Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Canadian Bishops ask dissenter to give them inspiration

Have you heard?  The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) has invited a well-known dissenting theologian to give two talks at their annual plenary meeting in Cornwall in October. His name is Richard Gaillardetz.

You will find the details of his dissent in this excellent post by John Pacheco and additional details in this article by LifeSiteNews.com.  Here's a brief summary of his "credentials". 

  • He says it's okay for couples to co-habitate before marriage and to use contraception if their  conscience doesn't complain (sounds Winnipeg-Statement-ish)
  • The ordination of women is okay.
  • He teaches a distorted version of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
  • Public revelation by God continues today.
  • His respect for life is very suspect since he's part of President Obama's "Catholic Advisory Board," which the Catholic Civil Rights League said does not have a single member that agrees with Church teaching on life issues.
  • He wonders whether the concept of divine revelation might be extended to the Islamic or Hindu scriptures (!!!!)
Moreover, his view of the Magisterium and the infallibility of Church teaching is extremely confused:

1.  It's possible for the Magisterium to err in matters of faith and morals. 
2.  He believes that an article of Faith can become tentative if it becomes “controversial."
3.  The degree of “reception” of Church teaching by the faithful is a “sign” of its infallibility.
4.  He says that the consensus of theologians is the determining factor for the discernment of the infallibility of the Magisterium.
5.  The obstinate denial of a definitive doctrine would not necessarily place one outside the Roman Catholic communion (very self-serving, don't you think?)

Does it disturb you that the CCCB would invite this man to give two lectures at their plenary?  What kind of message does it send to the faithful?  What does it tell you about the bishops?

If the CCCB invited him, they clearly don't object to his dissenting views.  Actually, it makes a lot of sense to me.  You see, the CCCB is mostly composed of dissenters.  We've observed this for many decades.  Tragic, but true.  

Of course, not all bishops are dissenters.  We have some very good bishops in this country.  However, they are few and far between.  Unfortunately, their minority status means that the overall direction of the CCCB is decided by the majority of dissenters. 

Gaillardetz brings a sense of legitimacy to the dissenting views of the CCCB majority, like a comforting reassurance that someone else thinks like them. 

The fact that virtually all Canadian bishops dissented from Humanae Vitae in writing is entirely consistent with Gaillardetz's point #1 above, namely that the Magisterium can make mistakes and therefore that the bishops don't have to follow the Pope.  This is especially true for controversial issues such as contraception, which was the main point of the dissent of the Canadian bishops more than 40 years ago.  Abortion is also quickly becoming optional teaching, as we've learned from the Development and Peace scandal and the Fr. Rosica rampage.  So Gaillardetz's view on #2 is also consistent with the CCCB's actions. 

Point #3 is also very useful for dissenters because they are well aware that most Catholics approve of contraception. Therefore, they like Gaillardetz's theory that a rejection of Church teaching by the faithful is a sign that that teaching was not infallible. It's like giving the faithful a special veto power over the Magisterium.

Point #4 gives the bishops their own special veto power over the Magisterium, since many bishops are theologians too.  Isn't that handy?

Finally, #5 makes dissenters feel comforted that they are not excluded from communion with the Roman Catholic Church for the extreme positions they've taken in points #1 to #4.

So, you see, it all makes sense. In these difficult times, where dissenting bishops are being questioned by Catholics who want to remain faithful to Rome, they have called upon a fellow dissenter for some reassurance.

Sadly, we rarely hear the good bishops speaking up these days.  They must feel very frustrated.  We must pray for their perseverance.  I hope they will gain the courage and strength to break their silence. 

That's the tragic state of our Church today. Please pray for our bishops.