The six-hour rally, held at the MECU Pavilion adjacent to the hotel hosting the assembly, featured a slew of speakers, including “canceled priest” Father James Altman, controversial author Milo Yiannopoulos, leaders of Catholic organizations, and many others.
Speaking to CNA on Monday, Yiannopoulos said he did not think that Church leaders are afraid of Mass-going Catholics.
“And I think perhaps they ought to be, because there is a huge rupture coming" between faithful Catholics and those Catholic leaders who contradict Church teaching, he said.
"Something big is building, something big is coming."
In 2017, Yiannopoulos resigned from Breitbart News and saw his book canceled after an old video of him defending sexual relations between adults and young boys resurfaced.
Yiannopoulos, who himself is a survivor of clerical sexual abuse, said that he eventually “came to realize some of the consequences it had on me, and the lack of acknowledgment, support, seriousness from everybody I went to about it thereafter. And I've come to view the subject with renewed seriousness."
Yiannopoulos said he feels he has an obligation to speak out and hold bishops accountable. "I have by no means the most horrendous, harrowing story, but if I can help to draw attention to people who do have those histories, the wreckage in their lives, in some cases, if I can help them, then I should, and I must, so I am," he said.
Signs at the event carried such slogans as “MILLSTONES BISHOPS MILLSTONES,” “Monsters in Mitres,” and “We’re on the side of St. Michael and the angels!”
Among those CNA spoke to at the rally were Mary Ann Leimbach and Barbara Flatley, who came from the Eastern Shore of Maryland.
“I need an institution I can believe in and I need the Church to clean up their act,” Leimbach told CNA. “No more of this halfway cleaning it up.”
Leimbach told CNA that she has 16 grandchildren, and they are her primary motivator for pushing for reform in the Church.
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“I want them to have this Church,” she said, “and I just don't see how they're going to do it if [the bishops] don't clean up their act.”
Flatley, Leimbach’s friend, told CNA that she had come into the Catholic faith with the help of some of the speakers at the rally, particularly Altman.
Altman was removed from ministry in July 2021, after Bishop William Callahan of La Crosse, Wisc. sought privately to correct the priest for statements he made in social media that some Catholics cheered and others viewed as inflammatory.
“Because of COVID and shutting down the churches, I started listening to different Catholic services with my husband, who is Catholic,” said Flatley. She said prior to entering RCIA, she considered herself to be a “very high Episcopal.”
“And because of Father Altman and Father Jonathan Meyer in Indiana, I have gotten a real strong faith because of them, but I would like the Catholic Church to be a hierarchy that we could believe in,” she said.
“We had to take a stand,” said William Bennett of Chambersburg, Pa., another Altman supporter. “I wanted to try to get our Church back. I think it’s been infiltrated from the inside for a long time.”