Socon or Bust
Inviting Dissent: The Gaillardetz Visit
At their annual plenary assembly held in Cornwall, Ontario between October 19-23, 2009, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) – amid a firestorm of controversies including the Development & Peace Abortion Scandal and the charge against Bishop Raymond Lahey for possession of child pornography – invited dissenting theologian Richard Gaillardetz, a professor at the University of Toledo, to address them at the Plenary Assembly. Gaillardetz is noteworthy for his dissent on a number of core Catholic issues, most notably on contraception and the infallible status of Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, John Paul II’s apostolic letter which infallibly declared that women could not be ordained to the priesthood. Socon or Bust’s Investigative report prompted the CCCB to seek a response from Gaillardetz. Gaillardetz’s letter to the CCCB precipitated a number of exchanges and blog entries on the subject of his problematic positions, and whether it was appropriate for the CCCB to invite a noted dissenter to address them at their Plenary Assembly. (09.10)
Robert Fastiggi, Ph.D. Professor of Systematic Theology, Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Detroit, MI
An independent and grassroots forum for reflection, dialogue, and the exchange of ideas within the Catholic community of Minnesota and beyond
Catholics are called to resist this cultural tendency. I am not talking about some unthinking obedience to what "Father says," or the bishop says, or even what the pope says. Postmodern religion has been profoundly influenced by our culture of choice. Within that culture we are tempted to see our tradition as a religious grab bag in which we are free to pull out whatever we find appealing. It is this consumer oriented view of the Catholic tradition that many have in mind when they speak disparagingly of "cafeteria Catholicism." For many church leaders, the default reaction to this situation is to return to the juridical paradigm of command and obey. Their solution is to insist on an uncritical and unswerving obedience to all church teaching. And so they enforce fidelity oaths on ministers and church employees. They micro-manage curricular and textbook decisions in Catholic schools and parish religious education programs.
But there is another way beyond the inadequacies of "cafeteria Catholicism"; it is to encourage a substantive and deliberate "wrestling with the tradition." To be part of a religious tradition requires that I take that tradition seriously, even when it troubles me, and even when, at the end of the day, I find that I cannot give an unqualified adherence to it.
TIME TO JUNK THE NEW APOLOGETICS?
February 17, 2004
The new apologists, say Gaillardetz, are little better than the Fundamentalists they oppose because they use the Fundamentalist technique of prooftexting. What makes this worse is that the new apologists assume "an overly propositional view of revelation."
This, supposedly, is contrary to Vatican II, which "presented divine revelation as nothing less than the self-communication of God." This self-communication is not so much through propositions (defined beliefs) as through the person of Jesus Christ.
The new apologists, because of their propositional approach, end up giving false weight to magisterial pronouncements. They give too much authority to "non-dogmatic church teaching."
Another problem is that they "encourage a neo-triumphalism that can undermine ecumenical endeavors." This is seen especially in conversion stories, which leave people with the idea that everyone ought to become a Catholic.
Still another problem--and this is where I come back into the picture--is "the ahistorical presentation of the Catholic faith." My book "Catholicism and Fundamentalism" "is far too reluctant to acknowledge the historical difficulties with some traditional Catholic claims regarding the origin of the papacy (e.g., that Peter functioned as a residential 'bishop of Rome')."
There are other criticisms of the new apologists, but you get the drift.
I NEVER THOUGHT OF RICHARD McBRIEN AS AN APOLOGIST
We need a newer form of apologetics, Gaillardetz says. It will have five points.
First, it will be "passionate and positive." He has in mind the writing of such folks as Monika Hellwig, Thomas Rausch, and Richard McBrien. I can see the "passion" in their writings (Rausch was rather passionate when he gave a speech against me some years ago!), and certainly they are "positive" in what they write--but, so often, what they write is positively wrong.
Murray/Bacik Professor of Catholic Studies
University of Toledo