Dr. Michel Therrien, STD About Dr. Michel Therrien, STD

Dr. Michel Therrien, received his STD from University of Fribourg, Switzerland, and his STL from the International Theological Institute in Austria. He is presently a professor of fundamental moral theology at the Augustine Institute in Greenwood, Colorado. He taught at St. Vincent Seminary in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, for seven years, serving as academic dean from 2008-2012. His prior work experience also includes two years with the Acton Institute in Grand Rapids, Michigan, teaching high school religion, serving as a DRE, a youth minister, and RCIA leader for various parishes. His areas of scholarly interest are Thomistic virtue ethics and Catholic social teaching.


  1. Avatar Jim Anderson says:

    Thank you for a great article. I haven’t had a chance to read Evangelii Gaudium, yet. I am glad I read this first. This would be a good article for Mr. Limbaugh to read.
    God bless!

  2. The Church Dogmatic Teaching Is There Is No Salvation Outside The Roman Catholic Church exCathedra! It’s good to remind our good Holy Father Pope Francis this very crucial point towards Salvation through the Holy Church and not some other New Age means!

    • The church does not teach this, and Pope Francis does not need to be reminded of any such thing. The official teaching on salvation is much more nuanced. Check the catechism, the V2 documents, and your local bishop. An all-just, all-merciful God could not be so exclusionary of His children. I was never taught this anywhere in the church by any clergy or layperson. Ask yourself why you want to believe this. Do you really think you will bring people to a saving knowledge of Jesus by spreading this idea? It sounds judgmental and arrogant, like a noisy gong and a clanging symbol. There are lots of Christians who are not Roman Catholics; they are our brothers and sisters in Christ, heirs to the same promise as we.

      • “”Outside the Church there is no salvation”
        “How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers?Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body:
        “Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.”
        –The Catechism of the Catholic Church 846

        So the Church does indeed teach that “Outside the Church there is no Salvation”
        It goes on to say that “Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience – those too may achieve eternal salvation.”
        However that salvation is achieved through Christ and his Church. Francis himself has said,”It’s an absurd dichotomy to think one can live with Jesus, but without the Church, to follow Jesus outside the Church, to love Jesus and not the Church.”
        I would say that your formation has been lacking if no one has explain this to you
        We cannot save anyone though falsehood. Christ is Truth. God wants to save everyone, he will however, not save someone against their will. Why would someone want to accept God as Father after death if they have spent their life rejecting him? At that juncture should God then, against their will, force them to spend eternity with Him?
        As for people rejecting this teaching:
        “Then many of his disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” “- John 6:60.
        “As a result of this, many [of] his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.”
        John 6:66

  3. Avatar Betsy Hayes says:

    When Barak Obama came on the scene speaking similar words, people thought he could not possibly mean what he was saying, and therefore set about to reinterpret his remarks and their meaning. He meant it all, and more. Now that it is too late, people are waking up. One responsibility of a Pope is to say what he means and mean what he says. And so it goes. Wake up.

  4. Avatar Martin B. Drew says:

    Dr. Therrien thank you for a clear explanation of Pope Francis and his teaching on relationships between persons. I like it.

  5. The pope only speaks with authority when it comes to morals, nothing else. When real popes speak with authority on liberation theology, they spoke truth. AlI I can say, is beware.

  6. I really enjoyed this article. The reality is just this; folks just do not take time to research and reflect on what Pope Francis says or writes.

  7. Avatar Martin B. Drew says:

    This paper from Dr. Therrion is on the right track on Pope Francis who similar TO St. Thomas Aquinas is a conceptual realist.. St. Thomas in his tracts on law and happiness has influenced Pope Francis. When teaching on moral , and on doctrine the pope is infallible that comes with office.. This is not that

  8. Avatar Greg Stone says:

    Excellent teaching article that helps readers reflect on the issues to be considered. Nonetheless, it appears to be an apologetic rewrite of troubling comments in Evangelii Gaudium. One wonders why so many have had to do so much heavy lifting to bring the passages into acceptable focus. An inherent problem with the passages is the manner in which they echo Marxist critiques. At the end of the day one might arrive at the conclusion that something else was meant – as you do – but it begs the question of why the original passages so resembled the language of Marxism. Perhaps the alarm with which some responded was due to the historical attempt of Marxists to co-opt the faith with what appears to be Christian concern with the poor but which was merely rhetorical deception. So I can understand those who were wary. They might ask, with good reason, why was such language used (?) when it would have been easier to simply say, “We oppose greed and corruption that have harmed the marketplace. We oppose those who use deceit to rob man of his free will in economic matters and thus rob him of his dignity. Thus, we call for a renewal of a moral perspective among all who engage in economic exchange, a revival of love for one’s brother and respect for his dignity. And thus, we call for a new era of ethical economic dealings between men.” That could have been said without even a hint of anything resembling Marxist critiques of the free markets. But then, I suppose, there would not have been the opportunity for your astute restatement.

    • Michel Therrien Michel Therrien says:

      I think this is an excellent point. The pope’s words needed clarification because they were not well nuanced, as we have seen in his other remarks. Nonetheless, that doesn’t mean he is a marxist and that’s an important distinction to make. I see nothing but orthodoxy in his teachings–JPII and BXVI were very supportive of his leadership in Buenos Aires, which makes it unlikely that he subscribes to the ideology of liberation theology. However, he does have a pastoral flair about him that is controversial. Certainly, one is free to dislike the style and manner of his communication. The chord he strikes on the economic order is no different than those sounded all the way back to Pope Leo XIII.

  9. Avatar P Thomas McGuire says:

    I join others in thanking you for the article; in light of so much criticism this is helpful. But I must ask what does this all mean to the families of the dead simstresses in Bangladesh who were burned to death producing cheap shirts for U.S. markets? What caused those deaths was more than corrupt officials or bad business decisions, part of the cause is the market system itself. I am a part of the system every time I buy one of the shirts produced by people who risk their lives every day to produce the cheap item I buy. What is my moral responsibility for the workers who produce the cheap shirts I buy? Can we answer this question with our present traditional ethical and moral categories that have little to say about structural sin?

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  11. > We should see in this critique, not an embrace of socialism, or a condemnation of the market
    > economy, but a call to adopt a different ethic for the marketplace. Without a clear moral vision,
    > without a perpetual commitment of all economic players to the good of the human person,
    > without a solidarity obligated by the moral imperative of universal participation, the market will
    > fail the majority, and benefit the few—actually, human sin will lead by necessity to this failure.
    > The market cannot work, as it ought, without virtuous people acting out of a commitment to
    > charity and justice.

    But Dr. Therrien, “the market” does indeed have a clear moral vision and a perpetual commitment of all economic players to the good of the human person. To wit: 1) Autonomy is the Highest Good; 2) Each owns himself absolutely and [corollary] has no natural duty towards another; 3) physical force and fraud are property crimes, and therefore forbidden in any social interaction. That’s what circumscribes behavior in “the market”. At least this is what’s held up as a model or the ideal: listen to the howls when some restriction of autonomy is proposed in order to deal with the inherent instability and inhumanity of “the market”.

    I reject categorically the premise underlying “the market” — autonomy is not the highest good, even here below, and “yourself” is about the last thing on earth you could “own”. But what you keep calling “the market” depends on these premises. In your defense, it is “the market” in the sense that it is the only or at least hegemonic existing market. But it isn’t the only possible market.

    The “ought” of a market is built into its institutions. The existing hegemonic market reduces justice nearly to the vanishing point as a premise, strictly because of a very faulty anthropology and THAT’S why it cannot work given fallen human nature. We can (and indeed have had) markets with institutions markedly different from the ones we have now: the medieval notion of a Just Price has its roots in pagan Rome, for example. Of course any system of institutions can (and will) be gamed — the main trouble with “the market” we have today is one doesn’t have to game it! To deal with this, myriad incongruous “patches” and “regulations” are applied to it — everything from minimum wage laws to anti-trust laws are there to prop up an inherently shaky edifice. It is inherently shaky even on its own terms. But nobody wants to rebuild on a different foundation.

    The Market as we currently experience it isn’t meant to “work” in a human, much less Christian sense. The Popes propose a different “market” — one founded on a correct understanding of the human person. But it seems to me most writers, even Catholic ones, talk about “the market” as if there could be only one and the only problem with it is that we’re all sinners. I don’t think so, but maybe I’m mistaken about this — maybe “the market” is a homonym, homophone, and homograph for this different “the market” the Popes clearly have in mind. That confusion can be cured though. When speaking of something other than the hegemonic Liberal market we currently suffer, maybe try this: instead of saying something like “The market cannot work as it ought without virtuous people acting out of a commitment to charity and justice” try “A market cannot work…” or “No market can work…”. That would be correct and distinguish “the market” from some other market within a political economy whose institutions on different premises; ones that require only ordinary virtue from the mass of ordinary men.


  12. I wonder how much nuance is lost in translating the document? Would a different translator have said things differently? Sometimes the Pope’s words seem confusing but maybe that is because of the different language?


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