Tricky Ricky Is Back Again!

Richard Gaillardetz, the Toledo theologian who presumes to correct the Congregation of the Doctrine for the Faith, Pope John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and 2000 years of Church Tradition, is coming to Canada…again!

Yes, that’s right folks.  After his whirlwind stop at the Plenary Assembly of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops this past October, the Archdiocese of Saskatoon has invited Tricky Ricky to give a talk at its National Marriage Enrichment Conference, scheduled for March 19-20, 2010.

The title of his talk is “Why We Always Marry ‘the Wrong Person’!  New Hope for Marriage in Tough Times”.  Personally, I think it should be titled, “Why the Bishops of Canada Always Choose Dissenters to Present at their Events”.  But, hey, that’s not exactly a winner-title to promote an officially sponsored Diocesan event, is it?

You can read about all of the Conference details here.

Folks will remember Socon or Bust’s exposé on Richard Gaillardetz and his dissenting views on such inconsequential topics like women priests and contraception.

Tricky Ricky is an Obama advisor who thinks that pro-same-sex “marriage” Obama is a “pro-life candidate”.   He was even rebuked by his own bishop for his opposition to repealing Roe v. Wade.

Bishop of Toledo Leonard P. Blair responded to Dr. Gaillardetz’s article in the same newspaper a week later, criticizing him for departing from the Catholic position articulated by the U.S. Bishops.  “Lest Mr. Gaillardetz’s teaching position and self-identification as a Catholic create any misunderstandings,” he writes, “it should be pointed out that his opinions regarding the issue of abortion, and Roe vs. Wade in particular, do not reflect the clear and consistent moral position of the United States Catholic bishops.” (Source)

And as far as marriage goes – the topic he is being asked to present on – there are some fundamental problems with his position on that too.  In fact, back in October before its Plenary Assembly in Cornwall, the CCCB asked Gaillardetz to respond to criticisms of his departure from the Church’s teaching on a variety of doctrinal and moral subjects, including contraception.  I reproduce some of his remarks below in blue. My response (part of a three part series that I wrote as a rebuttal) then follows.

I am accused of telling Catholics to follow their consciences on matters of artificial contraception. Ultimately, of course, all genuine moral action demands that we engage our consciences, but matters are not that simple. In fact, in my book on marriage I spent 3 ½ pages defending the church’s position on contraception, after which I also suggested that no one should question the sincerity of those who struggle with the Church’s teaching and I briefly summarized their views as well. However, I then concluded with the following statement:

For Roman Catholics, the teaching of Humanae vitae is authoritative and ought not be dismissed or ignored. Catholics must make a good faith effort to embrace the official teaching of the church, and they should insure that if they have difficulties with this teaching, these difficulties do not stem from either an inadequate understanding of the church’s teaching or an unwillingness to live according to the often demanding norms of Christian life. (90).

A website called foryourmarriage.com, an initiative of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, warned readers of his book, A Daring Promise: A Spirituality of Marriage.  Some time ago, the book was reviewed by the Bishops’ site and stated: 

Several points may disturb some readers.  Draws upon Pope John Paul II’s theology of the body yet offers gentle criticism. After admonishing couples to embrace church teaching on family planning through sound understanding and surrender to the rigorous demands of Christianity, he notes that a couple who still “cannot discover in (magisterial teaching) God’s will” can follow their consciences. While he says most “domestic churches” are constituted by marriage and include children, he includes under that term other households. (Source)

Why did the USSCB make this assessment, if Dr. Gaillardetz’s views are clear and consistent with the Church’s teaching? Why have other credible and competent sources made the same complaint about him, like Dr. Lawrence Welch, Associate Professor of Systematic Theology at Kenrick School of Theology?  Do we all misunderstand him?  Perhaps the problem is not with our understanding, but with Dr. Gaillardetz’s ability to communicate clearly and completely.  Dr. Fastiggi, for instance, makes these critiques of Dr. Gaillardetz’s book, By What Authority: A Primer on Scripture, the Magisterium and the Sense of the Faithful (The Liturgical Press, 2003):

p. 125. Gaillardetz seems to claim that a Catholic can, in good conscience, come to a decision to cohabitate before marriage or use contraception as long as her or she has given serious study and attention to the issue. In such a case, as he says, “I have done all the Church can ask of me and my inability to give an internal assent to this teaching does not in any way separate me from the Roman Catholic communion.” This strikes me as a very dangerous position to take.

pp. 130-131. The impression is given that a decision by a woman to have a “tubal ligation” is not a serious violation of a moral norm, especially when compared to more central dogmas like the bodily resurrection of Jesus. (Source)

Indeed, if you read Dr. Gaillardetz’s response above carefully, you will notice that although he encourages couples to “make a good faith effort to embrace the official teaching of the Church” on the issue of contraception, he does not state that the contraceptive act is intrinsically wrong or evil.  He does not teach that contraception is absolutely prohibited everywhere to everyone in all circumstances, as Humane Vitae does. 

Once again, although he might be technically right about “the couple not separating from the Communion”, he does not qualify that statement by also stating that the couple is engaging in a mortal sin and their salvation is at risk.  In fact, many of Dr. Gaillardetz’s positions follow this kind of road:  it’s not what he says (which may be technically true); it’s what he doesn’t say when he should that causes the problem.  This is particularly objectionable considering the controversial subjects he engages which require a full, transparent, and complete elucidation of the Church’s position.  His omissions are, quite frankly, scandalous and dangerous to unknowledgeable Catholics and non-Catholics alike. (Inviting Dissent: The Gaillardetz Visit , Part 3)

So, here we are…again…providing a venue and a platform for a dissenter to spread his views at an otherwise solid conference on marriage and family.

Where are our shepherds?  Is it that hard to preserve orthodoxy? Is it?

Bring the whip, O Lord, and cleanse this church of its infidelity.

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