In recent weeks I have reluctantly criticized the bishops’ new website on marriage for, among other things, recommending as a marriage resource a book by dissident theologian Richard Gaillardetz. I also raised these concerns with a few of the bishops who serve on the Marriage and Family Committee of the USCCB, who said they would look into this.
Apparently they have.
Last week a friend emailed me to tell me that the review of Dr. Gaillardetz’ book A Daring Promise: A Spirituality of Marriage in the “Book of the Month” section of the website has been removed. This development was also recently reported by The Curt Jester.
This is an encouraging development, but it reflects only a partial resolution of the difficulty. Dr. Gaillardetz’ book is still included on a short list of four books recommended for couples who are preparing for marriage, as well as on a longer list of marriage resources that seems to eschew Catholic publishers known for their orthodoxy (e.g., Ignatius Press, Emmaus Road, Our Sunday Visitor, Sophia Press, etc.), favoring publishers that are either “progressively Catholic,” Protestant, or secular. It’s not that the latter can’t publish books that are worthwhile, but the selections taken as a whole are a bit curious, to say the least.
In addition, I understand that there is still no mention on the website that contraception is a serious sin or, as the Catechism (no. 2370) puts it, “intrinsically evil.” I also could find no mention in the cohabitation section that flat out advises that premarital intercourse is a sin. Instead, it merely states that sex outside of marriage “cannot express what God intended” and “says something false.” True, but on something this fundamentally important, we need things spelled out more clearly, especially when we have teachers like Dr. Gaillardetz who offer ambiguity rather than orthodoxy. In my opinion, it’s a toxic brew.
As noted previously, the “For Your Marriage” site has tremendous potential, and even now has many good and helpful features. Plus, the bishops who serve on the committee that is ultimately responsible for the site are terrific shepherds in their own right who have done much to strengthen marriage in their own dioceses. So, I think there is good reason to be optimistic that further improvements to the site are in the offing. Stay tuned . . .