Keep the Faith, Change the Church.

Clericalism: Reality and Concerns

Note: VOTF presented a colloquium on Clericalism at the 2016 Conference of the Associations of U.S. Catholic Priests. You can review the outline and handout here.

In 2011 Voice of the Faithful criticized the John Jay Institute's "Study of the Causes and Context of the Sexual Abuse Crisis" for describing clericalism but not naming it, much less citing it, as a principal cause for clergy sex abuse and the subsequent cover-ups. "Clericalism," our report noted, "is an overriding set of beliefs and behaviors in which the clergy view themselves as different, separate, and exempt from the norms, rules and consequences that apply to everyone else in society."

Pope Francis has made clericalism a major target of the reforms he seeks, beginning with some of his earliest actions and continuing today. So too, Voice of the Faithful will continue to challenge clericalism as an impediment to the healing and reform essential to the Catholic Church today.

We urge you to read and reflect on these documents and to find ways to add your voice to those of many others who are calling for reform in the Catholic Church, especially for reform of the clericalism that affects many in the clergy and hierarchy.

Clerical Culture Among Diocesan Clergy in the U.S.

This introduction to clericalism draws from two recent books on clericalism written by priests from the United States: Clericalism: The Death of Priesthood by Fr. George B. Wilson, S.J.; and Clerical Culture: Contradiction and Transformation by Fr. Michael L. Papesh. We encourage you to purchase these books, and especially recommend the one by Fr. Papesh, a pastoral diocesan priest who lives within the clerical culture but is aware of the contradictions between the culture and service to the gospels and to the mission of the Church to which priests are called.

We suggest using at least one of the books along with the document below to inform yourself about the elements that go into the development of clerical culture. You also could consider forming a study group in your affiliate or parish to discuss ways this culture affects the servant leadership that we all expect of the clergy and hierarchy.

Clerical Culture Among Roman Catholic Diocesan Clergy -- overview of VOTF analysis, with bibliography

Outline and handout from AUSCP Colloquium on Clericalism

Celibacy: Key Element of Clericalism

A Brief History of Celibacy -- a condensed summary, with bibliography

Mandatory Celibacy: Time to Discuss Its Flaws -- an essay by Edward J. Greenan 

Additional information is available through VOTF's Conversations About Celibacy effort and our petition to ordain married Catholic men as priests.

Request for Pastoral Provision Sent to USCCB

In recent years, Voice of the Faithful has delivered to all U.S. diocesan heads ("ordinaries") a proposal for the ordination of married men in the Catholic Church in the U.S. This proposal calls for the use of a new Pastoral Provision, which mirrors the Pastoral Provision created by the bishops for the ordination of Anglican and Episcopalian priests into the Roman Catholic priesthood, to be applied to married Catholic Men.

SEE OUR ACTION PLAN under Conversations on Celibacy.

Please join us in studying the issue of clericalism and praying for the success of the request to the bishops.