Dr. Richard Gaillardetz, professor of Catholic studies at the University of Toledo in Ohio, is scheduled to present a set of talks at the annual plenary assembly of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) in Cornwall from October 19-23.
Marking the Year for Priests, Dr. Gaillardetz will speak to the bishops about the priesthood and the relationship of bishops to priests.
Gaillardetz may strike some as a surprising choice for the job, however, since he is an open dissenter from Church teaching, as SoCon or Bust blogger John Pacheco details in a thorough and well-documented post. Most notably, and perhaps ironically, given the topic of his address, Gaillardetz is, in fact, an advocate for women’s ordination.
Gaillardetz, a member of the Obama campaign’s National Catholic Advisory Council, dissents from fundamental doctrines of the Church, presenting contrary views on issues such as papal infallibility and the nature of revelation. According to a book review in a 2004 issue of This Rock magazine, in one of his books, Gaillardetz “deconstructs Catholic teaching on divine revelation and Church authority and ends up with a theology of revelation that, despite his claims to the contrary, legitimates ‘cafeteria Catholicism.’”
Gaillardetz has gone so far as to say that an article of faith such as the resurrection of the body could become a ‘tentative’ teaching should it become controversial in the Church. “In the face of controversy, the determination of the authoritative status of any teaching not solemnly defined can only be pursued tentatively,” he has written.
In 1996, Gaillardetz published an article in the journal Louvain Studies in reaction to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s 1995 response to objections made by theologians against Pope John Paul II’s 1994 apostolic letter Ordinatio sacerdotalis, which reaffirmed the Church’s teaching on the male priesthood.
In the article, he questions the infallibility of John Paul II’s letter, relying on Canon 749.3, which states, “No doctrine is understood as defined infallibly unless this is manifestly evident.” Despite John Paul II declaring this doctrine “definitively,” Gaillardetz contends that the teaching does not satisfy the canon because it is not “clearly established.”
Further, he has questioned the definitive status of Humanae vitae and in his book A Daring Promise: A Spirituality of Marriage, he advises those couples who struggle with the Church’s teaching on contraception to follow their consciences. In one article he mentions a guide for confessors put out by the Vatican that contained “a disturbing reference … that referred to the teaching on artificial contraception as ‘definitive’.”
LSN contacted both the CCCB and Dr. Gaillardetz for comment, but did not hear back by press time.