Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Fr. Spilly Promotes Two Dissident Organizations

November 8th, 2012, Promulgated by Dr. K

Fr. Spilly to attend CTA again

Fr. William Spilly, pastor of the declining St. Elizabeth Ann Seton parish in Hamlin (now averaging 417 weekly attendees), boasted in his parish bulletin last weekend about his upcoming pilgrimage to the notorious “Call to Action” conference. Why is this a problem, you might ask?

Take a look at their homepage to discover CTA’s disturbing endorsements:

  • PRO- GAY MARRIAGE: “We are deeply gratified that Governor Martin O’Malley has joined fellow Catholic governors Andrew Cuomo of New York and Christine Gregoire of Washington in signing marriage equality legislation into law.” …and…“We are delighted that another Catholic governor has signed marriage equality legislation into law. Governor Christine Gregoire is a member of the ever-increasing Catholic majority that supports laws assuring fair and equal treatment for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their families.”…and… “We support marriage equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people not in spite of being Catholic, but because we are Catholic. As Catholics, we believe that we are all beloved children of God, and we want the laws of our land to mandate fairness, justice, and equality for all.”
  • PRO- BIRTH CONTROL, ABORTION: “Stand up for women this July 4th and celebrate the fact that the United States promotes religious liberty for everyone, not just bishops.” …and… “The Bishops don’t want to offer contraception to employees at Catholic hospitals and universities, citing religious liberty. But what about the religious liberty and conscience of the employees who work at these institutions who are both Catholic and non-Catholic? Don’t they have a right to decide their health care options?”
  • ANTI- HIERARCHICAL, PRO-DISSIDENT NUNS: ““At a time when the church hierarchy is beset by scandal, faithful Catholics are looking for moral leadership and have clearly placed their vote of confidence with the sisters,” said Jim FitzGerald, spokesperson for the Nun Justice Project and Executive Director of Call To Action.”
  • PRO- HOMOSEXUAL ACTS, MASTURBATION: “The Vatican’s legalistic parsing of Sister Margaret Farley’s work will only enhance her well-deserved reputation as a gifted scholar. Rome’s attempt to steer Catholics away from Just Love will serve instead as a recommendation for all those who seek a sexual ethic rooted in justice and mutuality, rather than in platitudes and abstractions. The positions Sr. Margaret articulates resonates with many Catholics, who seek to live out the values of our faith in the context of real life.”
  • PRO- PRIESTESSES, INVALID ORDINATIONS, INVALID MASSES: “Thirteen cities across the country will see Catholics holding protest vigils during Holy Week in support of women’s equality in the Catholic Church, including woman priests. ” …and… “Sign this petition that will be hand-carried by Fr. Roy Bourgeois, his lawyer and church justice leaders to the Vatican in October as part of a delegation witnessing for women’s ordination.”
  • PRO- RADICAL FEMINISM: “In the last few weeks, we have seen one attack after another against those who help our churches and mission but are denied a voice on decisions that affect them: church workers. March 12th, marks the third anniversary of Bishop Morlino’s firing of Ruth Kolpack–a dedicated church worker who spent 26 years of her life serving her local parish in the Diocese of Madison, only to be fired because she would not recant her master’s thesis on inclusive language.”
  • ANTI- ROMAN MISSAL TRANSLATION REVISION: ” Catholics across the country are about to go through one of the most widespread changes since the reforms of Vatican II: the words we speak at mass are about to change. Call To Action wants to ensure Catholics know the real history behind the mass translations and the Vatican’s unjust maneuvers to get them done. “

And this is just the first page! If you delve deeper into CTA’s archives, you’ll discover a long and detailed history of positions at odds with Catholic teaching.

Former prefect of the Congregation of Bishops, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, had this to say about Call to Action:

“The judgment of the Holy See is that the activities of ‘Call to Action’ in the course of these years are in contrast with the Catholic faith due to views and positions held which are unacceptable from a doctrinal and disciplinary standpoint. Thus to be a member of this association or to support it is irreconcilable with a coherent living of the Catholic faith.”

The long-tenured outgoing bishop of Lincoln, Fabian Bruskewitz, even went so far as to excommunicate members of CTA, with full approval of the Vatican. Yet here we are in the Diocese of Rochester, where diocesan priest Fr. Spilly is permitted to publicly acknowledge his membership in this anti-Catholic organization in a parish bulletin. Furthermore, Father links to CTA’s website on his parish homepage… and it’s the first link!
Surprise of all surprises, he also links to dissenting organizations such as Future Church and Voice of the Faithful. A couple years ago, the schismatic Spiritus Christi church could be found in his parish’s recommended links (see below).
Fr. Spilly reveals his membership in, and promotes, another questionable “Catholic” reform organization in this weekend’s bulletin column – Association of U.S. Catholic Priests. I’ll let Father speak to you about what this organization stands for:

Fr. Spilly on the Association of U.S. Catholic priests

Some highlights –
  • “Re-structuring the governing system of the Church that will ground its leadership in Christ-centered proclamation, service and love, avoiding any tendency of control and fear.”
  • “Accepting primacy of the individual conscience and an end to the present secretive processes where active and loyal members of the Church are perceived as “dissidents””
  • “Re-evaluating Catholic sexual teaching and pastoral practice that would recognize the profound mystery of human sexuality as well as the experience and wisdom of God’s people”
Perusing the Association’s website reveals other troubling comments:
  • “Bishop Tom Gumbleton spoke about how Vatican II changed his ministry from focusing on “saving souls” to answering the call to promote social justice.”
  • “Many of the comments expressed in these gatherings  are similar to those of previous gatherings.  The New Roman Missal was not greatly appreciated.  One mentioned that there was too much concern about the afterlife and not enough about here and now. Some mentioned that there was a sense of fear and intimidation in the church today.  “
  • “Using techniques from the Tampa schedule, the Cincinnati-area priests began with a session lamenting their experiences of the post-Vatican II Church followed by a session on hopes and dreams for the future.The lamentations were similar to those at the Florida gathering: abuse of power, fear, the Roman Missal debacle, the rift between younger and older priests, loss of vitality in the Church, hierarchical arrogance, lack of dialogue”
  • “The convention began with  a session in which priests were invited to verbalize their “laments” about their ministry … Their lamentations included recognition of a climate of fear, a distortion of Vatican II, the return of legalism and clericalism, the manner in which women are treated in the Church, stretching priests to the breaking point, struggles with the hierarchy, and loneliness.”

Why do I write about all this? Take a look at the past two presidential elections. The candidate most at odds with Church teaching won both times, and with a majority of the Catholic vote! Look at our parishes on Sunday and see how empty they have become. Check out the various surveys of so-called Catholics where over 90% openly admit to using artificial birth control. Our nation is descending into cultural rot, and Catholics are going down with it if not leading the charge. Is it any wonder that so many Catholics disregard Church teaching when you have priests like Fr. Spilly openly challenging the Faith in their parish bulletins and homilies? I beg our Apostolic Administrator and the next bishop to put a stop to open dissent from Rochester priests. Unlike what Bp. Gumbleton said at the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests conference, the ministry of the bishop and priest IS to save souls. Please start doing it!

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24 Responses to “Fr. Spilly Promotes Two Dissident Organizations”

  1. Ben Anderson says:

    amen, DrK. How ironic that he speaks of justice when it is an injustice to be a Catholic priest while openly dissenting like this.

  2. snowshoes says:

    Thank you, Dr. K. Let us pray that this evening Bishop Cunningham will give Father Spilly the charitable ultimatum: either obey or leave the Catholic ministerial priesthood this moment. Saint Kateri, pray for us.

  3. annonymouse says:

    This article makes me ill. That we have priests, who take a vow of obedience, so full of themselves in their sinful pride that they brazenly lead the faithful astray is an absolute abomination. Thankfully, I am not going to be the judge of Father Spilly on the last day, but I suspect he’ll be there brazenly telling God where He is wrong and needs ot change.

    Please, God, send us a bishop with the fortitude and will to bring discipline to our local Church, so that such priests may devote themselves to fostering unity and peace.

    Really, what I want to know is what I’ve asked others – WHY would someone like Father Spilly stay in the Catholic Church? Especially when the Episcopal Church already had embraced virtually everything on his list? Is he really that filled with pride that he stays around attempting to remake the Church in his own image?

  4. Bernie says:

    “WHY would someone like Father Spilly stay in the Catholic Church?”
    Because he can get away with doing what’s he’s doing and because he gets a paycheck and looks forward to a pension. That may not be a ton of money but it’s more financially secure than doing the honorable thing and leaving for a different Church.

  5. Ben Anderson says:

    And because he wants to bring about change. In their minds these people are amazingly courageous – fighting the good fight

  6. JLo says:

    May I take it that +Cunningham has been notified and given this man’s church bulletin? And thank you Dr. K for fighting the fight. +JMJ

  7. Richard Thomas says:

    Maybe the Holy Spirit is protecting that parish. Only 415 active mass attendees.

  8. Richard Thomas says:

    How old is he? How many more years till retirement?

  9. y2kscotty says:

    At the very least, Spilly should be called in to explain why the parish is “declining”, assuming that this allegation is true.
    And the next thing would be to have +Robert (our ApAd) tell Spilly to cease PUBLIC endorsement of CTA.
    Sometimes a word to the wise (so to speak) is sufficient to cool things down.
    +Robert may have to do something like this so that the next Bp of ROC won’t have to.

  10. Dr. K says:

    At the very least, Spilly should be called in to explain why the parish is “declining”, assuming that this allegation is true.

    Here is the official attendance data from the DoR:
    2000: 651
    2001: 676
    2002: 733
    2003: 698
    2004: 657
    2005: 572
    2006: 557
    2007: 546
    2008: 499
    2009: 481
    2010: 422

    Attendance has fallen 35% since 2000, the worst decline in the Northwest planning group. St. Leo’s in Hilton, also a member of the NW group, increased attendance by 14%.

  11. ROBERT says:

    Billy, Arn’t you ashamed?

  12. raymondfrice says:

    We would not see movements like “Call to Action” arising in the Church if at their annual/semi-annual meetings the bishops of the NCCB went on a retreat in an upper room somewhere (not the Hilton !!) and dealt with their own spirituality, motives, career objectives, and relationship with the laity. This “retreat”, like the retreats for the papal household, should be conducted by a spiritual “firebrand” (I think there are still a few around) who would shake them out of their “status quo” attitude. The sheep are on the ground and the shepherds are hiding way up (safely) in the trees!!!!!!!! They need to be grounded in their roles. They also seem to be hiding their “talents” (aka Gifts of the Spirit” in the ground because they are afraid.

    If they think they don’t need it, refer them to the data on our recent national elections.

  13. Richard Thomas says:


    Too many bishops are working for the other side.

  14. Diane Harris says:

    St. Leo is up in attendance because they have a good priest. The first thing Fr. Joe did in the parish was to move the tabernacle back front and center. When God comes first, people can tell the difference. By the way, with a “sede vacante” diocese at the moment, pastors have more leeway than they do when a bishop is here. How come those who acted like they didn’t want to have to move the tabernacle out of the way (attributing their doing so as due to a vow of obedience to E-Bp Clark,) how come they haven’t used this interregnum to move tabernacles back to a position of honor? I don’t believe a single pastor has done so. The statement is pretty clear.

  15. DanielKane says:

    In time, in a very short time, such road trips will become a thing of the past. Call to Action (CTA) itself is drying on the vine. But you really do not see such public shenanigans in other places. Priests from other places go on vacation and spend it at CTA, few indeed have the brass to announce it using official documents – like the Church Bulletin.

    I have participated in the raising of over $100 million dollars for the Church, the building of one parish from the ground up and two schools. EVERYTHING comes from and to the liturgy. Where Mass is reverent, Adoration is promoted and Confession is available easily and not by “appointment” the parish grows and the cash flows.

    Celebrate Mass by the book, priests and deacons – prepare like the professional you are for a homily. You expect your CPA and doctor to be prepared, you do likewise. Never let anyone usurp the role of the priest as chief catechist, homiletic and spiritual leader. Other doctors do not allow non-doctors to do surgery, lawyers do not let non-lawyers practice law, etc. There are few things priests MUST do and they MUST do them well. Sub out to qualified laity human resources, facilities and maintenance, marketing and communications. NEVER sub out preaching at Mass – to do so is the equivalent of a man subbing his fatherhood and husbandship it is unmanly and dysfunctional. Let the laity (and professed religious are laity) preach at catechism lectures, evenings of reflection, etc. – ANYWHERE BUT MASS. Wear quality vestments, burn incense and offer chant. Put the choir in the loft and minimize the persons in the sanctuary. Celebrate Mass like the priest you are – set apart for all eternity. If you expect your CPA do file your taxes legally and by the book, Joe six pack in the pew expects the same from you – and with the internet knows the difference.

    Eliminate the concept of some “super-laity” as Diane Harris has described. Placing the various good people who serve the Church where they belong – serving outside of the sanctuary and not working on Sunday. Laity typically do not vest, they do not preach and (properly) they do not distribute the Eucharist unless they are taking the Sacrament to a jail, nursing home or bed ridden. The concept of an “authorized preacher” is a dysfunctional one and makes the priesthood appear impotent and lazy.

    The secret is this – those who are of the”liberal” bent – whatever that is; “tip” and those of the “conservative” bent “give”. If a person is authentically “fed” by a Father who acts like one they will give. If they are given the musings of a well intended laity who thinks they have something to offer and helps with Communion they tip. That is my observation. Speak to any professional religious fundraiser and they will tell you the same thing.

    This will result in a reduced priesthood. I say fine. I would rather have a dozen priests from Africa who know who they are and what they are ordained to do than 100 priest who lack a priestly identity are fine being reduced to a “Sacramental Minister” and sit while others not ordained preach to and feed their flock. That is why in a nutshell the DoR is what it is.

    The actual population of the area is up by 45,000 and Mass attendance is down by 35% over the same time period. Few indeed are “Fathering” their flocks and there for allow a dysfunctional model to take root. This experiment needs to end.

  16. annonymouse says:

    Diane, I don’t think you should confuse the very serious situation whereby Father Spilly, a DoR pastor, is involved in a dissident and probably heretical group and unabashedly lets everyone know it, with the location of the tabernacle in our churches. I’ve posted this before, but the instructions call for the tabernacle to be placed prominently and in a place conducive to private adoration. There is no requirement, or even preference, for it to be “front and center.” That is a distraction, in my opinion, from the very serious situation at hand.

    With respect to Father Spilly – it is comforting to know that our new bishop will take office with an instant and urgent “to do” list.

  17. raymondfrice says:


    Nice comment on Father Joe over in Hilton. He was a lawyer before going to seminary, I believe, and is VERY adept at dealing with people. He listens and has common sense. He has also turned one of the school classrooms into a chapel where Mass can be said for small groups such as the 3rd Order Franciscans who meet there regularly. He also invites, on occassion, the Franciscans of the Renewal of New york City to come and give a one day retreat. However, I must warn you, if you plan on attending a small retreat there, given by the Franciscans, be prepared to be one of about 25 who may be in line for confession to the one Franciscan priest.

  18. snowshoes says:

    I second Mr. Kane’s idea that the priest is the father of his parish, and that the Church rightly reserves the fatherly duty of feeding the flock with the Word and the Holy Eucharist to the priest alone.

    Today’s Gospel warning against causing scandal, one of the scariest scriptures for me, applies no more directly to anyone than to the priest or bishop who is the formal cause of the priest shirking his duty to preach, and of enticing a poor dupe layman into committing the grave sin of attempting (and failing) to preach the homily at Mass. I am a sinner so I hesitate to point the finger, but not to warn those involved of the scandalous nature of such disobedience is itself a sin. Again, this sin is directly related to the sin of sexual abuse by priests. Lay preaching is the direct rotten fruit of sexual abuse by priests: it is the spiritual abuse of children, and it is as bad as, or worse than any other sin.

    I appeal directly to those good priests who feel put upon to permit it. Never consent to say Mass when a layman is “scheduled” to “preach”. Refusal may get you fired, but another door will open, even if it is to another diocese, or even if it’s onto the street, you will be that much closer to heaven. We are here to help you, and we will care for your temporal needs if you are fired. We promise. St. Kateri, pray for us.

  19. Diane Harris says:

    Annonymouse wrote: “Diane, I don’t think you should confuse the very serious situation whereby Father Spilly, a DoR pastor, is involved in a dissident and probably heretical group and unabashedly lets everyone know it, with the location of the tabernacle in our churches. I’ve posted this before, but the instructions call for the tabernacle to be placed prominently and in a place conducive to private adoration. There is no requirement, or even preference, for it to be “front and center.” That is a distraction, in my opinion, from the very serious situation at hand.”

    Annonymouse, I don’t think I am confused at all about how the location of the Tabernacle reflects attitude toward the Real Presence. While I agree with the criticisms of Fr. Spilly, and I have no idea about the tabernacle positioning in his church, I nevertheless call your attention to the fact that my comments were by way of responding to comments about how a loyal, faithful priest like Fr. Joe can draw people back to the Church, and of his respect for the Eucharist front and center.

    But I also disagree with your interpretation of the Vatican 2 liturgical conclusions and I would appreciate your specific citations, as it is my understanding that only in very few churches open to the public touring (such as St. Patrick’s in NYC) is it necessary to have a more private spot for prayer and adoration. To remove the Tabernacle Presence from a prominent spot to a hidden corner is more like putting the Light of Christ under a bushel, as if we were ashamed of Him, IMO. Or as if people were ashamed to be found in prayer before the Tabernacle. It is horrible to walk into a church and not be able to find the tabernacle. For example, at St. Michael in Penn Yan, the tabernacle isn’t even in the church, but in a chapel separated from the church by a door. To me, it makes a church space feel dead, as in Cardinal Ratzinger’s words: “A church without the Eucharistic Presence is somehow dead, even when it invites people to pray.”

    I applaud the efforts of faithful priests to bring Christ back into the Sanctuary. Some imply that He is a distraction during Mass, but Pope Benedict writes (as Cardinal Ratzinger) in The Spirit of the Liturgy: “The Eucharistic Presence in the tabernacle does not set another view of the Eucharist alongside or against the Eucharistic celebration, but simply signifies its complete fulfillment.”

    We also have to be careful as to what is genuine Vatican II teaching, and what has been hijacked by the implementation committees until it looks nothing like the approved documents. Remember, it has been reported that there were Protestants on the liturgy implementation committee! How absurd is that!

    In an address to a liturgical congress in Assisi in 1956 Pope Pius XII warned about lessening esteem for the Real Presence and action of Christ in the Tabernacle. He insisted that “To separate tabernacle from altar is to separate two things which by their origin and nature should remain united.” The booklet “The Catholic Sanctuary and the Second Vatican Council” by Michael Davies states “There is not one word requiring the demoting of the tabernacle in any document of the Second Vatican Council.” It is apparently in the post-conciliar documents that this (and destruction of altars and images and holy icons) reaches its zenith (or, more accurately, nadir.)

    The document issued in 1964 while the Council was still in session gives the First Instruction on the Liturgy, representing the thinking of the Council Fathers. Article 95 reads: “The Blessed Sacrament is to be reserved in a solid, burglar-proof tabernacle in the center of the high altar or of another altar if this is really outstanding and distinguished.” A year later, while the council was still in session, in Mysterium Fidei, Pope Paul VI made the statement that: “Liturgical laws prescribe that the Blessed Sacrament be kept in churches with the greatest honor and in the most [i.e. THE MOST]distinguished position.” What is more distinguished than the center of the high altar?

    The comment about “private prayer” was issued two years later by the committee drafters of the Liturgy Constitution, adding the words about private prayer, and demoting THE MOST PROMINENT PLACE to “a truly prominent place.” The words about private prayer were apparently the committee’s own innovation and led to the recommendation by the committee that the tabernacle be placed in a chapel distinct from the central church. More innovation, and not in the council documents as best I know, so your citation would be helpful. We are still, today, living with the hijacking of the original intent of not only the Council Fathers, but of their own documents. See also the Catechism, 1183, referencing that the tabernacle is to be situated in “the most worthy place with the greatest honor….”

  20. Dr. K says:

    “and I have no idea about the tabernacle positioning in his church”

    The tabernacle at St. Elizabeth is not located within, nor is it visible from, the church proper.

  21. annonymouse says:

    Diane –

    Here’s the cite:

    § 72 § The general law of the Church provides norms concerning the tabernacle and the place for the reservation of the Eucharist that express the importance Christians place on the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. The Code of Canon Law directs that the Eucharist be reserved “in a part of the church that is prominent, conspicuous, beautifully decorated and suitable for prayer.”94 It directs that regularly there be “only one tabernacle” in the church.95 It should be worthy of the Blessed Sacrament—beautifully designed and in harmony with the overall decor of the rest of the church. To provide for the security of the Blessed Sacrament the tabernacle should be “solid,” “immovable,” “opaque,” and “locked.”96 The tabernacle may be situated on a fixed pillar or stand, or it may be attached to or embedded in one of the walls. A special oil lamp or a lamp with a wax candle burns continuously near the tabernacle as an indication of Christ’s presence.97

    § 73 § The place of reservation should be a space that is dedicated to Christ present in the Eucharist and that is designed so that the attention of one praying there is drawn to the tabernacle that houses the presence of the Lord. Iconography can be chosen from the rich treasury of symbolism that is associated with the Eucharist.

    This is from:

    If that is Fr. Spilly’s Church, I believe he is ignoring the instructions on the right and proper placement of the tabernacle. But he is ignoring most every other instruction, so we oughtn’t be surprised. He knows best.

  22. annonymouse says:

    Missed this – the USCCB goes on –

    The Location of the Tabernacle:
    § 74 § There is a number of possible spaces suitable for eucharistic reservation. The revised General Instruction of the Roman Missal states that it is more appropriate that the tabernacle in which the “Blessed Sacrament is reserved not be on the altar on which Mass is celebrated.”98 The bishop is to determine where the tabernacle will be placed and to give further direction. The bishop may decide that the tabernacle be placed in the sanctuary apart from the altar of celebration or in a separate chapel suitable for adoration and for the private prayer of the faithful. In making his determination, the bishop will consider the importance of the assembly’s ability to focus on the eucharistic action, the piety of the people, and the custom of the area.99 The location also should allow for easy access by people in wheelchairs and by those who have other disabilities.

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