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 ecumenical dialogue and I am happy that I am also serving as the Ecumenical Officer for the Archdiocese.  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

Hell and the New Translation

Last updated on December 20, 2014

A reader (a pastor who has faced these questions from his congregation) asks:

“Many people still question the use of the term 'hell' in the Creed. Some are even upset because for them it connotes eternal damnation and irreparable separation from God, despite the best efforts of the Catechism of the Catholic Church to explain it's reintroduction in the Creed replacing the term 'the dead'. Even article 635 of the Catechism uses the term 'death' rather than 'hell'. How can we help people to better understand this in light of the long popular understanding of 'hell' which, in all honesty was taught very vigorously by many clerics in the past?”

Thank you for your question Father!

Yes, of the many changes to the English translation we went through a couple years back, this is certainly one of the most jarring and probably requires the most pastoral attention because of precisely the issues you allude to.  It is easy to get the impression that someone somewhere is...

Read More

Can Catholics Believe in Evolution?

Last updated on December 12, 2014

Pope Francis recently (re)asserted that the scientific theory of evolution is compatible with traditional Christian teaching about God and creation.  As we might have expected, the media then completely botched the story.  (For a helpful analysis of this, see Joe Heschmeyer’s post here:  http://www.wordonfire.org/resources/blog/what-the-media-got-wrong-about-pope-francis-and-evolution/4552/)  Among other things, they made this sound like a break from his predecessor, as if Benedict XVI and his inner circle, Cardinal Schoenborn of Vienna in particular, were somehow against evolution.*  Nothing could be further from the truth.  In fact, one of the best books on the topic of evolution and Christian faith is Schoenborn’s Chance or Purpose: Creation, Evolution and a Rational Faith? 

The fact is that the Church has been very comfortable with evolution as a scientific theory since at least the pontificate of Pius XII and his encyclical Humani Generis (1950).  John Paul II and...

Read More

In the Christian understanding, suffering can be redemptive and useful, but it is not automatically so.  Suffering, misunderstood or poorly endured can be simply destructive.

One of the most painful aspects of the separation of Christians is the fact that we cannot share the Eucharist together.  With some exceptions, Catholics cannot receive the Eucharist in non-Catholic Christian churches and non-Catholics Christians cannot receive in Catholic Churches.  This is, and should be, painful.  It should be painful because it is a reminder that we are not united in faith as we are called to be.

On the other hand, there is a common misconception about the Church’s reasons for this painful discipline that can rob this pain of some of its redemptive value and reduce it to useless and destructive suffering.  Many people believe that the basic reason for the Church’s refusal to admit non-Catholics to the table in our Eucharistic celebrations follows...

Read More

What’s Wrong with In Vitro Fertilization?

Last updated on March 25, 2014

One of the most difficult teachings of the Church for people to understand is its rejection of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF).  What could the Catholic Church possibly have against bringing new life into the world?  Isn’t it supposed to be universally pro-life?

Contributing to the confusion surrounding this question is that many people have been given deeply unsatisfactory answers to our title question by well-meaning but uninformed people.  So, for example, one may hear something like, “If God wanted you to have a baby, it would happen naturally.  We can’t play God.”

Such answers completely miss the point.  They don’t simply rule out IVF, but any medical intervention at all which aims at increasing a couple’s chance of conceiving a child.  But the Catholic Church does not oppose any number of such medical interventions.  In fact, they are positively encouraged: the Church wants infertile couples to be able to have babies!  (See the links below for more info on this.) ...

Read More

Virtue of Hope 18 Nov 2013

Last updated on February 25, 2014

On Sunday Nov. 17, 2013, I gave my second of three talks on the theological virtues to SOURCE - Regina youth and young adult ministry.  SOURCE is a joint ministry of three Regina parishes (Resurrection, Christ the King, and Holy Family) and the Archdiocesan Youth Office. 

The first talk, on faith, is available here.  The second talk, very appropriately in November, the month we honour the faithful departed, was on hope.  It took place at Holy Family.

Enjoy!

Why do we believe in the Trinity?

Last updated on February 13, 2014

A reader writes: 

“I was reading a book about Isaac Newton and to my surprise learned that he spent much of his life studying translations of the Bible to prove Unitarianism. In my understanding, he was trying to disprove the Trinity.

In my own experience, I often wonder why we bother to pray to three Gods (which we then call one God). I feel that I can understand having an omnipresent God and then a mortal one. But the Holy Spirit somehow seems redundant to one or both of these.

Why do we believe in the Trinity?”

The Trinity is not something we could have come up with on our own.  It is not the result of careful thought and reflection by theologians.  Rather, it is rooted in the historical experience of Christian community.  A group of (monontheistic!) Jews experienced, in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and in the sending of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the saving work of Yahweh.  We believe in the Trinity first and foremost because...

Read More

OK, Salon didn't actually write me here at sASK-aTheologian with their question.  But they probably should have.  Or maybe the could have simply consulted the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  Or Wikipedia.

You see, in a recent article, Salon asks "About that "immaculate conception": could a virgin birth ever really happen?"

The problem is that the immaculate conception is the dogma that teaches that Mary was conceived without original sin.  The doctrine of the virgin birth, that Jesus (not Mary!) was conceived without a natural human father, i.e., without sexual intercourse, is a separate matter.

The article, however, is not really about either of these teachings of the Church.  It is merely a catchy, if uninformed, way to introduce a piece on the possibility of parthenogenesis, the possibility of reproduction by cloning.  Many species reproduce by cloning themselves.  Indeed all species did so before the evolution of sexual reproduction, a major step in...

Read More

On Friday Oct. 25, 2013, I was invited by the Conquest Boys Club to address their annual Faith of Our Fathers Men's Banquet on the question of the permanent diaconate.  This event is an opportunity for men and their sons to come together to celebrate their vocations as husbands, fathers, brothers and sons, while also honouring our spiritual fathers in the priesthood and encourgaing young men to actively discern their own vocations.  As such, it was the perfect place to talk about the vocation to the diaconate, a little known, but essential vocation in the life of the Church.  Here is what I had to say:

I want to thank you for your invitation to talk about the important, but relatively unknown vocation of the diaconate.  Some of us here may be called to this vocation, but most probably are not.  Nevertheless, it is a vocation in the Church, like priesthood or marriage, and all Catholics should know something about it.

Now, I’m a theologian, and one of my areas of...

Read More

Faith

Last updated on October 30, 2013

On Sunday Oct. 20, 2013, I was honoured to be invited to present on the theological virtue of faith to SOURCE - Regina youth and young adult ministry.  SOURCE is a joint ministry of three Regina parishes (Resurrection, Christ the King, and Holy Family) and the Archdiocesan Youth Office.  It is a great night of food, worship, reconciliation, fellowship, and formation.  I will be presenting on the virtue of hope on November 17 at Holy Family and love on December 15 at Resurrection to complete the trilogy.  Things get under way at 6:00 pm.  It'd be great to see you there.

Here's a video of my first talk.  You can see my two boys (6 and 5) in rapt attention, while my little girl (19 months) occasionally registers her agreement or disagreement with Dad throughout.

Enjoy!

...

Read More

How Much Does God Determine?

Last updated on October 23, 2013

Ashley Hoffart asks:

Dear friendly theologian! Do you care to comment on this quote when you have a moment? A friend of mine posted it [on Facebook], and it bothers me somehow... but I'm having a hard time articulating my thoughts... I'd love some input.

Charles Spurgeon: “I believe that every particle of dust that dances in the sunbeam does not move an atom more or less than God wishes — that every particle of spray that dashes against the steamboat has its orbit, as well as the sun in the heavens — that the chaff from the hand of the winnower is steered as the stars in their courses. The creeping of an aphid over the rosebud is as much fixed as the march of the devastating pestilence — the fall of...leaves from a poplar is as fully ordained as the tumbling of an avalanche.”

Don't we live in a fallen world? Don't human beings have free will that tends to mess with other creatures and with the elements, etc? Yes, the Lord wrote the natural laws... but...

... Read More

Pages