At one point in his address he said that he would caution the Marianists in the crowd. I don’t think that he was talking about members of the Society of Mary, who are best known around here for running the University of Dayton. He was speaking more generally about those with a devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. After offering this caution, he declined to elaborate. He basically said, “Be careful,” but did not say what the danger might be. He went on to state with what seemed to be some pride that he himself was a “direct dialer.” The message that seemed to come through loud and clear to me at least was this: forget Mary and the saints, just go straight to God.
This doesn’t strike me as being a historically or traditionally Catholic position.
My wife and I are facilitators in the Why Catholic program at our parish. This past fall, we did the first half of the fourth year. Since each year follows one of the four pillars of the Catechism, the fourth year is devoted to prayer. In the fall session, we talked quite a bit about intercessory prayer and prayer to Mary and the saints. The best explanation for prayer to the saints that I found was paragraph 2683 in the Catechism:
The witnesses who have preceded us into the kingdom, especially those whom the Church recognizes as saints, share in the living tradition of prayer by the example of their lives, the transmission of their writings, and their prayer today. They contemplate God, praise him and constantly care for those whom they have left on earth. When they entered into the joy of their Master, they were "put in charge of many things." Their intercession is their most exalted service to God's plan. We can and should ask them to intercede for us and for the whole world.
Note that Holy Mother Church says that we can and should ask the saints for intercession. And, of course, the statements of the Church regarding imitation of and prayer to Mary, who is recognized with numerous solemnities on the Church calendar, is even stronger.
It seems to me that when a speaker is invited to address students in a Catholic religious education program, the speaker should reinforce, or at least not contradict, the teachings of the Catholic Church. Parents send their children to parish-sponsored religious education to learn what the Church teaches. When Church teaching is undermined or alternative theologies presented as equivalent to traditional doctrine, we do a disservice to our children, their parents, and our Lord.