is facing scrutiny over a recent homily and his stance on the coronavirus pandemic. In a homily delivered this past Sunday, Father Robert Altier spent 20 minutes explaining why he believes the COVID-19 virus was manufactured and spread on purpose.

"Did you buy the lie that you might get something, but you don’t know it, but somebody might get it from you… and grandma is going to die," said Altier. "You are a murderer. What a crock of rot.”

"It's time that we start to recognize that we are being lied to," he added. "The work had begun at a lab in North Carolina, then they sent it to China to finish the work, then it was released so people would get sick."

The Catholic priest went on to tell his congregation that he believes government officials were in on the plan.

"They put them into nursing homes on purpose because God was not cooperating with these people in their plan," Altier claimed. "There weren't enough people dying."

Infectious Disease Doctor Frank Rhame with Allina Health says this kind of rhetoric isn’t based in science and is flat out dangerous.

“Who are they?” Rhame questions. “Do you have a shred of evidence for that?”

Rhame was especially concerned with the priest’s encouraging his parishioners to forgo a COVID-19 vaccine, once its available.

"People who spread that kind of thing are hurting other people," said Dr. Frank Rhame. “And if we don’t stamp this thing out. If we don’t get enough people vaccinated to stop this thing from spreading, it will bite us.”

Altier pointed to death rates, and listed off other viruses and diseases that appear more deadly, including influenza. Rhame debunked those notions as well.

"Did influenza ever kill 20 or 30 people in a nursing home in two to three weeks? Did influenza ever bring New York City hospitals to their knees and result in so many corpses that they had to have freezer trucks outside hospitals?" questioned Dr. Rhame.

Our attempts to reach Father Altier were unsuccessful Thursday. Staff at St. Raphael declined to comment, although there were signs at the door acknowledging COVID-19 and advising that all visitors must wear masks.

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis released a statement saying, “The Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis is aware of Father Altier’s homily from last Sunday and has been in contact with him. With the assistance of experts in this area, the matter continues to be under review. Stemming from our belief in the dignity of all human life, the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis is committed to the safety and wellbeing of all people and has consistently collaborated with public health officials and government officials in the development of safety protocols for our parishes and schools. Please join with us in prayer for all those who are sick with COVID-19, those who care for them, and for individuals and families affected in any way by the pandemic. May all we do reflect the compassionate face of Christ the healer to one another.”