The Rev. William R. Callahan, a Roman Catholic priest and self-described “impossible dreamer” whose vociferous and organized opposition to Vatican policies prompted Jesuit officials to expel him from their order, died on Monday in Washington. He was 78. He attended the Jesuit-run Boston College High School and after graduating joined the New England Province of the Society of Jesuits in 1948.
Father Callahan remained a priest after his expulsion from the Jesuit order, the Society of Jesus, in 1991, but the church barred him from acting as one. Known widely as Bill, he still sometimes used the honorifics “Reverend” and “Father.”
He aggravated church officials during the American tour of Pope John Paul II in 1979 by imploring priests to refuse to help the pope in celebrating Mass.
He started the Quixote Center in 1976 with Dolly Pomerleau, who became a work partner of his for many years. They married days before he died.
The Quixote Center achieved particular prominence in its support of the leftist government of Nicaragua in the 1980s, a stance directly at odds with that of the Reagan administration. It raised more than $100 million in humanitarian aid for the (Totalitarian Sandanista Party) Nicaraguan government. In 1979,
Jesuit leaders rebuked Father Callahan for his defiance of dogma, and by 1989 his Nicaraguan activities and liberal initiatives in the church, including a ministry for g@y Catholics, had set off calls for his expulsion from the Jesuit order.