Canadian Bishops’ Plenary to be Addressed on the Priesthood by Women Priests Advocate

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.

Subscribe to CE
(It's free)

Go to Catholic Exchange homepage

  • Joe DeVet

    A few years ago Gaillardetz (incidentally, pronounced “guh-LAR-dee”) left a teaching post at our local seminary and took the Toledo job. In so doing, he did what he had failed for years to do–he improved our seminary! (A few more strategic departures would make it even better.)

    My observation of Gaillardetz’s work is similar to that in the article. He twists history, Catholic teaching, and philosophical and theological principles ever so slightly out of shape, then runs with the misstated principle to its logical conclusion, a dissent from Catholic teaching. I’m in total agreement that he does not need to be a speaker under Catholic auspices anywhere.

    However, I take issue with this piece’s title. It implies that the Canadian bishops have agreed to hear a plea for women’s ordination. The subject matter of the talk, given in the text of the article, would indicate that this is not what he will be talking about. In my opinion, it would have been better to title the article, “Dissenting Catholic Theologian to Address Canadian Bishops.”

  • DWC

    Why do our bishops continue to legitimize the voices of such people — and make it more difficult for them to minister to their flock? Good gosh.

  • polyanna

    Maybe Gaillardetz will do such a good job speaking,Canada will want to keep him. Good to know, Joe, that at least your faith managed to survive in spite of him. Hopefully he will soon dig himself a hole big enough bury himself along with his heresies.

  • The Canadian bishops also came out a few years ago in favor of artificial birth control.