Why Have the Canadian Bishops Invited a Dissenter to Speak At Their Plenary Assembly?

According to a recent news report by Deborah Gyapong of Canadian Catholic News, there’s some restructuring going on over at the CCCB. You can read about it over at Salt+Light’s blog. I really do try not to be cynical. I just hope and pray that they will be as enthusiastic about cleaning up the rot on the inside as they are on the outside. You know what I mean of course.  All of the restructuring in the world is not going to change their fundamental problem. 1000 pounds of communication strategies and re-organizations does not equal one ounce of repentance, and yet repentance is what the Canadian bishops really need. It’s what we all need. We don’t need more communication directors. We need more honest communications.
Why am I so “uncharitable” and cynical about this reported re-organization?

Because, dear reader, one need only read about their guest speaker to rev-up the cynical barometer:

The CCCB plenary will open with a day and a half public session that will feature two talks by Catholic Studies professor Richard Gaillardetz of the University of Toledo, Ohio, to mark the Year for Priests. The award-winning author and writer who served on the board of the Catholic Theological Society of America from 2006-2008 will talk on the impact of the Second Vatican Council on the priesthood and on the relationship of bishops to priests.

Who is Richard Gaillardetz?

1) He’s a liberal dissenter.

2) He blasted and disparaged the Holy Father over his lifting of the excommunication of the SSPX bishops:

“As a Catholic, there is nothing that prevents me from saying this was an abysmal decision,” said Richard Gaillardetz, a professor of Catholic studies at the University of Toledo in Ohio. “John Paul II was the master of the symbolic gesture in many ways. He had a keen sense of the symbolic gesture that would send a larger message. Benedict doesn’t have that or think that way. In Benedict’s own mind, he is addressing certain issues that have a theological and doctrinal logic to them. And he doesn’t think about or consider … the larger consequences of his actions.” (Source)

3) He is a member of Barack Obama’s notorious “Catholic Advisory Council .  According to Catholic Civil Rights League President, Bill Donahue, most of the public officials on the council had a 100 percent rating from the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) of the United States.

4) He apparently believes that an article of Faith can become tentative if it becomes “controversial”:

THE STATUS OF AN ARTICLE OF FAITH CANNOT BECOME TENTATIVE

This touches, too, on a question I posed with regard to Gaillardetz’swork and his response to me. I disagreed with Gaillardetz’s argument “that in the face of controversy, the determination of the authoritative status of any teaching not solemnly defined can only be pursued tentatively.” (16) I objected that what if in some time in the future the resurrection of the body became controversial would we really be justified in saying that its definitive and infallible status would be only tentative because it had become controversial? Gaillardetz answers provocatively “Yes” arguing that there would need to be a demonstration of the diachronic and synchronic unity of the episcopate; or there would need to be a public consultation of bishops; or even an exercise of the extraordinary magisterium, conciliar or papal, in a solemn definition. (Source)

5) He questions the definitive position of the Catholic Church in banning women priests:

“This year’s speakers include Richard Gaillardetz and Scott Appleby, who both have expressed doubts about the binding authority Pope of John Paul II’s 1995 declaration, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, that said the Church hasn’t the authority to ordain women.

The claim that the document was infallible because it expresses the universal and ordinary magisterium is problematic, said Gaillardetz in a 1996 Louvain Studies article, since, in his view, the pope was not teaching in union with the bishops.

In an interview with in the July 2002 U.S. Catholic, Appleby opined “that we are on the brink of sacrificing the Eucharist to the insistence on an all-male, celibate clergy. I wish we had a sufficient number of priests, but we clearly do not.”” (Source)

6) In his book, By What Authority? A Primer on Scripture, the Magisterium, and the Sense of the Faithful, he proposes beliefs in complete opposition to the Catholic Faith including…

  • that God continues to reveal himself to us today in the same way he did in the person of Jesus Christ, thereby suggesting the false premise that public revelation continues to this day;
  • misunderstands the concept of biblical inspiration, construing Dei Verbum 11 to allow for the possibility of historical errors by the sacred authors;
  • claims that it is possible for the Church’s magisteriumto err, even in matters of faith and morals, and that the Church has acknowledged as much;
  • wonders whether the concept of divine revelation might be extended to the Qur’an or the Hindu Upanishads.

Read the rest of the book review here by Catholic Answers Staff. (Catholic Answers has been the premier Catholic Apologetics organization in North America for 30 years now.)

7) He accepts contraception by recommending couples “follow their consciences”. (So, in other words, I guess what I’m saying is that he’s in line with the Canadian Bishops’ infamous Winnipeg Statement)

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 review by the Bishop’s 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)

8 ) He departs in many, many other areas of Catholic teaching. A succinct and excellent summary of Gaillardetz’s departures from Catholic teaching was written by Dr. Robert Fastiggi.

Click here to read it.

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“In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.” (2 Tim 4:1-5)

8 thoughts on “Why Have the Canadian Bishops Invited a Dissenter to Speak At Their Plenary Assembly?

  1. With all their resources, could the CCCB not selected a better speaker? With the current speaker’s background, won’t a lot of faithful Catholics question why he was chosen? I wonder what he will say.

  2. Wow The CCCB’s choice of a speaker at their plenary assembly hardly seems edfying! Rather like the story of the emperor who wore no clothes. How can the bishops instill courage into their flock after such a dissedent speaks to them and they do not even recognize him as a wolf in sheep’s clothing. There must be some of them who especially need our prayers.
    And prayer really does help. I have seen an impossible situation in my own family resolve in the most untimely fashion . I do credit the intercession of St Joseph

  3. Asinine. Stupendously egregious. About the worst pick for a speaker a conference dedicated to examing the priesthood could choose. It would be comical if it were not so serious.

    THis is moronic and inexcusable in this the age of Google. If they did not research his background, heads need to roll. If they did research his background and still found him a suitable teacher then its a sign the apocalypse is upon us.

  4. He is a professor who seems very much influenced by the spirit of this age, which is largely agnostic and relativistic. And yet, this is who the Canadian bishops turn to for insight on the priesthood. Amazing. You have to wonder if this is a case of the blind leading the blind.

  5. Actually on the resurrection of Christ bodily, it is not in the same species of belief as the position on birth control because the bodily resurrection is clear as a bell in Scripture which is inerrant so that to have controversy on the matter at all, would have happened already under Paul VI and John Paul II both of whom allowed Fr. Raymond Brown on the Pontifical Biblical Commission even though he held that Mary never really said the Magnificat (page 349 of Birth of the Messiah). Gaillardetz has responded to points in this thread in a letter here: http://www.cccb.ca/site/images/stories/pdf/response_richard_gaillardetz.pdf

  6. I found that very tragic too, that there was no priest or bishop who could speak on the year of priests, but a layman, regardless his education, and his good standing with the church that is in question by many. This is beyond repair, it just has to be annulled, but what’s left to annul?

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