Antigonish Diocese to Run Conference with Dissident Paul Lakeland

Wed Oct 6, 2010 - 12:15 pm EST

By Patrick B. Craine

SYDNEY MINES, Nova Scotia, October 5, 2010 ( – The Diocese of Antigonish, Nova Scotia, has organized a conference this month to be delivered by dissident theologian and former Jesuit priest Dr. Paul Lakeland of Fairfield University in Connecticut, who openly holds views on abortion, homosexuality, contraception and women priests that go against Catholic teaching.

The conference, entitled ‘Catholicism at the Crossroads: How We Can Save the Church’ and scheduled for October 22-24, has a strong emphasis on the role of lay people in the Church.  The brochure includes a quote from Pope Benedict XVI, calling for lay people to be “co-responsible” for the Church rather than mere “‘collaborators’ of the clergy” (Rome Conference on the Laity, June 2009).

There is strong evidence, however, that Lakeland’s vision of a “co-responsible” laity radically diverges from that of the pope and the bishops.

In his books, Lakeland suggests that Catholics can disagree with the Church’s condemnation of contraception and homosexual acts, for example.  He has even suggested that the Church should not seek a ban on abortion, based on the notion that Catholics should not impose their view on the entire population.

In his book The Liberation of the Laity, he wrote: “What we have is an episcopate of men selected more for their commitment to the party line on outmoded ideas about contraception, ordination, and homosexuality, more for their administrative capabilities than for their stature as spiritual leaders.”

While the diocese’s conference brochure lists several of Lakeland’s publications, it leaves out his 1975 book “Can Women Be Priests?,” in which he seeks to refute theological objections to a female priesthood and calls for it to be introduced after suitable preparations.

Lakeland was the keynote speaker at a synod in September that was disavowed by the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis.  Organized by a group called the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform (CCCR), it was entitled “Claiming our Place at the Table.”

In a statement last month, the Archdiocese of Saint Paul-Minneapolis wrote that the synod “is not being conducted under the auspices of the Archdiocese, the universal Roman Catholic Church, or any entity or organization affiliated with the Archdiocese or the universal Roman Catholic Church.”

In 2009, Lakeland opposed the Connecticut bishops by backing a state bill that sought to transfer control of Roman Catholic parishes to lay-run boards.

Diocesan spokesman Fr. Paul Abbass said he would look into the event, but did not hear back after repeated calls. did not hear back from Dr. Lakeland by press time.

Contact Information:

Most Rev. Brian J. Dunn, Bishop of Antigonish  
Box 1330
Antigonish, NS B2G 2L7
Telephone: (902) 863-3335
Fax: (902) 863-0037
Email: [email protected]

See related coverage:

Archdiocese Disavows any Connection with Liberal ‘Synod’

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