Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Benedict Versus… [Fr. Callan]

November 19th, 2010, Promulgated by b a

Inspired by the hit TV show Shaq Versus, I’ve decided to embark upon a similarly themed blog series entitled Benedict Versus. The first post (or couple) will put Benedict against Fr. Jim Callan of Spiritus Christi fame. Why Fr. Callan you ask? After all, he’s outside of the Church now, isn’t he? Well, sort of. A friend recently lent me Fr. Callan’s book The Studentbaker Corporation. I’m still in the first few chapters, but I can tell you it is quite eye opening. First of all, you’ll find a web of relationships between Fr. Callan and many people still active in our diocese. Second of all, many clergy (and psuedo-clergy) in our diocese espouse the same views he presents in this book. They just weren’t rock-star enough to get the kind of movement started that he did.

[Fr. Callan] “I’ve got a big decision to make. An ultimatum has just arrived from the bishop’s office. Either I sign a loyalty oath or I’m suspended from the priesthood.”

[Fr. Callan] laid out the dilemma:
A.) Make a compromise; sign the oath; stay in the system and work for change, or
B.) Give witness on behalf of women and others on the margin of the church; don’t sign the oath; lose a place for change inside the system.  [pp 1-2]

I give Fr. Callan credit for sticking to his principles and choosing option B). Many priests, priestesses, and lay-people here have chosen to go w/ option A). They choose to live a lie. Make no mistake, though, that they truly believe they are doing the will of God by working for change inside the “system”. This leaves us with the unfortunate situation of having to be skeptical of our own clergy. Sadly enough, one must almost assume guilty until proven innocent. Unless a clergyman or parish pledges allegiance to the Magisterium, you have to understand that they may very well be working for “change inside the system”. They have to be cryptic when doing so or they run the risk of being exposed and being faced with the above dilemma. This is why they shy from the light. Our bishop knows the game – he knows exactly how far he can go w/out explicitly endorsing views contrary to the Catholic Faith. Articles like his “All are beloved children of God” make it pretty clear where he stands.

Other interesting tidbits:

  • Fr. Callan dedicates the book to the late Bishop Hogan (bishop of the diocese of Rochester from ’69-’78).
  • Relevant to a somewhat recent post, “[Cesar] Chavez became a role model for us.” [p19]

Go buy the book, but not too many. We don’t want to fund Spiritus’ missions.  So I’ve rambled on enough for one post and you’re still wondering when Benedict is going to make his appearance.  Looks like we only have time for a brief warm-up here.

In this corner – Fr. Callan

They [Fr. Callan’s mentor priests] planted in me the idea that I could be a missionary right here in Rochester, rather than go to a foreign county.  I decided I would be like them.  Who needs the cassock and the clerical collar?  Who needed a fancy car?  Who needed a nice place to live?  I didn’t want anything to separate me from the people.  I wanted to be a person among other persons, building projects to serve the poor, reclaiming abandoned property, ministering to the people in the greatest need, reaching out to those who got ignored by society.  [p 22]

This all sounds peachy and his desire to help those less fortunate is quite commendable. The problem lies in the fact that he begins to worship the desire to make the world just according to his own views. He also is quite judgmental of those who don’t share his views.

and in this corner – Pope Benedict XVI (Jesus of Nazareth – Chapter Two: Temptations of Jesus)

Moral posturing is part and parcel of temptation. It does not invite us directly to do evil — no, that would be far too blatant. It pretends to show us a better way, where we finally abandon our illusions and throw ourselves into the work of actually making the world a better place. It claims, moreover, to speak for true realism: What’s real is what is right there in front of us — power and bread. By comparison, the things of God fade into unreality, into a secondary world that no one really needs. [pp 28-29]

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12 Responses to “Benedict Versus… [Fr. Callan]”

  1. Dr. K says:

    I own all of Callan’s books (purchased through resellers not affiliated with Spiritus) and this one is by far the most interesting. Why is it interesting? Because he names names. Two in particular which come up a lot who are still priests today are Frs. Dennis Shaw and William Spilly. Not a coincidence that these two priests receive a lot of coverage here at Cleansing Fire for their antics and promotion of dissent.

    In chapter two he describes how he and Spilly handed out pamphlets accusing the seminary of “political elimination.” In chapter three he mentions an incident which resulted in his and Spilly’s arrest. Back in chapter two again he recalls when he and Shaw refused to pay the diploma fee.

    Seminary during that era was filled with this kind of defiance and liberal infestation, and we have very few good priests to show from it (those being Fr. Antinarelli, Fr. Leone and a couple others).

  2. Choirloft says:

    If you want to buy the book, go to and search on the title – The Studentbaker Corporation. I just searched and found 8 books. Don’t give Spiritus your money.

  3. Scott W. says:

    Sadly enough, one must almost assume guilty until proven innocent. Unless a clergyman or parish pledges allegiance to the Magisterium, you have to understand that they may very well be working for “change inside the system”. They have to be cryptic when doing so or they run the risk of being exposed and being faced with the above dilemma.

    Bingo. This is why I’ve noticed when clergy do what I call “death to sound doctrine by 1,000 plausibly deniable cuts.” I see it most often with homosexuality in which the priest will talk about compassion and non-descrimination, but stay conspicuously silent about the fact that homosexual acts are wrong; meanwhile their parish profile web-page will have testimonies where Frank and his “spouse” Richard have found a wonderful parish home.

    We have a right to know if our leaders are authentic witnesses. I remember when someone was defending Reiki practice and I came up with the Three-Point Inquisition. That is, I’ll consider giving [insert dubious practice or teaching] a break, if you defenders affirm that 1. The Eucharist is the body, blood, soul and divinity of Our Lord. 2. Abortion, contraception, and homosexual acts are intrinsic and grave wrongs. 3. The Church has no authority to ordain women to the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

    I usually get crickets chirping when I ask that.

  4. BigE says:

    Priests at their ordination do not make a pledge of obediance to the world wide church or to the magisterium (whoever you think that is?). They pledge their obediance and respect to the local bishop.

    So in theory, NO priest has ever pledged his allegiance to the magisterium.

  5. Dr. K says:

    It is my understanding that during the consecration of bishops, the bishop promises obedience to the Holy See. So if a priest promises obedience to his bishop (A->B), and a bishop promises obedience to the Holy See (B->C), then the priest should also be obedient to the Holy See through the bishop (A->C).

  6. BigE says:

    @Dr. K

    1) My statement was that no priest ever has made a pledge to the world wide church, or as the blogger stated; to “the magisterium”. The Pope is certainly a part of, but not soley either of these. So I think my statement stands.

    2) And continuing with your logic, since the Pope serves Christ (C->D). I guess everyone is really just vowing their obediance to God (A->D).

  7. Anonymous says:

    Tell that to the “crew” @ the DOR!!

  8. Dr. K says:

    And continuing with your logic, since the Pope serves Christ (C->D). I guess everyone is really just vowing their obediance to God (A->D).

    Of course.

  9. Scott W. says:

    When I worked as a ccd instructor, I remember signing an employmement agreement that included language that I would not teach anything contrary to the Catholic Faith. I imagine just about every diocese has this and it wouldn’t surprise me if it is in the DOR as well and just dismissed with a wink and a nudge to the ribs. So, I suppose we could try to look at the painting with our nose one millimeter from the canvas and argue over whether there is an explicit oath to the magesterium, but I think it better to point out that there is an assumption that our leaders are Catholic and accept all the Church proposes for belief. Unfortunately, that is something that can no longer be taken for granted, and frankly more power to the laity for attempting to blow away the fog of vague language and conspicuous omissions from our leaders. We Are Church. (Ouch! Who threw that boomerang?)

  10. A Catholic says:

    On the subject of Benedict vs. Fr. Callan: I was in Rome for with some other Rochesterians for a short visit in the late 1990’s during the time the Corpus/Spiritus problem was going on. We had the opportunity to go to the then Cardinal Ratzinger’s Thursday morning German Mass. After the Mass, he spent some time talking to those in attendance. We told him, in English, that we were from Rochester, NY, USA. His reply was “Ah Rochester, I know Rochester!” said in such a way that led us to believe that he was well aware of the problems in the diocese, including the Corpus/Spiritus situation under the leadership of Father Callan. It will be interesting to see, if, God willing, Benedict is still Pope in 2012, who he will name as our new bishop.

  11. benanderson says:

    in regards to the Magisterium, what I originally meant was just whether the priest or parish displays allegiance to it – not what they officially pledged when they became priests or when they become pastors of a particular church. If the priest quotes from official Church teaching, there’s a good chance the value Magisterial teaching. If the quote from Reader’s Digest, there’s a good chance they don’t. If the parish’s “mission statement” has about 15 bullet points which talk of community and diversity and mention nothing about Catholicity, there’s a good chance you’re money and efforts are working towards “change”.

  12. BigE says:


    Nice last answer. I love it when we boil our faith down to its true essence. Our love of Jesus Christ. That is certainly the strongest bond that brings us all together.

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