Christian Formation and Clericalism – an unique perspective

My most recent guest postings are from “Speaking up”, see description below. This individual presents a very insightful statement about Christian Formation and its relationship to Clericalism. Can the church ever rid itself of clericalism if the fundamental tenants in the formation of the laity and clergy stay unchanged?  Let me hear from you, both religious and lay?? These are critical questions in the development of our church in the future. Please don’t let these opportunities pass by us. DrNick

Speaking-up” is a pseudonym for an individual who chooses to be known only by this title. This individual is a frequent contributor to this posting site. I have been impressed with the level of intelligence and depth of insight “speaking-up” has brought to the various topics of discussion. As a result, I privately approached this individual -off the record-and asked this person to be a guest blogger. I will only tell you that this person is schooled in philosophy, theology and psychology. Speaking-up addresses the problem of clericalism in both the laity and the clergy and its very destructive effects on the human community. Questions

The Formation:  It would take a change of heart to alter this mind-set. The problem begins at the grass-root level, which is during the Formation, when the “spirit and will” is broken under the guise of religion. Perhaps akin to the breaking-in of a beautiful, wild horse. The majestic splendor of the horse’s spirit changes into a docile, fearful and submissive one.  When this happens to a human being, all kinds of moral weaknesses can develop such as the lack of moral courage, a “disordered” conscience etc.  I guess most seminarians would have committed some “grave sins” during the initiation process into a system plagued with non-accountability and the abuse of power.  A documentation-trail of these character-flaws would ensure a culture of silence… a kind of black-mail. Whistle-blowers (themselves tainted) are fearful of speaking-up.  Franklin’s old dictum would apply, “If they don’t all hang together, then they will surely hang separately.”  Those who are courageous enough to voice their concerns are weeded out during the early years of their Formation, while docility and passivity are encouraged and “tested” during a period of 9 to 13 years, reinforced through living in the spirit of poverty, chastity and obedience. Why does the Formation take so long, when one can earn a Bachelor’s, a Master’s and a PhD in around 8-9 years with the possibility of emotional and spiritual maturity as well?


2 Responses to Christian Formation and Clericalism – an unique perspective

  1. Phrogge says:

    Thinking back to our formation in the seminary, prior to and during Vatican II, I would have to agree. As I recall, the dominant atmosphere was fear. An important theme was separation from what was ‘worldly”. Anything could be used to keep a seminarian from ordination. Spirit and will were in a sense broken. I feel I really began to grow as a person and as a priest in the Army. We all wore the same uniform, lived in the same conditions, had to pull our share of the load. I also began to live and work with other chaplains whose understanding of God and Church was different from mine, and we all worked together to accomplish the mission, and respect and support the soldiers and their families. We respected and worked with each other. Consequently, since I retired I find that I don’t have much in common with the local priests. A number of military priests are having the same experience. Both where I live and the parishes where I help out, my greatest support is from other veterans. Bottom line, I think we priests need the understanding and support of the folks much more than we need judgment. We’re all in this together. Just sayin . . .

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