In recent years, Pope Benedict XVI has emphasized the need to interpret the documents of the Second Vatican Council in light of the Church’s Tradition. This emphasis has been necessary because of the liberal and dissenting forces in the Church which have proposed that Vatican II denoted a definitive break from the past with a new hermeneutic on how to understand the Catholic Faith. Benedict rejects this problematic view because, for one thing, it completely undermines what the Catholic Church believes about herself as being an unbroken witness to Christ’s revelation. These competing “hermeneutics” have been called the hermeneutic of continuity and the hermeneutic of rupture.
Those who advocate for a hermeneutics of rupture typically don’t use that phrase, of course. It’s not a politically correct handle, and it doesn’t sell. For them, it’s all about the milk toast jingles that we typically hear from so-called progressives – “renewal” and “progress” and other smooth yogurt. But they do – once you get them talking - describe a rupture and a definitive change in direction for the Church.
The last vestiges of this hermeneutic are being played out at Catholic Universities and Seminaries in the Church, including right here in Ottawa at St. Paul’s University. An upcoming conference entitled “Vatican II for the Next Generation” is scheduled to take place in September with a number of notable and familiar faces which indicate what kind of conference this will be. Let’s check out this Star-laden conference….
1) Gregory Baum: Gregory Baum, a former priest who married a divorced former nun (and then proceeded to divorce her), is Canada’s most notorious, defrocked, and dissenting ex-priest. He was one of the leading dissenters of Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI’s encyclical condemning contraceptive acts, and became a catalyst in the adoption of the disastrous Winnipeg Statement. Gregory Baum, remember, is Fr. Rosica’s pal from Fr. Rosica’s days at the Newman Centre. Baum was (and is) arguably Canada’s staunchest and most influential opponent of Humane Vitae, and who even openly advocated for same-sex “marriage“. Baum’s 1974 article on homosexuality in the U.S. Catholic weekly Commonweal (February 15) was used as a handout by homosexual activists throughout North America for almost two decades. In it he argued, first, the theme developed earlier by others that the biblical references condemning sodomy were really references to lack of hospitality; and, secondly, that Catholic teaching would change and endorse homosexuality within a few years. Father Baum was excommunicated automatically under the existing (1917) Code of Canon Law for sinning grievously by abandoning his vocation and “attempting” to get married while still a functioning priest. (Source).
2) Bishop Remi De Roo: Bishop De Roo is known as “Race-Horse Remi” for his squandering of tens of millions of dollars of the Archdiocese of Victoria in a risky Arabian horse and land development deal in the U.S.
According to LifeSite News, “Bishop De Roo is himself also widely recognized as advocating positions contrary to Catholic teaching. He is a trained ‘Enneagram’ teacher, which the Pontifical Councils for Culture and Interreligious Dialogue, in a joint document, named as an example of the modern gnostic New Age movement. “When used as a means of spiritual growth [it] introduces an ambiguity in the doctrine and the life of the Christian faith,” they wrote. In 1999, reports Catholic World News, he was ordered by the Vatican to cancel a speaking engagement at a conference for the International Federation of Married Catholic Priests. Further, he has been a featured guest at conferences run by the dissident group Call to Action, which seeks to alter Church teaching on a range of issues, such as the male priesthood, priestly celibacy, contraception, and homosexuality. As Msgr. Vincent Foy has detailed, Bishop De Roo also played a strong role in the Canadian Bishops’ adoption of the Winnipeg Statement in 1968, in which they opposed Pope Paul VI’s strict condemnation of artificial contraception.” (Source)
Baum and De Roo were the invited speakers to a St. Paul University-sponsored address on Vatican II in 2009, in which they were critical of the way “Conservative” elements in the Church were moving the Church…
“…the continued implementation of the Council is being undermined by Conservative Catholics, aided by the Vatican, [Baum] said. “A conservative movement, sponsored by the Vatican itself, remains attached to the old paradigm, overlooks the bold texts of the conciliar documents and tries to restore the Catholicism of yesterday,” he claimed. “Vatican II may suffer neglect for a certain time, but as an ecumenical council it cannot be invalidated.” He says that as pope, Benedict XVI has been “inconsistent,” emphasizing ‘proclamation’ at certain points and ‘dialogue’ at others. While the late Pope John Paul II focused on dialogue in dealing with other religions, said Baum, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger emphasized “proclamation” against relativism. “Will the Pope change his mind again?” he asked. “On this issue the magisterium is presently inconsistent.” (Source)
3) Richard Gaillardetz: Socon or Bust readers will fondly remember Dick Gaillardetz. He’s the theologian that Socon or Bust exposed just before he showed up to give the keynote address to the CCCB Plenary Assembly a few of years ago. He’s noteworthy for his dissent on contraception and women priests, besides a whole host of other theological irregularities. Did we mention he was on Obama’s National “Catholic” Advisory Council? Or that he was criticized by his bishop for his unorthodox legal position on abortion?
You can read all the dirty laundry about this theologian here. The fact that he is a shameless disciple of that pro-abort, anti-Catholic thug, Obama, should, in and of itself, disqualify him from being a competent Catholic theologian on just about anything. Then again, being an accredited theologian in the Catholic Church today is worth as much as a promise from Obama to protect religious freedom. Why doesn’t Gaillardetz talk about his proud involvement with Obama while he’s here in Ottawa? Not a suitable topic for the Conference? Perhaps the Conference’s participants would become uncomfortable and feel awkward. You know, now that Obama is looking to…uh…destroy the Church’s freedom and therefore the Church’s ability to preach the Gospel. Oh, and wasn’t the topic of Religious Liberty a pretty big topic during Vatican II? Isn’t the attack on religious freedom THE issue today coming out of Vatican II? I’m pretty sure that it is, but strangely that topic is absent in Dick’s (and everyone else’s) presentation. I wonder why? Too “political”, I guess.
4) Catherine Clifford: Ms. Clifford is an associate professor and vice-dean at St. Paul’s University. Socon or Bust has not researched Ms. Clifford’s positions in any great length, but it is likely that she shares much of what Gaillardetz, Baum, and +De Roo believe. She helped organize the above conference featuring +De Roo and Baum. We do know that Ms. Clifford has collaborated with Richard Gaillardetz on at least one project and probably many more.
They have appeared to express the idea that Bishops should be beholden to theologians before offering their judgements. Check out this article which offers a critique of the Clifford/Gaillardetz view of their own self-importance as theologians:
“At the 2010 meeting of the Catholic Theological Society of America, two lay theologians—Catherine Clifford and Richard Gaillardetz—warned that in the past, tradition “has been cooped to convey values of ideology and dominant self-interest.” But liberal Catholicism is now itself an ideology, and the rationalization of self-interest is nowhere more obvious than among organized professionals. Clifford and Gaillardetz complained that theologians labor under “episcopal suspicion” and asserted that theologians “exhibit loyalty to the magisterium only insofar as the magisterium exhibits its own proper service to God’s word,” a formula that allows theologians the final judgment as to what constitutes God’s word. Part of the liberal conceit is the claim that Vatican officials are ignorant and do not understand the theologies they judge, a claim that by implication applied even to Pope Benedict when he was head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, even though he is one of the great theologians of the age. Some theologians now claim to be a “second magisterium” whose teaching authority is equal to, even superior to, that of the hierarchy, a claim that ignores the fact that throughout the history of the Church it has always been the hierarchy—usually gathered in councils—who have rendered final judgment about doctrine. Clifford and Gaillardetz defined the role of the theologian as that of preserving “the priority of the lived faith of the Church over its doctrinal formulations,” implying that the two are incompatible. But, having excluded both hierarchical authority and “popular opinion,” the two theologians seemed by default to leave the professionals as the people uniquely qualified to determine what is or is not “lived faith.” (Source)
And from an article in the National Catholic Reporter, the same inferiority complex raises its head again, along with the flattening of Episcopal importance and the self-elevation of the rogue theologian:
“Sadly, too many theologians report that they are seldom consulted by their local bishops on theological questions,” they authors said. …Doctrinal teaching, they state, “is but a partial expression of the faith of the church and is completed by the living faith of the whole community. The multiple witness of the church on earth, expressed diversely in the authoritative teaching of the magisterium, in the reflections of theologians, and in the teaching and witness of all the baptized coalesce into a ‘symphony.’ The dialectical interplay of each section of the orchestra contributes to the harmonious proclamation of the divine Word… (Source)
Gaillardetz and Clifford are not so crude as to openly overturn the formal role of the bishop. Formally, for them, the structure is what it has always been. But what they do propose is a saturation of how the bishop actually operates – making him a kind of “consensus seeker” among the flock, with the theologian-king taking center stage (of course) in influencing the bishop on what he should be doing or teaching. What they’re proposing is really not too far off from Conciliarism - except that, instead of bringing the Pope down to be equal to the bishops, they seek to subtly disperse the ecclesial and exclusive power properly belonging to the Bishops and give it to the theologians. Because they’re so educated, smart, and hip to the latest theological trends and movements among the laity, our theologian-kings obviously are the ones that the bishops should be consulting on anything of importance in the Catholic Church. What Gaillardetz and Clifford really do is to make a bishop the ecclesiastical rubber stamp for the theologian-technocrat. In fact, Dick Gaillardetz is the vice president of the Catholic Theological Society of America and will be president next year. Such an emphasis on theologians can only redound to the importance of the king (or president as the case may be) of theologians, too!
There’s no group so dangerous (or indeed, pathetic) as a group who is bothered by the fact that no one else really cares what they think.
Earlier this year, Gaillardetz contributed a column to America magazine in which he tried to, once again, ensure that everyone knew how important theologian-kings really are in the Church …
A second dynamic evident at the council was the bishops’ commitment to humble learning. In the century before the council it had become common to divide the church into two parts: a teaching church (ecclesia docens) made up of the clergy and a learning church (ecclesia discens) consisting of the laity. This way of imagining the church dangerously overlooked the fact that bishops do not have a monopoly on divine truth. They do not receive supernaturally infused knowledge at their episcopal ordination. It is not the case that a priest with a shaky understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity on the day before his episcopal ordination would suddenly be able to give learned lectures on the topic on the day after ordination! As St. Cyprian of Carthage sagely pointed out in the third century, bishops must themselves be learners before they can be teachers (Epistle 74, 10). (Source)
No Catholic believes that bishops have a “monopoly on the Truth”. The Church does not even teach that of itself. But such a statement really does reveal quite a bit about its évocateur. So, Dick, I guess you’re going to tell us what is the critical, absolutely necessary element that we’re missing, huh? Let me see…could it be the theologian-king’s role to fill in the missing blank on Divine Truth?
Dr. Robert Fastiggi’s devastating critique of Gaillardetz’s writings clearly shows many of Gaillardetz’s departures from Catholic thought, not the least of which is the “theologian-king” ideas floating around in Dick’s head:
From his book, Witnesses to the Faith: Community, Infallibility, and the Ordinary Magisterium of Bishops (Paulist Press, 1992, p. 28). Pope Pius IX’s 1863 letter, Tuas Libenter to the archbishop of Munich-Freising is cited to support the thesis that “the universal and constant consent of Catholic theologians” is needed to establish a teaching of “the ordinary teaching power of the whole Church spread throughout the whole world as divinely revealed” (Denz-Hün. *2879). Gaillardetz writes: “In fact, based on the wording of the papal brief, it would seem legitimate to conclude that where there is no universal and constant consensus of Catholic theologians the infallibility of a teaching of the ordinary Magisterium might itself be called into question.” Thus, Gaillardetz attempts to have the consensus of the theologians as the determining factor for the discernment of the infallibility of the universal ordinary Magisterium. In the actual text, however, Pius IX’s teaches that an act of divine faith is not limited to what has been defined by express decrees of ecumenical councils or Popes but also “to those matters which are handed on as divinely revealed by the ordinary Magisterium of the Church dispersed throughout the whole world and, therefore, are held, by the universal and constant consensus of Catholic theologians, as belonging to the faith” (ideoque universali et constanti consensu a catholicis theologis ad fidem pertinire retinentur). The Latin, ideoque, in this context means “and therefore” or “and for that reason” or “and on that account.” It indicates that the universal and constant consensus of Catholic theologians follows as a result of the universal and ordinary teaching of the Magisterium.
Let’s cut to the chase, everyone. The problem here is not bishops consulting with theologians. The Church has done that since (virtually) its inception. The theologian-kings are trying to manufacture a problem which does not exist. In fact, the exact opposite problem has happened since the Second Vatican Council. The episcopacy had put too much emphasis on the opinions of their experts in the last 40+ years. We have seen case after case of bishops deferring (and abdicating) their responsibilities to the Professionals in the Church. The recent move of the bishops to reassert their authority is a correction of what Gaillardetz and gang are now losing: their overblown and inflated influence and the imbalance they have created since Vatican II. The attack on the Office of Bishop has been playing out on two fronts during this period in Church History, which I term “Death by Delegation”: the rise of the Episcopal conference as a defacto corporate replacement for the local bishop and the rise of the theologian-king and his role as indispensable pereti both to the local bishop and to the Committees of these Conferences (i.e. education, social justice, eco-justice).
In fact, the “Professional” problem in the church leads us right into our next speaker….
5) Sister Joan Cronin: Catholic parents in Ontario will be familiar with Sister Joan. Sr. Joan Cronin is the head of the Ontario bishops’ Institute for Catholic Education (ICE), and the bishops’ lead on implementing the “[gay] equity strategy” in Catholic schools.
1. According to an eye-witness account, Sister Joan Cronin, the Executive Director of ICE, was co-presenter at a January 27, 2011 government training workshop on religious accommodation for Catholic educators. During the workshop, a grade 6 reader called “The Wonderful World of Dads”, which gave a positive portrayal of homosexual family structures, was used. The eye-witness said that Sister Cronin was silent and never corrected her co-presenter for using a book which portrayed homosexual family structures in a positive light. She did not even speak up to suggest that such a book might possibly be inappropriate for a Catholic classroom.
2. According to an eye-witness account, Sister Joan Cronin was present on January 24, 2011 at a special meeting of the Toronto Catholic School Board to promote the board’s draft Equity policy. An extremely problematic prayer which attacks section 2357 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church was read aloud by the group as the opening prayer. It specifically attacked the Church’s teaching that homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered”. The eye-witness said that Sister Cronin never once spoke up against the use of the prayer, nor commented about its obvious inappropriateness. (Source)
Entitled ‘Prayer in Honor of Those Whom Jesus Loved’, the prayer was authored by Sr. Joan Chittister, who is renowned for promoting positions contrary to Catholic teaching on such issues as abortion, homosexuality, and women’s “ordination.” The prayer was written as a response to a 1999 notification from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which denounced the writings of the founders of the illicit pro-homosexual New Ways Ministry. The prayer, read at the January 24th meeting, asked Christ to:
- “give us all the grace to own our sexual identity, whatever its orientation, as another manifestation of your goodness.”
- “give us the vision to recognize and reject the homophobia around us and in our own hearts, as well,”
- “Help us to love those who make exiles of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters,”
- “May we and the church of Jesus open our hearts and homes and sanctuaries to the gay and lesbian community, to the glory of God they bring in new voice, with different face.” (Source)
6) Gilles Routhier: A Quebec Catholic priest and theologian at the University of Laval, Routhier is a so-called specialist in the reception of Vatican II. He is best known, however, for his role in the remarkable betrayal of the fundamental right of Catholic parents to determine their children’s religious formation. In 2011, the Supreme Court of Canada rejected a Quebec family’s request to exempt their child from the province’s controversial program in ethics and religious culture, basing its decision largely on the testimony of Routhier, even though he was almost certainly aware of the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education’s position on the matter:
“If religious education is limited to a presentation of the different religions, in a comparative and ‘neutral’ way, it creates confusion or generates religious relativism or indifferentism,” wrote the Congregation in the letter, which focused specifically on government efforts to implement courses in “religious ethics and culture….The right of parents are violated, if their children are forced to attend lessons or instructions which are not in agreement with their religious beliefs,” they wrote.” (Source)
Cardinal Marc Ouellet, then-Archbishop of Quebec and current prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops, pulled few punches, referring to the Quebec program as “the dictatorship of relativism applied beginning in elementary school.”
It’s more than obvious that this Conference is not being called to help build up the Church under obedience to Her teaching Magisterium. It’s there to set rebellious agendas and move them forward in order to fill some kind of need for self-fulfillment and self-importance. That’s even the title of Richard Gaillardetz’s talk: Setting the Agenda for the Church of the Twenty-first Century.
I guess it’s never occurred to Gaillardetz and the Gang that they’re yesterday’s men. They’ve got no serious following in the Church of the New Evangelization. Beyond the smoking-sixties crowd who hasn’t figured out that the hermeneutic of rupture is a dead letter which is not going to rise again, their only true outlet is to boldly go where no one has gone before and preach to the converted and fellow professionals – both constituencies, by the way, that have one foot in the grave and the other in quick sand. The regular Joe Pew-sitter and the young people in the Church, on the other hand, are not interested in their Agenda at all, but they are indeed attuned to the Holy Spirit’s Agenda which is going in the exact opposite direction from the “road to no where” that the theologian-kings are busily planning for us and which no one will ever travel.
This conference is not about building up the Church. It’s about building up the idea of theologians as the real influence behind the bishops, thereby seeking to create a pseudo-teaching authority for themselves.
Boy, are they going to be in for a rude awakening in the coming months and years. The attacks on religious liberty, and the Catholic Faith in particular, are going to force the bishops to flex their muscles, sober up, and take back control of their Dioceses. If Dick and Catherine are sad that too many theologians are seldom being consulted by the bishops now, what will they feel like when they’re totally ignored?
My dear friends,
If you’re sick and tired of the Progressives claiming the real estate in the Catholic Church, don’t sit there. Do something about this Den of Dissent and raise your voice in objection.
Cardinal Peter Turkson is also one of the invited speakers. Contact the Nunciature here in Ottawa (e-mail is fine but a written letter is better). Ask his Excellency, the Most Rev. Pedro López Quintana, the Nuncio to Canada, to kindly consider informing Cardinal Turkson that, as a representative of the Pope, his presence at this Conference would be considered a serious scandal because of the problematic backgrounds and positions of many of its speakers.
The Catholic Laity have been subject to enough abuse. And Rome needs to hear about it in clear and unambigous terms.
His Excellency is Spanish, so tell him in Spanish: ¡Ya basta!