OTTAWA, Ontario, July 23, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Catholic activists are urging a Vatican Cardinal to skip a controversial conference at Ottawa’s Saint Paul University this September that features numerous speakers strongly opposed to Catholic teaching.
The “Vatican II for the Next Generation” conference, to be hosted Sept. 27-30 by SPU’s Vatican II and 21st Century Catholicism Research Centre, is intended to honour the 50th anniversary of the Council’s opening.
In addition to numerous speakers who question Catholic teachings on issues such as abortion, contraception, homosexuality, and women’s ordination, it will feature a keynote address by Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.
Pro-life activist John Pacheco has launched an online petition to Canada’s nuncio, Archbishop Pedro López Quintana, asking that he ensure Cardinal Turkson is aware of the speakers’ controversial views. It has 240 signatures so far.
“We would hope that a Cardinal of the Church and representative of His Holiness would avoid an occasion of scandal which would be caused by his appearance and participation,” it reads.
Among the controversial speakers is Prof. Richard Gaillardetz, a theologian at Boston College who was rebuked by his bishop in 2008 when he wrote an op-ed arguing that Barack Obama was the “pro-life candidate” in that year’s federal election because of his social policy on poverty and healthcare. He has also questioned the definitive status of Humanae vitae, in which Pope Paul VI reiterated the Church’s condemnation of contraception, and the Church’s teaching on the impossibility of women’s ordination.
The conference will also feature a panel of “witnesses” to the Council who participated in its proceedings fifty years ago, which includes Gregory Baum and Bishop Remi De Roo.
Bishop De Roo, a Council father, is a trained teacher of the new-age ‘Enneagram’ and has been a featured guest at conferences of Call to Action, a notorious dissenting organization which has been denounced by the Vatican for its opposition to Church teaching. He played a key role in the Canadian Bishops’ adoption of the Winnipeg Statement in 1968, in which they opposed Humanae vitae.
De Roo also celebrated a bizarre giant Puppet Mass, with liturgical dancers at a Nov. 6, 2008 Call to Action conference in Milwaukee.
Baum, a former priest, is particularly notorious for helping rally opposition to Humanae Vitae, and has been a prominent activist for same-sex “marriage.”
In a 2009 talk at Saint Paul University, Baum accused Pope Benedict XVI of undermining Vatican II. “A conservative movement, sponsored by the Vatican itself, remains attached to the old paradigm, overlooks the bold texts of the conciliar documents and tries to restore the Catholicism of yesterday,” he said. “Vatican II may suffer neglect for a certain time, but as an ecumenical council it cannot be invalidated.”
A plenary session will feature Fr. Gilles Routhier, a theologian at Laval University whose testimony in a 2009 trial over the Quebec government’s controversial Ethics and Religious Culture program led the judge to forbid parents from opting their children out.
Prof. Catherine Clifford, the conference organizer, told the Catholic Register that critics have taken the speakers’ views “out of context.” “I think they misrepresent the work and damage the reputations of these people,” she said.
“I think we’re at a point in the Church where the laity really need to make their voices heard,” Pacheco told LifeSiteNews. “Faithful Catholics who are loyal to the Magisterium need to have their concerns acted on by the hierarchy - no matter what the cost.”
Saint Paul University did not respond to LifeSiteNews.com by press time.
The online petition is available here.