Keep the Faith, Change the Church.

2014 Assembly Workshop Summary: Clericalism

Discussion Starter

We are the prime "enablers of clericalism."

Short debate about the indelible mark of baptism and the meaning of ontological: Aristotelian concept of what something "is." For example, a ship made of wood has its planks fully replaced over the years. After many years, although the wood is different, the ship is still a ship.

The effects of baptism makes one "embraceable."

The perception of a dualism: the natural, the supernatural.

Doctrine of character is medieval.

BUT "What has this to do with Brooklyn???"

Priests are taught, and believe, that they are different. They are "ontologically" superior to other beings.


A reporter from WESU-FM (NPR station) in Middletown CT sat in on one of the Clericalism sessions and posted the recording. You can hear it on their web site:

Are Clergy Nearer to God than Thee? Voice of the Faithful Takes on Clericalism
Reasonably Catholic, WESU-FM, Apr. 29, 2014

What CAN We Do?

An attendee told s story of a woman growing up with priests and religious in the family: They were treated with respect but not with a sense that they were so different as to lord it over others. But then she had an experience with a pastor who, when questioned, said, "I am your shepherd and you must follow me."

A number of priests spoke up, supporting the notion that we need to keep sharing the love and warmth of Jesus. And also recognize the importance of laity being integrated into service.

A LaSalette priest spoke of the dangers of clericalism ... and the emptiness of priests who just go through the motions but whose hearts are untouched.

A Redemptorist priest reminded us that clericalism exists in all denominations: marriage and female priests won't guarantee that clericalism ceases to exist!

The lay/cleric distinction is Christian dichotomy...

Fear is an element of clericalism: those priests who dare to speak out are not rewarded, and in many ways punished.

Lay people don't always treat clerics honestly--and can be over-respectful.

We must be adult in our relationships (clergy/laity) and live our baptismal rights (as prophets, priests--in the universal priesthood--and leaders).