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Archdiocesan Theologian

Salkeld BrettHello,

My name is Brett Salkeld, and I am the Archdiocesan Theologian for the Archdiocese of Regina.  In this role I am available to consult on theological questions for the Bishop, the Presbyterate, and for all the faithful of the Archdiocese.  My recently launched blog on the Archdiocesan website, sASK-a-Theologian, is a forum where you can ask me any theological question that has been exercising your mind, and I’ll do my best to give you a helpful answer.

My area of academic focus during my theological studies was on ecumenical dialogue.  In this capacity I will support our ecumenical commission and parish ecumenical representatives in their efforts to seek mutual understanding and greater unity with our brothers and sisters in Christ who are not in communion with the Catholic Church.

Finally, my biggest project is to get a local diaconal formation program up and running so that we as a diocese can provide an answer to and a place for those men in our community who are called to the permanent diaconate.  This is a very large undertaking involving promotion, discernment, administration, and teaching, but it is also a very exciting project with huge potential to serve the people of God in the Archdiocese of Regina for years to come.  Having worked with candidates for the diaconate in St. Catharine’s (while studying in Toronto) and Vancouver (during a year at St. Mark’s College), I bring important experience to this project and also a sense of hope and joy from having seen the faith and dedication of the men pursuing this important vocation in those dioceses.

What's New

This is the fourth of a five-part series.

In the first three parts of this series I have tried to paint a bleak picture of what the legal availability of physician-assisted suicide means for vulnerable individuals and Canadian culture generally. On the other hand, while this legal battle seems unwinnable at this stage, I am not without hope. The church has lived through bleak times before. 

While history is no picnic, Christianity offers us great resources for dealing with evil. In the final two instalments of this series I want to look at those resources. Today we will look at what Christians and our allies can do to both live and give hope in our current legal situation. In our final instalment we will look at the spiritual resources Christians have for facing death and dying.

In a culture with legally available physician-assisted suicide, several practical options for action present themselves to those who are troubled by the legal status quo.


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Op Ed in the Leader Post

Last updated on June 28, 2016

Last Tuesday, I was lucky to be a member of an ecumenical and interfaith delegation that went to the provincial legislature to present a joint statement calling for more palliative care in our province and conscience rights for health care workers and institutions in light of Canada's new laws on assisted suicide.  The delegation included Roman and Ukrainian Catholic, Anglican, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Evangelical, and Muslim delegates and represented a much larger group of signatories to the joint statement that included Jewish, Muslim, and a great many Christian communities.

We met with Health Minister Dustin Duncan, the NDP caucus under opposition leader Trent Wotherspoon, and Premier Brad Wall.  It was a very encouraging meeting and we are hopeful that both the government and the opposition are willing to try to find workable solutions both on increasing access to palliative care in our province and on ensuring health care workers and...

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A Christian Approach to Death and Dying

Last updated on July 12, 2016

While it is not necessary to appeal to Scripture or the authority of the Church to demonstrate that assisted suicide is bad for people and for society (you’ll notice I made no such appeals in the first four parts of this series), that does not mean that Christian faith is of no help for our present situation. 

It should be possible to demonstrate from rational principles accessible to people of all faiths (or none) that assisted suicide is an evil.  And Catholics are generally happy to approach the public square with arguments that do not require faith in order to be accepted.  On the other hand, the fear of death and suffering that underlies the contemporary push for and wide social acceptance of assisted suicide cannot be answered by a simple appeal to rational principles.  It is here, I suggest, that we most need to Gospel of Jesus Christ.

All the rational argumentation in the world won’t make much difference when people are afraid of death, of suffering, of losing...

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The duty to die?

Last updated on May 30, 2016

By Brett Salkeld

The following is the third of a five-part series.

We live in a culture that makes an idol out of choice. In our basic and unquestioned public discourse choice per se, without any reference to the object of that choice, is seen as a basic good. Choice is understood as the sine qua non for authentic human freedom. Take away someone’s choice in any matter and you limit their freedom. This is seen as acceptable only when their choice might harm others.

It should not be surprising, then, that while the initial public arguments in favour of assisted suicide tended to hinge on eliminating unnecessary and extreme physical suffering, the discourse is quickly infused with the language of choice. “Who can presume,” we are asked, “to deny another person the right to choose to die?”

Indeed, children of one of Canada’s first assisted suicides told the media that, “Our father’s legacy comes down to one word: choice.”

We can leave aside, until...

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This is the second of a five-part series.  In the first part of this series we looked at the claim that, “An assisted dying law would not result in more people dying, but in fewer people suffering.” We saw that, while the statement is true, it is irrelevant. No kind of killing increases the number of people dying for the simple reason that everybody dies. But there is another problem with this statement: it imagines death as the solution to suffering. This is a dangerous idea. People contemplating suicide do not want to die. They can simply see no other way out of their suffering. When we can give them hope that their suffering can be addressed, the desire for suicide disappears. When comedian Robin Williams took his own life, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences created a meme of his famed blue genie from Disney’s Aladdin, with Williams being released from lamp captivity with the caption, “Genie, you’re free.” The meme was almost inevitable. The rapid spread of this meme... Read More

This is the first of a five-part series on assisted suicide by Archdiocesan Theologian Brett Salkeld.  It is being co-published on his Archdiocesan blog sAsk-a-Theologian and in the Prairie Messenger every two weeks.  Parishes are very welcome to print and distribute this material in their Sunday bulletins and to provide the link to this blog in their bulletins and other communications platforms, i.e., Facebook pages, e-mail listservs, etc. ____________________________________________

When faced with difficult discussions surrounding highly politicized hot button topics, it is important to be very clear about just what one is arguing for and against.  In our sound-bite, talking-point media (and social media) culture, it is very easy to get sidelined by being manipulated into arguing for things that one does not actually believe. 

Have a look at these two statements:

“An assisted dying law would not result in more people dying, but in fewer people...

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Why Dialogue If You Already Have The Truth?

Last updated on October 16, 2017
I have recently come across questions about dialogue in the Catholic tradition in at least three different contexts.  First of all, Pope Francis’s prayer intention for January 2016 was interreligious dialogue.  This got a lot more play than is normal for a Pope’s monthly intention because it was also the first time the Vatican accompanied the announcement of the Pope’s prayer intention with a video.  Many Catholics expressed concern about this choice of intention.  “Why dialogue with false religions?” they asked.  “Shouldn’t we be evangelizing people instead?  Isn’t dialogue an admission of relativism?  Aren’t we saying, or at least implying, that all religions are equally true?”   Second, at our most recent diaconate formation weekend, we were studying apologetics.  When the instructor gave an argument in favour of the idea that the Church Jesus founded could be identified with the Catholic Church (and therefore that Protestants are mistaken about the role of Peter and the papacy),... Read More

One of the most difficult teachings of the Catholic Church for contemporary people to understand is the Perpetual Virginity of Mary.  Actually, in one way, it is one of the easiest things to understand.  We may not have any sense of what it means to be conceived without Original Sin (the meaning of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception) because we simply cannot imagine that.  We can, on the other hand, imagine what perpetual virginity is, namely, that Mary never had sexual intercourse throughout the course of her life.

It is not that we don’t know what it means, but that we can scarcely believe it is possible.  My hope here is to show not only that Mary’s perpetual virginity is possible, but that it is meaningful.  We cannot, strictly speaking, prove something like the doctrine of Mary’s Perpetual Virginity.  What would such proof even look like? But if we can show that the doctrine is both possible and meaningful, we have good reason to trust the ancient witness of the...

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Conscience or Church Teaching?

Last updated on October 9, 2015

Frank Flegel recently wrote a blog expressing his confusion over the question of conscience and its relation to Church teaching.  Frank had recently attended two events in our Archdiocese where the speakers, a priest and Catholic ethicist Father Mark Miller, CSsR, and the Bishop Emeritus of Victoria Remi de Roo, made comments about the primacy of conscience that seemed to conflict with the idea that Catholics are required to follow Church teaching on important moral issues (among other things!).

I want to thank Frank for his honest and heartfelt question because it is a question that many Catholics of good will have when they are told about the primacy of conscience in the Catholic moral tradition.  I hope I am able to help Frank and many others understand Church teaching on this matter in a way that honours both the role of conscience and our obligation to follow the teaching of the Church.

As usual, a good starting point for us is the Catechism of the Catholic...

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Practices of Faith in the Home

Last updated on September 10, 2015

Archbishop Daniel Bohan would like Catholic families to reintroduce or reemphasize the practice of saying grace before meals in this 100th Anniversary of our being an Archdiocese.  Pretty simple.  Pretty easy to do.  But will it make any difference?  Can something as small as a memorized prayer before a family meal stand up to the massive pressures we often feel against our faith in contemporary culture?

In the past, Catholics have sometimes put the wrong emphasis on certain practices of popular piety or even of obligations like fasting on Friday.  If anyone was given the impression that having their eggs accidentally touch bacon grease on a Friday morning meant they were in a state of mortal sin, it is not surprising that such practices were largely abandoned in favour of a less legalistic approach to the life of faith.

But when Catholics were (rightly) encouraged not to view the practices of faith through such legalistic lenses, they often lost sight of the real...

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