By Patrick B. Craine and Steve Jalsevac

OTTAWA, Ontario, October 20, 2009 ( – Despite efforts by the Vatican to bring back out-dated Catholicism, the Second Vatican Council was a “paradigm shift” in the Church that “cannot be invalidated,” said controversial theologian Gregory Baum, in an October 15th keynote address at Saint Paul’s University, reports the Catholic Register.

He delivered his address at a conference on ‘Vatican II in Canada’, hosted by the faculty of theology at the Ottawa Catholic university from October 15-16. A response to Baum’s keynote was delivered by Bishop Remi De Roo, the former Bishop of Victoria.

Baum, who attended the Vatican Council as a theological expert, opposes Church teaching on a range of issues, including priestly celibacy and homosexuality. He is infamous in Canada as having been one of the most outspoken rebels against Pope Paul VI’s condemnation of contraception in Humanae Vitae. Bishop De Roo was a Council father, and is a trained teacher of the new-age ‘Enneagram’. He is a featured guest at conferences of Call to Action, which has been denounced by the Vatican for its opposition to Church teaching.

The conference was permitted and even advertised by the Archdiocese of Ottawa, which encouraged participants in their adult faith development program to attend, despite warnings about the heterodoxy of the two speakers. LifeSiteNews brought the problem to the diocese’s attention, but rather than remove the advertisement, they added a link to Saint Paul’s website with more information.

Delivering a message of “hope,” Baum said that, “The church has become more critical and, at the same time, more open to the world. … The church has become more critical because it has taken on a prophetic role and denounces injustice and inequality.”

The Council, he said, has brought a focus on social justice and the emancipation of the poor. Additionally, the Council re-envisioned the Church’s relationship with non-Catholics, “advancing dialogue and co-operation with other Christians, Jews and other religions.”

Nevertheless, the continued implementation of the Council is being undermined by Conservative Catholics, aided by the Vatican, he said. “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 claimed. “Vatican II may suffer neglect for a certain time, but as an ecumenical council it cannot be invalidated.”

He says that as pope, Benedict XVI has been “inconsistent,” emphasizing ‘proclamation’ at certain points and ‘dialogue’ at others. While the late Pope John Paul II focused on dialogue in dealing with other religions, said Baum, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger emphasized “proclamation” against relativism.

“Will the Pope change his mind again?” he asked. “On this issue the magisterium is presently inconsistent.”

Msgr. Vincent Foy, theologian and former head of Toronto’s archdiocesan marriage tribunal wrote in a 1996 report on Gergory Baum that in his opinion, Baum “has done more to help destroy the Church in Canada than any other person.” Foy also noted that at a 1963 Anglican Congress, Baum, who had a known history of appreciation for Marxism, asked “whether the ideals of Marx were not aims for which the Church should have worked.”

In his response to Baum, Bishop De Roo praised the Church of Canada, saying, “Canada is one of the countries where the work of the council has been successfully implemented,” stressing particularly its work in social justice.

Bishop De Roo, who had been praised by some for his work in social justice and his criticism of capitalism, left his diocese in debt after he lost millions of dollars in failed real estate and horse breeding ventures.

He accused Rome of centralizing and “playing down” national churches and bishops’ conferences, and said that the Vatican has many who are “prisoners of the Enlightenment,” overemphasizing the mind to the exclusion of the heart and body.

He encouraged, further, more contributions from female theologians, saying that the Church needs to get “outside of patriarchal boxes.”

See related coverage:

Ottawa’s Saint Paul University to Feature Dissidents Gregory Baum and Bishop Remi De Roo