Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Spiritus gets “whisper”ed, article in Cleveland Newspaper

April 3rd, 2011, Promulgated by Abaccio

Here I sat, ready to commence Part IV of a continuing series on the New Translation, briefly checking a few of my daily blog reads when I saw that Rocco Palmo, author of Whispers in the Loggia, a Vatican rumors blog, tweeted

Albeit in schism, “independent” Rochester parish said to be “flourishing”:

First off, I question the choice to encourage this sort of thing without a disclaimer.  The wording of the tweet conveys a certain view…that it’s no less a parish, simply because it’s in schism, or perhaps that, if they’re flourishing, there’s something to emulate.  Rocco could have construed this in a vastly different manner.  Instead, he seems to be encouraging it.  Perhaps I’m reading too far into a tweet, but you can make your own judgement. The article referenced follows, with my commentary and emphasis

Breakaway Catholic flock flourishing in New York

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — At Spiritus Christi Church, the choir at Saturday night Mass sings the lyrics of “Amazing Grace” to the tune of “House of the Rising Sun” — a song about a brothel. [Fitting, no?  After all, the concept of sexual morality is nonexistent at Spiritus.]
Surely, such a tune for a sacred service would never meet the approval of the Rochester Roman Catholic Diocese. [Don’t give them any ideas.]  In any case, it has nothing to do with the Diocese.  In 1903, Pope St Pius X wrote: “Still, since modern music has risen mainly to serve profane uses, care must be taken that musical compositions in this style admitted to the Church may contain nothing profane, be free from reminiscences of theatrical motives, and be not fashioned, even in their external forms, after the manner of profane pieces.” ]
Then again, nothing about Spiritus Christi meets the diocese’s approval. [Here we go again.  Let’s recall how Bishop Clark did NOTHING to stop the abuses when they started, and it took a Vatican intervention for something to be done.]
Spiritus Christi, like the Community of St. Peter in Cleveland, is a breakaway Catholic parish at odds with its bishop. [No, it is not Catholic in any way, and they are at odds with more than just the local Bishop.  They are at odds with the one Church Christ founded, and at odds with Him.]
The Rev. James Callan, 63, now assistant pastor of Spiritus Christi, has been fired from the Rochester diocese and excommunicated from the Roman rite. [Fired!  He excommunicated himself, and was told to stop before he was “FIRED”]
The Rev. Robert Marrone, 63, of St. Peter’s is awaiting “canonical action” after refusing Bishop Richard Lennon’s order in January to resign from his breakaway flock. [Incidentally, this arose due to inaction by another of Jadot’s Boys, Bishop Pilla]
Marrone and his parishioners began worshipping in a leased commercial building last August, four months after Lennon closed their church in downtown Cleveland as part of the diocese’s downsizing. [And, folks, this is why Corpus Christi/Our Lady of the Americas has remained open.  Imagine the PR nightmare if Fr. Callan was allowed to “win.”]
Callan and his followers rented space in a Protestant church 12 years ago after locking horns with the diocese over church teachings.
Some might say Spiritus Christi is not a real Catholic church [ding ding ding] because its pastor is a woman, it blesses gay unions and serves communion to anyone, regardless of their faith — three big sins in the eyes of the Holy See. [And, more importantly, God]
But don’t tell this rebel congregation it’s not real. [See what he did here?  ‘Not Catholic’ got turned into ‘Not Real’] According to Callan, it is the largest [not] Catholic church within Rochester’s city limits, with 1,500 members, 33 full- and part-time employees and an annual operating budget of $1.7 million.
“This is history in the making,” said parishioner Cindy McClurg, 53, attending a recent Sunday Mass in a packed, 880-seat concert hall downtown. “We’re still a Catholic-faith-based church. [A what, exactly?] People say, ‘You’re not going to make it.’ But we are making it. And we’ve been making it for 12 years.” [I’m sorry, but twelve years isn’t even the blink of an eye in the course of salvation history]
McClurg and hundreds of people filling the concert hall had been members of Rochester’s Corpus Christi Catholic Church, where Callan had been the pastor for more than 20 years.
In 1998, the year Callan was fired[!!!] by his bishop, Corpus Christi had nearly 3,000 parishioners, eight social service ministries, 70 employees and a $2.5 million annual budget. [Is this what really matters? A parish is not a business.]
But Callan had been raising eyebrows in the diocese for years. Beginning in 1988, he allowed a woman lay leader of the church — who today serves as its pastor — to stand with him at the altar and recite prayers only a priest is allowed to say. [It took over a DECADE for Bishop Clark to take action. ELEVEN YEARS!]
In 1993[a full 5 years before Clark was forced to take action…], he started performing marriage services for gays. Even before that, he had strayed from church teachings by inviting everyone in the pews to take communion, even non-Catholics.
“Everyone is welcome at God’s table,” he said. [This attitude removes the need for holiness.  The story of the rich young ruler shows that there are preconditions…]
But the diocese disagreed [notice how this is cast as a battle between the big bad diocese and the poor, well-meaning priest?] and ordered Callan to stop his “liturgical abuses” or face dismissal from Corpus Christi.
“I told them, ‘I’m not going to betray all those people I’ve stood with for years,’ ” said Callan. He was fired in August 1998. Callan says the diocese, which declined to discuss Callan and Spiritus Christi, took away his salary and health care but promised him he would get his pension when he retires. [These things normally happen when someone loses his job for insubordination after repeated warnings…]
Six months later — after Callan and 1,100 Corpus Christi members had broken away from the diocese, renamed their community Spiritus Christi and leased worship space in a historical Presbyterian church — he was excommunicated.
A front-page story in the city’s newspaper, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, quoted the diocese chancellor, the Rev. Kevin McKenna, saying, “By starting this new church, Father Callan is in schism . . . he has excommunicated himself from the Roman Catholic Church.”
The diocese said all his followers had excommunicated themselves as well.
But Callan said neither the diocese nor the Vatican presented the defectors with official excommunication documents. [Canon 1364 states, …an apostate from the faith, a heretic, or a schismatic incurs a latae sententiae excommunication” latae sententiae penalty follows automatically, by force of the law itself, when the law is contravened.]
“The church says a person excommunicates himself,” said Callan. “That’s nonsense. That’s like driving through a stop sign and giving myself a ticket.”[Excommunication is a spiritual exclusion; the person excommunicated is not longer a Catholic and no longer receives any spiritual benefits from the prayers of the Church, especially the Mass.  You cut yourself off from God.  Nobody else can cut you off from Him.]
In an e-mail message responding to a request for an interview, a spokesman for the diocese said, “We are not in communion with Spiritus Christi Church and do not wish to comment.” [seems to have gotten it backwards…]
But interviews with Spiritus Christi members show the congregation is generally undaunted about its mass excommunication. Most shrug. Others call it a badge of honor. [Let us pray for them, shall we?]
“If we have the power to excommunicate ourselves, we certainly have the power to un-excommunicate ourselves,” said Sister Margie Henninger, 70, a St. Joseph nun who was ousted from her order for following the rebels. [Yes, this is true.  You can certainly come back to God by way of a good confession.]
Parishioner Margaret Wittman, 82, said, “God doesn’t excommunicate. The church excommunicates. The pope excommunicates. But God draws a bigger circle and keeps us in.” [Except when He punishes sin.  Adam and Eve disobeyed, and God’s ‘bigger circle’ involved kicking them out of paradise, allowing them to suffer and die, and the souls of their progeny were stained by their sin.  Bigger circle, indeed.]

The circle at Spiritus Christi includes Mary Ramerman, the woman who had joined Callan at the altar when she worked for the diocese as a lay minister at Corpus Christi. She had been a pastoral associate for 15 years until she was fired two months after Callan was let go. [Note here that Ramerman is the model for our female lay administrators, playing dress-up and pretending to serve a liturgical role.  We here at CF do not attack this unlawful role without just cause.]

“They said I could stay if I don’t go near the altar and I stop preaching,” said Ramerman. “They also told me I was a pastoral assistant, not a pastoral associate.

“By the time they fired me, I had already decided who I was, and I wasn’t going to let them shape me.” [Non Serviam! I will NOT serve! You can practically hear the prideful manner in which she emulates Lucifer, rather than Christ or his Blessed Mother.]

In November 2001, Ramerman, 55, who is married with three kids and holds a degree in theology, was [pretend] ordained by a bishop from California [a member of the 140 years schismatic “old catholics”]who administers outside the Roman rite. [And, more importantly, outside the Church.  The Maronite Patriach administers outside the Roman rite, but within the Church.  Catholicism is not just the Roman Rite of the Latin Church.] The [pretend] ordination ceremony was held in Rochester’s Eastman Theatre before 3,000 people.

The Rev. Ramerman, who committed a major “liturgical abuse” [actually, I’d call that an act of formal schism…] by being ordained in the Catholic faith, which forbids [is incapable of ordaining…]women priests, is now pastor of Spiritus Christi.

“They make a big deal out of liturgical abuses,” she said in a recent interview. “But not so much out of child abuses.” [zzzzzzing! Shall we have Red Herring for dinner?]

Callan, as assistant pastor, and Ramerman usually work together, saying Masses and performing baptisms, weddings and funerals. Callan still follows the traditions of the Catholic priesthood.

“I feel called to the celibate life,” he said.

But when he tried to buy a grave plot for himself in Holy Sepulcher [sic] Cemetery owned by the diocese, he was denied.

“I said, ‘What? I’m more dangerous dead than alive?’ ” he laughed.

Though Callan is not welcome into the gates of Holy Sepulcher [sic], his parishioners are.

“The diocese is making money on us,” said Callan, who buries about 40 people a year. “And they said that Mary and I led the people astray, so it’s not their fault.”

Callan said he bought a plot for himself at a city cemetery where Susan B. Anthony, a pioneer in women’s rights, and Frederick Douglass, an ex-slave and abolitionist, are buried. “I’ll be in good company there,” he said.

The funerals of Anthony (March 17, 1906) and Douglass (February 26, 1895) were held at Central Presbyterian Church, which is now Hochstein Memorial Music School, where Spiritus Christi holds one of its two Sunday Masses.

For other Masses — one every day — it uses nearby Downtown United Presbyterian Church and Immanuel Baptist Church.

“We’re roaming Catholics,” joked Callan, who, with Ramerman, drives every Sunday to a Spiritus Christi satellite church in Elmira, N.Y., 120 miles away, to celebrate Mass.

Callan holds no bitterness toward Rochester Bishop Mathew Clark. He said Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict VI, wrote a letter to Clark in July 1998, demanding that the bishop remove Callan from Corpus Christi. [And, finally, the truth comes out….watch what happens]

“It was very hard on him when all this happened,” said Callan, who still sends Christmas cards to Clark. “He’s a good bishop. He knew what was going on. He didn’t support us verbally, but he kept a protective umbrella over us.” [Yes, Bishop Clark willfully ignored heresy and dissent, which led to schism.  Let’s make sure everybody knows that.]

That umbrella is no longer needed, now that Spiritus Christi stands on its own. The breakaway church owns and operates three houses in the city for social-service programs — sheltering and counseling recovering substance abusers and people getting out of prison.

It is also preparing to build a 39-unit apartment building with a mix of market-rate and low-income units. [Again, the Church is not supposed to be a business conglomerate…]

The project is scheduled for construction on an empty lot that was once the site of a polling place. Susan B. Anthony was arrested there for voting in the presidential election of 1872, 48 years before women won the right to vote. [See how they connected this? This is an issue of women’s rights, of gay rights, of civil rights…They’re modern day prophets! Pride, pride, pride.]

The building will include a street-level caf with a Susan B. Anthony theme.

“Our church is centered on the poor and the marginalized,” said Callan, noting that his congregation gives 15 percent of its collections to charities and social justice programs. “Jesus made the poor his priority.”

Spiritus Christi is 85 percent white, two-thirds [schismatic] Catholic and one-third other denominations and faiths. About half of the congregation lives in the city.

On a recent Sunday, the stage in the historical music hall was accented with flowers, candles and crucifixes around a portable altar.

Upstage, a 25-member choir, accompanied by piano, guitars, saxophone and drums, filled the house with rafter-ringing harmonies.

Callan addressed the multitude: “Take a deep breath. Breathe in the Holy Spirit. As you breathe out, drop your shoulders and your worries.”

During Communion, sax player Bill Tiberio wailed a solo, while singer Myra Brown wrapped up the Mass with a gooseflesh-raising gospel tune, hitting some Aretha Franklin-style crescendos.

The sanctuary had the feel of an African-American church [filled with 85 percent white people…] as the faithful swayed and clapped their hands, pushing aside traditional Catholic ritual.

When I leave here, I feel I’ve got something,” parishioner Clarence Cibella, 51, said after the service. “I feel good.” [If you don’t feel God’s presence, He’s not there?  That seems to be his point]

Parishioner Richard Kaza, 60, said, “There’s no guilt here. Everybody’s smiling. In the old church, I was taught about the fear of God. This is about the love of God.” [It is those who do not feat God that ought to fear Him the most…]

When Callan was excommunicated 12 years ago, he was quoted in The New York Times as saying he believed that within 10 to 12 years the church establishment will catch up with the ideas of Spiritus Christi and embrace them. [And in 10 more years, 100 more years, 1000 more years, he will still be wrong.]

Today, he laughs at that notion. “I guess I should have tacked on another 20 years when I said that.”

Thriving. Eighty-five percent white, smaller than 15 years ago, and not a single member mentioned in this article was under 50 years of age.  The youth are all FLOCKING to Spiritus, alright!  If you know someone who attends Spiritus Christi, PRAY FOR THEM.  God knows they need it!

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10 Responses to “Spiritus gets “whisper”ed, article in Cleveland Newspaper”

  1. Dr. K says:

    I find nothing funny about leading people into the hands of Satan. Chuckle it up all you want, Mr. Callan, for we will all meet our Maker one day and receive His justice.

    I’m disappointed in Rocco.

  2. Mike says:

    I saw the Plain Dealer article Saturday and decided to give it a pass. Too bad Rocco didn’t do the same.

  3. Thinkling says:

    My first reaction was the whole article was Rocco’s, to which, after reading it, I duly thought the apocalypse is truly upon us. But then I noticed the Cleveland paper connection and relaxed … somewhat.

    Rocco usually writes with a quite dispassionate tone, sometimes to a fault, so his tweet isn’t completely out of character. But yes perhaps somewhat. By putting “parish” in scare quotes, he could have addressed most of my concern with the tweet. But not all. A sentence with three sets of scare quotes is, um, well, er, probably not worth tweeting in the first place.

    Which I suspect was Ab’s point on the OP.

    I wish to give kudo’s to Ab for the great “Red Herring” zinger. With Pat Archibald’s “We hold these untruths to be self-evident” and Mark Shea’s “the vacation from history” (about the 1990s), it’s been a great week on the Catholic blogosphere for wordsmiths like me.

  4. A Catholic says:

    The whole Spiritus situation is very sad, especially given that Fr. Callan, according to one of his books, grew up in family that was devoted to Mary and prayed the rosary together. I wonder if he dropped that habit. I know of faithful Catholics who used to be involved at Corpus Christi in the 1980’s with the parish before it went off the deep end. It was a gradual step by step process that if dealt with early on, may have not gotten to the point it reached in 1998. As it is now, so many people have been led away to Spiritus (including many of the good people doing works of mercy at St. Joseph’s House of Hospitality). The diocese has no response of a life-giving orthodoxy that would inspire people to stay with the Church. Another task that the new bishop with have.

  5. annonymouse says:

    I think Mr. Callan’s allusion to himself as Christ (I am more dangerous dead than alive?) is absolutely telling. It’s difficult to imagine a man more enamored with himself.

  6. JLo says:

    Perhaps the DOR still quietly accepts Spiritus Christi Church. About two years ago when I was a member of the Irondequoit Senior Ministry that visits senior housing facilities to do communion services for shut-ins, a woman volunteered to me that she was a member of Spiritus Christi. I emphasize that she VOLUNTEERED the information, because it was made very clear to us by the ISM that we do not play police and question anyone, and I agreed with that, that I was not to take a roll call when I arrived to lead these communion services! I could presume that all who presented themselves were indeed Catholic.

    However, since the woman volunteered the information (after the service while we were discussing something else entirely), I told her that she should not present herself for receiving the Eucharist the next time. I told her she was certainly welcome for the service, but could not receive since she was not in communion with the Catholic Church. I was treated to her displeasure, but told her it was out of my hands, that we were dealing with the rubrics of Holy Mother Church, things I do not disobey.

    The lady called Buffalo Road. The priest she talked with there then called Donna Walker, the leader of ISM, and Donna Walker called me. She told me that I must not withhold the Eucharist from that lady the next time I met up with her for a communion service. She told me that the priest from the Chancery told her that I MUST give the lady the Eucharist, and Donna told me I must obey that directive. I repeated and made her repeat what she had just told me, to make sure I had just heard right and so I did not mistake exactly what she was instructing me to do, that is, to give the Eucharist to a non-Catholic. At the end of that conversation, I respectfully declined the order and quit that “ministry” on the spot.

    Funny how this all comes up… many in that ISM group thought I was bounced out of that ministry because I did something “wrong”. I don’t believe I ever told the story to anyone except the deacon who had recommended me to the ISM.

    Do I know who the priest was? No, Donna Walker would not tell me. Many in our diocese THINK they are working for the Church, but they are not working as Jesus would have them… they are not dealing in the Truth as the Church gives it to us, but as the progressive leadership of this diocese has dictated for over 30 years. I hope we get a very strong, very patient but very tenacious shepherd to the Truth some 467 days from now. There is so much to rebuild, so many to reclaim. +JMJ

  7. Scott W. says:

    I sometimes make the joke that America is not Right vs. Left but rather Catholics vs. Unitarians. Reading Callan makes me think it is more than joke.

  8. A Catholic says:

    JLo, You did the right thing.

  9. At the end of the day, it’s all about Jim.

  10. Phoebe says:

    Appears to be “flourishing” in the way that the new non-denominational church is in Pheonix led by the disgraced lifeteen founder.

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