Clericalism Update

 Image by Julie Lonnerman

Last week on July 1st I posted this article on Clericalism by Eugene Cullen Kennedy.

At the the time of posting there were few comments attached to his article in the NCR.

Since then people many have responded and as I consider it important in the continuing malaise many feel is hitting the church I am posting the link again so that you can read the comments.

Also don't forget to keep an eye out for the promised second part of the article. If it's anything like the first it should be amazing.

As an addition to this I have added several more articles dealing with clericalism. No doubt more will follow !!

Just a few words :
David Quinn says here:
"Clericalism, properly understood, is not unique to clerics. Other professions, doctors and lawyers for example, also protect one another. This is why there are now lay-people as well as doctors on Medical Councils. 

Clericalism is not confined to the Church. 
'Clericalism' develops in each and every group that brings together like-minded people with broadly similar aims and interests. It is the tendency to put the interests of the 'insiders' before the interests of 'outsiders', to look after one another (up to a point) and to protect one another.
Obviously in any such group - whether they be priests, or doctors, or lawyers, or accountants or journalists - there will be huge professional rivalries and back-biting, but such groups will nonetheless seek to advance their own collective interests and will combine to defeat common enemies."...................

Clericalism is harmful to the Church in multiple ways. Indeed, it is so harmful that learning to identify it, and eradicate it, should be made an integral part of seminary training."

Click here for this one from Richard Mc Brien,Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame chronicles in a subtle way the type of clericalism that has operated 
since he began to write his regular columns which began on July 8, 1966, seven months after the adjournment of the Second Vatican Council.

The second is an edited extract from an article on clericalism which appeared in The Irish newsletter last December. 

I particularly like the last part on the true meaning of hierarchy : so much so I'll quote it for you here before you start :

"Indeed we should remember the true meaning of hierarchy.

It does not mean dominion, even sacred dominion, but rather sacred origin.
It is a new bond of obedience to Christ, one of self-emptying service. 

It is service that authenticates leadership's authority. 

Hierarchy in action should be power in reverse gear."

The author John Morgan is Chairman of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Irish Catholic Church (NBSCCC).

"Two key issues obstruct the new vision needed and hold back the profound renewal we require. They are like two enormous locked doors we must open. 
One is cultural and the second is structural. 

Let me address the cultural issue first. Any crisis in the Church calls for a return to the standards given us by Christ. The particular standard this particular crisis calls for is the rediscovery of our common identity as People of God.  

This is not so much a matter of doing something as acquiring a new set of attitudes. The hierarchy and ordained will be challenged to relate to the lay faithful differently and vice versa. The relationships between them need to change - a change to a tangible shared responsibility for the Mission of the Church. This will take time. 

Above all it will take prayer and hard work. We know that a shared identity binds. It is only a unifying identity and mission that will sustain us. 

Our common identity through baptism and our sharing in a common priesthood will remain just attractive and empty words unless we all work to change deep-seated images and attitudes that perpetuate a first and second class citizenship in the Church. 

Clearly I'm talking about clericalism, about distinctions which turn into superiority - like clergy and laity.

It was a virulent strand of clericalism, manifested in the abuse of power, that primarily led us into this crisis. Its vestiges remain. 

We have all created this culture. We have all played superior - inferior. Together, we have to address what one author calls ''the sinful dynamics'' at work in continuing it.

How? There is no solution outside of us - all of us together - by that I mean no solution outside our availability to change the way we live our lives.

The second issue which blocks the new vision is structural. We must overcome the communications gap between bishops and their people. There are a variety of reasons for the gap.

In some cases there is  a gap between bishops and the ordained priesthood. Trust levels here have taken a battering since the onset of the abuse scandals. These communication gaps can best be addressed by new organisational structures created for spiritual reasons. 
These should create dialogue, foster listening to each other, induce prayer and nourish a shared responsibility for the Mission of the Church.

I would call on every bishop to gather his people, in an annual and broadly-based ecclesial convention of his diocese. It should be held in the Cathedral Church. 

It should fill the Cathedral Church with both lay and ordained delegates from parishes and those involved in all diocesan ministry work.
It should involve the local Church in becoming more and more a living and active community in planning pastoral initiatives from one convention to the next and reviewing the results of initiatives undertaken.

It should help develop in parishes a consciousness of belonging to the People of God. It should encourage and assist parishes to become ''listening centres of the Word''. It must also, critically, address adequate formation in the Faith.

All this will demand a change in mind-set particularly concerning lay people - no longer just collaborators of the clergy but truly recognised and accepting their role as co-responsible for the Church's being and action. 

Indeed we should remember the true meaning of hierarchy.

It does not mean dominion, even sacred dominion, but rather sacred origin. It is a new bond of obedience to Christ, one of self-emptying service. 

It is service that authenticates leadership's authority. 

Hierarchy in action should be power in reverse gear."

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