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Oh man………not again January 28, 2010

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

I told you, my dear, sweet faithful readers, both of you, that I had some indications that policies to review the credentials of speakers invited into diocesan parishes were under review.  Well, either that review did not amount to much, or what I’ve been told wasn’t very accurate, because we have another dissenting speaker coming to a North Deanery parish – St. Mark in Plano.

Dr. Richard Gaillardetz will speak soon at St. Mark in Plano. The first session is after Mass, and all sessions are in the sanctuary.  You know, that place where Christ is sacrificed at every Mass?  Yeah, that place.

It seems that Dr. Gaillardetz has some problems with Church doctrine.  For one, he states that couples should ‘follow their own conscience’ regarding infallibe Church dogma on the use of contraception.  He actually feels you should try, like really, really hard to follow that doctrine, but if it’s just tooo danged hard, you can follow your own conscience.  Apparently, around 95% of Catholic married couples find it too danged hard…….I’m sure after a terrible amount of internal conflict and turmoil.  I’m sure they would never use justifications from such theologians as Dr. Gaillardetz to help rationalize their opposition to God’s Perfect Will!  And neither would any pastors at certain parishes! 

Dr. Gaillardetz has some pretty……..interesting…………ideas regarding infallible dogmas and how they are arrived at.  The Church has stated, infallibly!, that it is properly constituted Church councils, the Pope, and the long-held views of the Magisterium that constitute infallible dogma.  Not so with Dr. Gaillardetz!  Oh no, for him, it’s the theologians who constitute the Magisterium, and who decide what doctrine is infallible.  Isn’t that convenient?!?  How nice for him!  He has written books on the subject, and he sides with such well known dissenters as Dr. Hans Kung for support in claiming that no doctrine arrived at by humans can be infallible. Guess we better scrap that Credo! 

Once again, I guess I, and those who think I might have a point regarding all these dissenting speakers coming to the diocese, have to go back to the pastors and the diocese and make our concerns known. But, since I know some of the pastors involved read this blog, let me ask a semi-rhetorical question, again.  Is this really, REALLY, the best we can do?  While  much foot dragging goes on to bring in an orthodox speaker, it seems the dissenters just breeze right in without a problem.  This makes me wonder about alot of things, like inherent biases and things like that. 

You know what to do.  The only way to affect change is to let the staff at the parish and diocese know that this kind of speaker isn’t acceptable. 

Contact info below:

Mary Edlund   Chancellor, Dallas Diocese   chancellor@cathdal.org 214-379-2819
Elsa Espinoza, Secretary, Bishop Kevin Farrell: eespinoz@cathdal.org 214-379-2816

Judy Clark Family and Adult Ministry at St. Mark  jpclark@stmarkplano.org 

Father Cliff Smith Pastor, St. Mark
(972) 423-5600


1. Rev. Clifford G. Smith - January 28, 2010

Apparently you are unaware that Rick was a professor at University of St. Thomas Graduate School of Theology at St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston from 1991 until he was offered an even more prestigious position at Marquete. He taught roughly a third of the priests active in this Diocese. He was an excellent teacher then and continues to be today.

2. Kevin in Texas - January 28, 2010

Fr. Smith, with all due respect, your comment doesn’t address any of the concerns expressed in this post. As a professor at an orthodox and small Catholic liberal arts college in this diocese, I can assure you that one can be a very good professor/teacher/speaker in terms of one’s ability to reach an audience, but if one actively promotes stances in opposition to clear Church teachings, then that person perhaps should be considered at least questionable as a speaker for a Catholic parish event.

I have no specific or personal knowledge of Dr. Gaillardetz myself, but if this post is representative of his beliefs, I would seriously question whether he should speak at a Catholic parish.

Father Smith, perhaps you can address why dissident speakers (whether in toto or only in certain areas of their beliefs) can so easily find willing parishes and audiences in Catholic circles? Is it really that difficult to find speakers who are completely faithful to the Magisterium?

tantamergo - January 28, 2010

Thanks, Kevin, your questions are key. Said more directly and eloquently than I could have managed.

3. tantamergo - January 28, 2010

Duly noted. I know that in many regards Dr. Gaillardetz is well respected, but on issues of marriage (contraception) and fidelity to the magisterium/infalllible doctrines, there are a number of concerns. My wording was harsh last night, I was tired and bit angry after reading the long excerpt from ‘Sacriledge,’ but there are a number of legitimate critiques of aspects of Dr. Gaillardetz’ work. I can appreciate your defense for the Dr. At the same time, I don’t think his work is above reproach.

Were any critical assessments about him read prior to his being booked?

4. Rev. Clifford G. Smith - January 28, 2010

I suggest you read the following as Rick addresses it much more thoroughly than I can: http://www.cccb.ca/site/images/stories/pdf/response_richard_gaillardetz.pdf

5. Rev. Clifford G. Smith - January 28, 2010

He was booked because he was one of the best teachers I was privileged to have as a teacher in seminary, and because he taught theology faithful to the Magisterium and in support of it, as he has at the many conferences at which I have heard him speak. On this feast of St. Thomas Aquinas it might be healthy to remember that a few short years after his death he was condemned as a heretic by the Bishop of Paris.

tantamergo - January 28, 2010

“On this feast of St. Thomas Aquinas it might be healthy to remember that a few short years after his death he was condemned as a heretic by the Bishop of Paris.”

Which is why I think all of us who have critical comments try to adhere as faithfully to the defined dogma of the Church as fully as we can. In Dr. Gaillardetz’ case, his response in the CCCB case has already been deconstructed. I refer to:


This deconstruction was not done by an anonymous blogger, but by another respected theologian. Dr. Gaillardetz may be charming, he may be great speaker, but from his own writings there are areas where he does not agree with the defined dogmas of the Church. These areas include contraception, ordination, and infalliblity, and the definition of what construes a ‘defined doctrine’ in the first place. Steve Kellmeyer is right, his speaking at a national bishop’s conference does not constitute approval by the Magisterium of the Church, the Magisterium stretches far beyond one national conference.

I have read Dr. Gaillardetz’ responese to the CCCB with regard to the concerns raised, and of course the rebuttal. There may be some grey area here, but both the initial review of Gaillardetz’ work, and the rebuttal, seem far more definitive and quote Dr. Gaillardetz’ work far more thoroughly than does Gaillardetz’ own response. I must say, Gaillardetz’ response is both heavy-handed and dismissive. He does not respond to many of the critiques presented, but instead launches into ad hominem attacks on the motives of his critics.

I think Dr. Gaillardetz and others need to realize that just because a criticism comes from a blog, that does not mean it is ill-considered, ignorant, or judgemental. There are many intelligent, well-reasoned bloggers, and I think the critics Dr. Gaillardetz has been most concerned about are such. I would remind you also, on this feast of St. Thomas, that at one point Arianism was accepted by most Bishops and priests. The popularity of a viewpoint does not make it right.

Finally, in a world where the vast majority of Catholics, even those who attend Mass regularly, use artificial contraception, any statements from theologians that allow for that use after applying one’s conscience, demand a great deal of scrutiny. Contraception use is one of the greatest acts of defiance to the authority of the Church today – we must always be very very clear that such use is unacceptable and constitutes a mortal sin.

6. Kevin in Texas - January 29, 2010

Father Smith, thank you for linking to Dr. Gaillardetz’s letter to the Archbishop. After reading his letter and also reading the reviews of a few of his works from the Sacred Heart Major Seminary theologian in Detroit (linked in the original post above), I have to say that some of his views sound problematic to me as a devout Catholic Christian. I hope he doesn’t seek to spread some of his beliefs during any retreat talks that he gives in parishes, and that they remain academic questions debated among theologians, as otherwise I think he could potentially confuse a lot of well-meaning Catholics.

I know and can only begin to comprehend the tremendous responsibilities that fall upon diocesan priests, and especially parish pastors, in your day-to-day work with your parish flocks. Please know that many of us pray for God to grace you and your fellow priests daily, and we are very thankful for your vocations! Please also know that many, many of the faithful look up to you parish priests as their one and only representative of Christ in their lives, and your words and teachings carry tremendous weight (again, this is an awesome and huge responsibility that falls on you all!) If some faithful believers hear from Catholic speakers/theologians that certain “questionable” teachings are in line with the fullness of the Magisterium’s teachings, they will simply believe it without question or concern. Again, I don’t have any personal knowledge of Dr. Gaillardetz or what he discusses in his talks, and I hope he does speak faithfully of the teachings of the Magisterium. But if he does encourage people to question issues like the licitness of contraception, then I would say that could be very damaging to their souls, their family lives in the future, etc. The contraception mentality has led to the abortion mentality in modern Western societies, and it is so profoundly deleterious to our faith and our souls that Church teachings on the issue should be announced loudly and clearly by Church priests and teachers everywhere.

God bless!

7. Mary - January 29, 2010

I have to agree with Kevin, we thank you Fr. Smith for your priesthood and what you have done for the parish, you have definitely raised it a couple of notches. Our family prays for and thanks God for you, Fr. Smith, and all of our priests every day.

However, I have an issue with people who proclaim that contraception – birth control – is acceptable within the Catholic Church. Contraception says I give you all of me, except this one thing. It also allows the couple to “plan” their future of children, distancing God from their lives. Contracepting is saying “Even though you are a wonderful God, I am the one who knows how many children I can handle, and when I should have them, not YOU, God. That is not fully trusting in God and accepting His will for us.

In addition, a HUGE problem with contraception (besides the fact that it can cause abortions in some cases) is that it is a baby step away from abortions!!! What – how can that be? Well, think about it. Contraception says I don’t want to get pregnant and have a child right now. So, what happens when contraception fails – and the failure rate is not miniscule? The seed has already been planted, the thought that “now’s not a good time”. So, the next step for most is a trip to Planned Parenthood or some other abortuary.

In our time, when so many people like to plan out their day, their life, it is easy to get wrapped up in this “ME” mentality. Parents, and all married couples need to hear the importance of “not my will but, God’s will be done”. We want to hear the truth, we NEED to hear the truth. If we are not living according to the teachings of the Church, we NEED to hear it. We do NOT need to hear that we are still good people and God’s cool with us living the way we want, not the way HE is asking us to.

The problem with a presentation by Dr. Gaillardetz is that many are led to believe he is an expert in the matters on which he is discussing. When he says contraception can be acceptable, most people accept his word as a teaching of the Church. This is, in fact, the problem with bringing speakers in whos beliefs conflict with the teachings of the Catholic Church. Too many people don’t know what the true teachings of the Church are. When they are not told the truth, they don’t know it. Even if he is not speaking on such issues but sells books that contain false teachings, then damage is still being done.

8. Steve Kellmeyer - January 29, 2010

Fr. Cliff, you fail to note that all of the good Doktor’s works were PULLED from the USCCB website on marriage.
See: http://tinyurl.com/ydsgp4q

Why did they do that, Father?
Did the bishops fail to read the good Doktor’s response?

I know he’s one of your old professors, and you’ve told me he taught you how to think.

So, think. Use that wonderful grey-haired noggin up there, and noodle a bit. Aquinas was indeed condemned as a heretic by the bishop of Paris. But Aquinas didn’t teach that undertaking an objectively evil act (e.g., contraception) was ok as long as you were sincere. He didn’t allow his work to be used to support women’s ordination, he didn’t write sympathetically about active sodomites.

How on EARTH do you get your work pulled from the USCCB website, of all places?

The website that had a glowing review of Brokeback Mountain yanks Doktor G’s work?

And we’re privileged to have him at St. Mark’s!
Oh, JOY!

9. Steve Kellmeyer - January 29, 2010

Oh, a correction of fact, and I apologize profusely for agreeing with Fr. Cliff without double-checking his facts. I should have known better, given his instructor.

Thomas was not condemned as a heretic.


“In his effort to destroy Siger, the Bishop of Paris, Stephen Tempier, published a list of condemned propositions in 1270 and an even longer list (219 to be exact) in 1277. It was inevitable that such a comprehensive list would include some of the Aristotelian propositions that Aquinas employed in defence of the faith. But Aquinas was not the target of the condemnation, since he died in 1274. Nevertheless, the Pope insisted that the Bishop remove every Thomist proposition from the list.”

Father, let’s get back to the proposition that you should spend some time in thought. And maybe a little more in research. Look at the egregious error *I* just made because I failed to research my fellow disputant’s statements thoroughly! And I’m not the primary catechist of a parish!

Don’t you think YOU should be even more careful?
I think you should.

tantamergo - January 29, 2010

I had wondered about that, because it didn’t sound quite right to me. Thank you, Steve, for researching the St. Thomas excommunication issue.

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

[…] about it here and […]

11. Rick Gaillardetz - February 2, 2010

There comes a point where, sadly, it becomes clear that on going dialogue with those with whom one disagrees may no longer be fruitful. In earlier posts I have tried to affirm my fidelity to the teaching of the church. Fr. Smith has invited you to read a five page clarification I wrote in response to earlier attacks. Some of you have chosen to rely instead on the “deconstruction” of my views by some other theologian. That is your right. I tried to reassure those of you rightfully concerned about my orthodoxy that members of the magisterium have judged my work favorably. (the poster who noted the removal of my book from the USCCB website should know that I was explicitly told by a conference representative that this action did NOT represent a negative doctrinal judgment of my work but simply a prudential judgment by the sub-committee on marriage and family that it was best not to list books that some Catholics saw as controversial). For many of you this argument had no merit because individually bishops, though sharing in the magisterium of the church, do not share the charism of infallibility. I certainly recognize that mistaken episcopal judgments of this kind have been made in the past. The earlier post about Arianism is indeed an excellent example. The difficulty at this point is that it becomes impossible for me to imagine an argument that I might make in my defense that someone on this website would not be able to find a way to rebut. I posted a five page letter which Fr. Smith invited all of you to read in which I articulated my support for the church’s teaching. The Canadian bishops conference found this acceptable but some on this site have not. It is hard to foresee a satisfactory conclusion to this kind of exchange. Let me conclude what I believe will be my final post on this site with the following: I do feel the need to acknowledge that I may have uncharitably misrepresented the holy and faithful intentions of those who have challenged my views on this site and elsewhere. We should all be prepared to presume the best of intentions with those with whom we disagree and I must admit, that in the face of sometimes harsh criticism, I have not always done so. We should presume that all of us share a love for our church and a deep and abiding commitment to that precious faith that we profess each Sunday at mass. Finally, whatever one’s views on any of a number of controverted questions raised in this thread, the readers should recall that what originally started the thread was the occasion of my speaking at a Lenten mission at a local parish. A Lenten mission is a time for penitential reflection and growth in faith. My only desire for the people of St. Mark’s is that they grow in their Catholic faith and in their relationship with Christ and his church during the Lenten season. I want to assure the people of your diocese that I do not address theologically controverted questions at such missions. There is no place for such debate in a parish mission. Those who are concerned about my views on such topics as contraception (a teaching, once again, that I have never repudiated) should be assured that in a parish mission I would never consider issuing a challenge to such church teachings nor would I encourage dissent from ANY teaching of the church. In the absence of any larger agreement on the issues that concern the bloggers on this site, let us try to focus on our common faith and the obligations to continue to pray for one another that issue forth from our baptism. I will read further responses with interest, but I think I will need to make this my final post on this thread. Peace.

12. Steve Kellmeyer - February 2, 2010

Hey, good to have you back again!

Let’s see what you are obfuscating today, shall we?

1) Your 5-page letter was NOT “deconstructed” by a single theologian. Rather, it was torn to shreds and shown to be a complete theological farce by by numerous theologians. Note the plural.

2) You say an one or more individuals at the CCCB and USCCB said your work was still approved.

In reference to the USCCB, was it the male or female sodomites at the USCCB who approved of your work? (see http://www.pewsitter.com/view_news_id_28721.php and http://www.pewsitter.com/view_news_id_26776.php)

The USCCB site review of your book said “[Dr. Gaillardetz] notes that a couple who still “cannot discover in (magisterial teaching) God’s will” can follow their consciences. While he says most “domestic churches” are constituted by marriage and include children, he includes under that term other households.”

So, are you saying the *USCCB* lied about your work?
Is that your position, DOCTOR?

In reference to the CCB, even if the CCB were trustworthy (which is a controverted question we certainly wouldn’t want to take up here) why should we believe you on that score, given that your story about the USCCB is already full of holes?

3) How about you just tell us your thoughts on whether a married couple can legitimately contracept? Go ahead, tell us.

Only DO try to make it match what you’ve said elsewhere, would you? It’s so embarrassing for you to be constantly caught out in lies, don’t you think? Perhaps you don’t…

4) The permissibility of contraception is not a “controverted question.” It is an objective and intrinsic evil which cannot be undertaken for ANY reason. There is no question on this point. None whatsoever. Same goes for sodomy.

5) Heretics should not be allowed to speak on church property for any reason whatsoever. Even when they do not engage “controverted questions,” they subtly skew the information they do present so as to distort the correct understanding of the Church. While you may not be a formal heretic, the USCCB has already testified on its website through its review of your work, to the fact that you are a material heretic.

Remember, it’s your *FRIENDS* at the USCCB who put us on to you.
If it weren’t for your FRIENDS, we might never have known what a theological screw-up you are. So I would like to take this opportunity to thank your friends at the USCCB for their witness.

The sensus fidelium has judged you and your work.
Why won’t you accept the judgement?

“It is important to recognize dissent for what it is, and not to mistake it for a mature contribution to a balanced and wide-ranging debate.”
– Benedict XVI

13. Steve Kellmeyer - February 2, 2010

Oh, and I almost forgot your own bishop’s opinion of your theology:

“Lest Mr. Gaillardetz’s teaching position and self-identification as a Catholic create any misunderstandings, it should be pointed out that his opinions regarding the issue of abortion, and Roe vs. Wade in particular, do not reflect the clear and consistent moral position of the United States Catholic bishops.”

Doktor?… (sigh)
Isn’t it a pity?
He won’t respond!

14. tantamergo - February 2, 2010

Dr. Gaillardetz:

I made clear I had read both your five page letter to the CCCB and the critique of your comments therein – I felt your initial response left many questions regarding your previous statements unanswered, and that the critique showed that there were problems with that 5 page letter.

Again, there are constant references to the approval of the Magisterium because you have spoken before bishops or bishops conferences. That really doesn’t mean anything, as others have said. Look, I’ve spoken with the Bishop, I’ve spoken in front of pastors, does that mean I have their approval for what I write on this blog? You and I both know such a claim would be false.

You’ve made statements in the past that from all appearances deviate from the established doctrine of the Church – some of those deviations have been pointed out here directly, and some are contained in the material that has been linked from this site. You haven’t substantially addressed these deviations save for repeated appeals to authority and special pleading. To answer your question, if one is deviating from Church doctrine, I’m not sure there is a defense, save to issue a mea culpa or to try to demonstrate that the deviation was misunderstood. To the degree that your 5 page letter was a defense, it has been found wanting.

The conference you will be speaking at is on the sacramental married life. You have stated in the past that couples should try to follow Church doctrine on contraception, but you amended that by stating that if couples find following that doctrine too hard to do they can contracept and remain in good standing in the Church. That is simply false, and that is a huge issue that is likely to come up at a conference on marriage. Despite your protestations, there is no assurance that an incorrect view of the Church’s teaching on contraception will not be communicated to conferees. The statement about other types of relationships than those involving a man and woman in the sacred bonds of matrimony making up the domestic Church is another area of direct relevance that is not in union with the doctrine of the Church.

Both issues are key for any speaker addressing a Catholic audience – there must be a clear understanding of the doctrine of the Faith. Also, the confused idea of what constitutes the Magisterium that has been repeatedly presented on this site and in some of your work is also very worrying – if you confuse the Magisterium in regard to the opinion of the Church on your work, you may confuse the Magisterium with regard to issues directly related to the sacrament of marriage, and this could lead again to the wrong things being communicated to conferees.

I’m sorry, even in charity, I have not seen anything in your replies that have alleviated my concerns (and those of others), or that make me think your speaking would not pose any harm to those attending your conference. There is only one truth, and the Church has stated infallibly that marriage, the domestic Church, is only between a man and woman, that contraception is intrinsically evil, and that the Magisterium consists of the Pope, a properly constituted council, and the long held traditions of Faith.

I appreciate that you seem to be trying to be conciliatory, and I think that is positive. But I can’t reconcile your previous statements with Church doctrine – and that’s a big problem.

15. Richard Gaillardetz - February 3, 2010

Alas, I am unable to keep silent as I had promised earlier. Two very brief comments. To Mr. Kellmeyer: I have abandoned any hope of dialogue with you. I do ask you, however, to re-read your posts. Completely apart from the merit of any of your arguments and complaints, I ask you in all charity, is this really the tone we should use in challenging our brothers and sisters in the faith? Your last two posts are dripping with sarcasm and derision. Is that really necessary? Does that tone build up the body of Christ? You may well have legitimate concerns, but your tone suggests that you are less interested in those concerns than in scoring rhetorical points. And yes, I may be guilty of this as well, but at least I made an effort to purge my last response of that kind of unhelpful rhetoric. To Tantamergo: I do appreciate your attempt to distance yourself from the derisive tone of your original post. I recognize that my responses have not alleviated your concerns and I regret that. I am unwilling to respond further, however, not because I am unable to, but because the breadth of the accusations would require a lengthy essay inappropriate to a blog. You noted that my official response “has been found wanting.” I wish you would have added that it had been found wanting BY YOU. Others, including the Canadian bishops, have found that response satisfactory. Surely you will understand that it is simply not practical to offer independent defenses to every individual with questions when I have publicaly responded satisfactorily to those in authority. This does not mean that your concerns are less legitimate but there is a reason that we have an apostolic office in the church and the primary obligation of a theologian is to maintain communion with the bishops, not with every individual believer who has issues, however legitimate, with one’s views. For example, an earlier post selectively quoted a statement from my own bishop. What your readers could not know from that post was that in subsequent correspondence with my bishop he clarified that he did not intend by that statement to suggest that I had departed from church doctrine on abortion but only that I did not agree with the consistent policy position of the bishops’ conference regarding Roe v. Wade. Moreover, it has become clear to me that any good faith effort at dialogue and explanation is too likely to be met with further tirades from some who post on this blog, posts that are altogether lacking in charity and nuance. It is my conviction that there are certain kinds of dialogue that simply are not handled well in the blogosphere. If you are genuinely interested in a respectful conversation with me, then I invite you to send me a private e-mail and I will be happy to engage you further.

16. tantamergo - February 3, 2010

I think we’ve come to a point of impasse, where neither side is going to be satisfied. I think any discussions on this topic should be public, not private, because we are dealing with a public issue. I would like to remind anyone reading this that it is not just me or a few commenters here that have raised questions about the appropriateness of Dr. Gaillardetz’ work – two theologians, one whose comments are on the Canadian blog socon-or-bust and one here, have also had questions and/or concerns – strong concerns. I think the lack of responsiveness on Dr. Gaillardetz’ part is unfortunate, because I think questions of this sort deserve a more thoroughgoing response. There are other factors at play here, factors that privacy prevent me from presenting, but I can state that there are some with concerns about this upcoming conference that have a far larger role in the local Church than I do.

I think at this point we’ve all made our positions clear, and there isn’t much to be gained by further correspondence. I’m going to close out comments on this and the other thread.

Sorry comments are closed for this entry

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