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A critical dossier on Dr. Richard Gaillardetz January 28, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in Dallas Diocese, General Catholic, North Deanery, scandals.

With the Sr. Joyce Rupp situation, I found that she wasn’t too well known and that her dissent from Church teaching was subtle, something spread throughout her work but with few obvious problem statements.  No one had previously researched her work in depth, and so it fell to me to do so.  Once looked at in depth, the problems with Rupp became obvious

That is not the case with Dr. Richard Gaillardetz.  A Canadian blog, socon or bust, has done a great deal of work analyzing  and critiquing Gaillardetz’ from and orthodox Catholic perspective.    I’ll add more on Gaillardetz as time permits, but for now, I encourage anyone concerned about his speaking at St. Mark to read the many posts detailing Gaillardetz’ dissent from Church doctrine on socon or bust.   The authors of the blog, including a priest, have done some truly good work in presenting a critical analysis of problems in Gaillardetz’ beliefs.


1. Richard Gaillardetz - January 28, 2010

It is curious, as a faithful Catholic, that you recommend that lay Catholics concerned about my orthodoxy to check out the views expressed in the blog of a non-expert with no ecclesiastical standing. Yet you fail to mention a prior obligation for a fiathful Catholic to ask about the judgment of the magisterium on my work. The fact is that what occasioned the blogger’s ire was that I was invited by the Canadian Bishops’ conference to address their plenary assembly on the topic of the ministerial priesthood. My two presentations were well received, indeed the newly elected president of the conference referred to them as the highlight of their annual meeting. In attendance was the distinguished theologian Cardinal Marc Ouellet who chatted with me afterward and offered not a single objection to my presentations. I find your failure to encourage Catholics to turn to the magisterium because, at least according to my catechism, it is the bishops and not lay bloggers who are given the charge with determining orthodoxy and dissent. When Pacheco offered his attac, the Canadian bishops asked for a response from me and pronounced themselves satisfied with my five-page response which they posted on their website. You also do not mention the fact that I have a canonical mandate that has not been rescinded by my bishop. Why is it that people like yourself who are so anxious to preserve the church from heresy tend to usurp for themselves the authority which the church grants only to the pope and bishops?

Richard Gaillardetz - January 28, 2010

Please forgive the typos and grammatical errors in my previous post. It is a bit of an embarrassment. chalk it up to pent up frustration at having to respond to such ill-informed attacks.

Steve Kellmeyer - January 28, 2010

Dr. Gaillardetz,

I know this must be embarrassing for you, but surely you know that a lowly bishop’s conference is not the Magisterium? Indeed, it doesn’t even rise to the level of a local synod or local council, much less an ecumenical council.

And surely you know that individual bishops, such as the good Cardinal Oullet, are only considered part of the Magisterium insofar as what they teach is in accord with the Magisterium. It is no secret that most of the condemned heretics of the Church have been bishops and priests, in their ordination and authority not at all unlike the Canadian bishops’ council.

Furthermore, you neglected to mention that a canonical mandate can be both given and withheld in error. It is not an infallible decree, it carries no objective weight (although it may have subjective weight), it’s really just a marketing gimmick – something like the nihil obstat and the imprimatur.

Finally, you fail to mention that the Magisterium has NOT ruled on your work yet. She is silent, and given that silence, Catholics are free to draw their own conclusions concerning the orthodoxy of your work, taking into account who has approbated it (is it a bishop not unlike Bishop Arius, for instance?) and who has not.

So, why do people like you always hide behind the skirts of an individual bishop, or a group of bishops, and actively pretend that this is the Magisterium when it manifestly is not?

Clearly, you have a Ph.D. in theology, but clearly, if you don’t even know this much Catholic theology, you are due for a refund, wouldn’t you say? If I were you, I would go back to the degree-granting institution and threaten to sue them unless and until you are actually taught the Catholic Faith.

It is only just.

But there is a further question. Why is it that you are willing to grant Catholics the right to dissent from the Magisterium on doctrinal matters they find “too hard” (e.g., married couples and contraception) while insisting on rigourous assent when it comes to your own teaching?

I’ve met the priests you’ve “trained.”
Matthew 23:15.
Go look it up.
It’s got some big words, so you may need someone to read it to you.

2. Steve B - January 28, 2010

Fr. Gaillardetz,

With this discussion just beginning, why are you so quick in resorting to your own judgmental invectives in response to this blogger’s inquiry?

I believe that this blogger was merely insinuating that more research has already been done wrt your teachings, in comparison to Sr. Rupp’s. I DON’T believe that the blogger was immediately pronouncing his personal negative judgment upon your works.

Would you be willing to make available to us your presentations to the Canadian Bishops’ conference, as well as your five-page response to Pacheco?

Full disclosure seems like the appropriate Catholic thing to do, for BOTH sides of this discussion….

Yes, you are correct that only the magisterium can make the official judgments of your public statements and works. I don’t think that any reasonable lay Catholic has any delusions of grandeur about any of our own judgments changing them.

However, it is not only reasonable, but also prudent, for EVERY faithful Catholic to put forth the extra effort to avoid “blind” acquiescence to those teachings which might at first appearance give us concern, especially from someone outside of our Diocese about whom our own Bishop has not commented.

I would be so bold as to say that faithful Catholics have a DUTY to educate themselves in such a fashion wrt your teachings.

Best wishes, and God bless.

3. tantamergo - January 28, 2010

Welcome, Dr. Gaillardetz. Wow, you found this blog rather quickly. It’s been barely 12 hours from my first post on your conference, and, yet, here you are. You don’t scour the internet looking for bloggers to pounce on, do you?

Irrespective, I think your tone speaks volumes. Yes, how dare I, a dirty, grubby, little lay Catholic dare to question your august majesty!? So, only those with MAs or above are qualified to discuss your work? I understand your desire to protect yourself, but scholars are also supposed to be prepared to defend themselves without an initial resort to ad hominems. The support you cite from the CCCB is wonderful, but in this context, it is meaningless. The context of your presentation was not necessarily for your work to be examined in a critical light. In addition, you did not delve into those subjects which a number of people have found objectionable. I doubt you had time to cover the entire breadth of your work, which is rather extensive.

In spite of your minimizing description, there are many others who have been quite critical of your work, it is not just one lone blogger as you suggest.

The parish that has invited you has a history of inviting speakers from a certain theological bent, which many call ‘dissenting.’ Richard Rohr, Thomas Keating, Michael Crosby, etc. There is, you might say, something of a trend. None of these speakers faces an ecclesial prohibition at present, either, but many in the Church find that condition quite distressing. The simple fact is, discipline on such issues has been very lax for quite some – what once would have brought a sharp reproval is now allowed to stand without comment.

I find it ironic that an author and speaker who advises people to follow their own conscience on some issues, reacts quite testily when others do the same. I also find the appeal to the magisterium quite charming, given much of your work.

One final note, in charity. Do you really think your posting here is helpful to your cause? Long term, big picture-like? I don’t think you want to be doing this.

4. Rick Gaillardetz - January 29, 2010

Let me make a few brief responses to the previous comments. First, according to Lumen gentium 25 each individual bishop participates in the ordinary magisterium of the church, although that exercise is not protected by the charism of infallibility. Second, I am not claiming any “august majesty” or some silly thing but merely suggesting that you leave the policing of the faith to those who have been charged with that office by episcopal ordination. I responded to the original post (which I discovered because I have an automatic google alert set) because the blogger has done more than engage in a polite and respectful inquiry; he has questioned my orthodoxy and is encouraging a campaign to have my invitation to speak rescinded. Surely it is not illegitimate for me to mount a defense of my reputation! Third, I appeal to the judgment of individual bishops because although they are not individually infallible, it still pertains to their office to assess the orthodoxy of theologians. Your own bishop has on two different occasions approved my speaking in your diocese and on a third occasion himself attended a day long workshop I gave to the clergy so it is hard to say that his approval was made in ignorance. I would like to think that would satisfy the concerns of faithful Catholics in your diocese. Fourth, it is simply a mistake to claim that the magisterium has not judged my work. While the conferral of a mandatum is not an infallible teaching exercise, it is an exercise of the conferring bishop’s ordinary magisterium and therefore does constitute a judgment of the magisterium on a theologian’s work. You are mistaken if you imagine that only the pope or the CDF at his behest exercises the apostolic teaching office of the church. Finally, in all charity may I suggest that before people stand in judgment of my orthodoxy they give me the benefit of the doubt and actually attend the parish mission. If they do they will hear me discuss such “dangerous” topics as finding God in daily life, recognizing the wisdom of the church’s teaching on sexuality, affirming the sanctity of the marital vocation and exploring the reasons why we as Catholics need the Eucharist and the Church in order to fulfill our baptismal calling!

Steve Kellmeyer - January 29, 2010

Oh, Ricky, but aren’t you a champion of the sensus fidelium? What happened? Cat got your tongue on that one? Sudden change of heart? Now we bow to the bishops and not to our own consciences?

Tell me, Ricky, how many kinds of hypocrite ARE you?

First, as for your quote of LG, it’s kind of weak, my man, given that you admit individual bishops, even whole bishops’ conferences, are not infallible in their judgements. You IMPLIED that you were covered by the cloak of the infallible Magisterium. In fact, you aren’t covered by the infallible Magisterium at all, since the bishops only participate in it insofar as they teach the infallible truths of the Church.

Second, it certainly isn’t wrong to mount a defense of your reputation, but it certainly IS wrong to engage in numerous logical fallacies while doing it

So, Ricky, which are we to believe about you, in Christian charity? That you were too stupid to realize your defense was a collection of logical fallacies and ignorance, or should we realize that you deliberately lied about the infallilble Magisterium in order to get us to shut up? I believe that’s called “the horns of the dilemma.” Which horn would you prefer to be gored with?

Third, as you well know, a bishop’s willingness to allow you to speak in his own diocese may be made for many reasons, not many of which necessarily have anything to do with your orthodoxy. He may have done so for political reasons involving his priests or certain parishioners, or he may be allowing you to provide the evidence necessary to hang your with your own rope, either in his own diocese or in that of a brother bishop, with whom he communicates regularly. Certainly those are possibilities too?

Fourth, I REALLY like your equivocation on the word “magisterium”! A masterpiece of misdirection! Sure, sure, you can talk about a “bishop’s magisterium”, but that ain’t the same animal as the Universal Magisterium, and we both know it. By using the Latin word for “teaching authority” in reference to the bishop’s teaching authority (which is not infallible), you hope to conflate the bishop’s teaching authority with the Ordinary Universal Magisterium.

Now, both the Ordinary and the Extraordinary Magisterium of the Universal Church are strictly and technically defined theological dogmas, both are infallible teaching authority of the Church.

But “the bishop’s ordinary magisterium”? Yeah, not so much. once we translate the Latin, all we’re left with is “the bishop has teaching authority insofar as he teaches what the Church teaches. Otherwise, his teaching can be safely ignored or adamantly denied, as the case warrants.” Yeah, my way translation is a little wordy, but I’m going for dynamic equivalence, which I’m sure you appreciate and admire.

So, of course every bishop who teaches what the Church has always taught “exercises the apostolic teaching office of the Church!” But you keep trying to conflate the bishop’s every pronouncement (especially the positive ones concerning your own august majesty) with the Universal Magisterium! Those aren’t the same, Rick!

Worse, you KNOW they aren’t the same, but you keep engaging in the discussion by equivocating on the terms and hoping we won’t notice!

And if you really DON’T know the two aren’t the same, then someone should yank your Ph.D. before you hurt yourself. Or worse, hurt someone else. Ain’t I right, Rick? C’mon, tell me I’m right. You can do it. Just three little words.

Now, Rick, moving on, let’s discuss the mandatum. The mandatum doesn’t mean much, and we both know it. Luther had the support of several Catholic bishops. So do you. So what? You have been weighed in the balance and found wanting, my friend.

Oh and I love, SIMPLY LOVE, your closing argument!

“Eve, before you pass judgement, listen to me! I’ve got lots of important things to say about really simple and safe things. Fruit! Trees! Horticulture! You are a gardener, are you not? Of COURSE you are! So, just give me the benefit of the doubt, would you? Charity demands it!”

Now, oh august Ph.D. who constantly invokes the weakest of arguments (authority) to protect himself, where HAS your interest in the sense of the faithful gone? Isn’t it a doctrine of the Church that the sense of the faithful can infallibly detect heresy? Isn’t it the case that we faithful have a baptismal duty to crush erroneous teaching? Aren’t you glad I returned to the opening argument? Gives a kind of liturgical close to the whole thing, don’t it?

Brother, for someone who doesn’t want us to blindly follow authority, you sure do lean on yours (not that you have any, but you like playing “let’s pretend,” so let’s).

If you tell me that I can safely question the Church’s teaching on contraception (and you DO, don’t you? Come on, deny it if you can! Cat got your tongue? Get some catnip!), then brother, shouldn’t you expect your books to be the kindling to the fire?

Indeed, how about we just burn the kindling and leave our Mother’s teachings safe in our vest pocket, where they belong? Sensus Fidelium is JUDGING you, my boy!
How do you like being on the receiving end?
Is it a little warm?

5. tantamergo - January 29, 2010

I haven’t got the time at the moment to reply in a great deal of detail, but I will say that your responses thus far have been heavy handed and resort contantly to the logical fallacies of appeal to authority and special pleading. Yes, even though you are attempting to defend your reputation, which I certainly understand, you do so in a manner that is both condescending and designed to shut down debate. That’s what an appeal to authority is intended to achieve – to end debate because some ostensible expert has judged your work to be acceptable. I think Steve K. has established that such appeals are meaningless; simply because a bishop, or group of bishops, has approved you to speak somewhere, or attended a conference where you spoke, does not mean that the totality of your work is in full communion with the established doctrine of the Church. It also does not mean that the bishop necessarily approves of all your doctrinal views – there can be many reasons why a speaker is allowed into a diocese that do not imply doctrinal agreement.

I may just be a blogger, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t the understanding of the issues at hand, or the ability to deconstruct fallacious arguments.

6. Tricky Ricky Getting A Rough Ride « SoCon Or Bust - January 29, 2010

[…] Read about it here and here. […]

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