Defining Clericalism


Recently a friend sent me the following quote from Fr. John Celichowski below. I was hoping to hear from you as well. Does his definition agree with your experiences of the clergy?    Would you add or detract from it in any way? Love to hear from you. Your views can make a difference.
 
“Fr. John Celichowski of Detroit, provincial minister of the Capuchin Province of St. Joseph, also raised the matter of clericalism.  He described clericalism as a “form of elitism” that is “reinforced by the distinctive education and formation, dress and titles that priests and religious receive.”  Elitism he said, “can lead to a distorted sense of entitlement, the assumption that one is not bound by the rules that govern everyone else, and that other people (even the vulnerable) exist to serve one’s own needs.”  It is only through examination of this fundamental issue and the abuse of power it generates, he said, that we can make sense of the crisis.  he called for  “strong and committed laity to push back” against clericalism and to demand accountability.”
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4 Responses to Defining Clericalism

  1. survivor's wife says:

    I think the laity have been indoctrinated to believe they are of the “elite” as well.

    I don’t think it’s all about clericalism. It’s a large piece of the puzzle, but the laity have contributed (and I don’t only mean financially) to it.

    The clergy have convinced the laity they (the hierarchy) are special…afterall, they are the ONLY ones who can… fill in the blank. This trickles to the laity being convinced they are the ONLY ones who can…well, fill in the blank. “We are special, we are chosen…and here’s the evidence.” I’m reminded of priests of my youth during their homilies pointing out the flaws of other Christian denominations.

    It reminds me of children who have been spoiled rotten and been told they are special…the “daddy’s little girl” syndrome…they grow up having a sense of entitlement…”I shouldn’t fail this class, be denied that job, rules don’t really apply to me, …because I’m ‘special’, …I’ve always told this and here’s the evidence.”

    The clergy sex abuse scandal is showcasing just how “special” the hierarchy thinks of themselves…”what do you mean the laws apply to me?” Clericalism…sure. But it isn’t just the hierarchy.

  2. Paul in Delaware says:

    Absolute power corrupts…

    We have allowed the opinion of priests to exceed their boundaries…

    They violated the trust we gave them.
    And Bishops, are worse.

  3. anne southwood says:

    Eugene Kennedy (in his 6/30 National Catholic Reporter column):
    “These clergymen look up to their superiors and down on their people whom they judge to be in need of rehabilitation or conversion. They want to de-program their people of their memories of Vatican II ….”

    Though I think these are 2 different issues, they both do speak to the definition of clericalism. They both stem from a Father knows best attitude devoid of actual meaningful parishioner conversation.

    In the first instance, the flock may indeed need better guidance in the spiritual life but does the articulation of this fact automatically place blame at the feet of his people? I believe the reverse is true.

    In the second instance, it has been my experience that the philosophy and theology in Vatican 11 documents has not been taught.at all. Deprograming people with no education and no memory of VAT 11 really means generating joint Church action by reasserting the special nature of a cleric over against that of lay people – rather than treating the generative theology of VAT 11 documents, clearly voted by a majority of existing bishops and approved by the Pope, with respect.

  4. Speaking-Up says:

    The above-mentioned excerpt by Fr. John Celichowski of Detroit….
    He described clericalism as a “form of elitism” that is “reinforced by the distinctive education and formation, dress and titles that priests and religious receive.” “Elitism” he said, “can lead to a distorted sense of entitlement, the assumption that one is not bound by the rules that govern everyone else, and that other people (even the vulnerable) exist to serve one’s own needs.” It is only through examination of this fundamental issue and the abuse of power it generates, he said, that we can make sense of the crisis. He called for “strong and committed laity to push back” against clericalism and to demand accountability.”

    The Elitist Roman Empire became the Holy Roman Empire but the military tactics remained the same. I will liken the Roman ‘testudo formation’ (the tortoise) to the Clericalism / Elitism of the Roman Catholic Church.

    The hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church have been using the ‘testudo-style formation’ which make them virtually invulnerable to attack, while they hide behind their shields of secrecy, silence, hypocrasy, cruelty and abuse of power.

    The tortoise was one of the prime examples of Roman ingenuity at warfare. When deployed in such a way, the legionaries became virtually invulnerable to arrows or objects dropped from defensive walls. The tortoise was an essentially defensive formation by which the legionaries would hold their shields overhead, except for the front rows, thereby creating a kind of shell-like armour shielding them against missiles from the front or above.
    Extract from: http://www.roman-empire.net/army

    In the testudo formation, the men would deploy very densely and position their shields at the sides (rather than by the grip behind the umbo). The first row of men, possibly excluding the men on the flanks, would hold their shields from about the height of their shins to their eyes, so as to cover the formation’s front. The shields would be held in such a way that they presented a shieldwall to all sides. The men in the back ranks would place their shields over their heads to protect the formation from above, balancing the shields on their helmets, overlapping them. If necessary, the legionaries on the sides and rear of the formation could stand sideways or backwards with shields held as the front rows, so as to protect the formation’s sides and rear. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Testudo_formation

    Does any of this sound familiar? Did the Roman Empire really collapse or did it just switch names? Photos of Roman military strategies can be obtained over the Internet.

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