23 August 2018

Clericalism, the root of all evils ... or ... not? UPDATED

UPDATE Dr Philip Egan, Bishop of Portsmouth, has called for an Extraordinary Synod to discuss the current crisis.

My first reaction is a feeling that this is a very interesting idea, which we could agree to support.

 PF has written a letter to us all  in which he blames the Clerical Sexual Abuse crisis on "Clericalism".

This is quite a different analysis from that of Benedict XVI, a rather more acute judge: he believed it was the 1960s atmosphere of ethical Relativism and of freedom from  moral constraints and rules, that led to a collapse of sexual morality in clerical (and other) circles.

You pays your money and you picks your pontiff. Personally, I buy Benedict.

There is a paradox in PF's words. The most obvious segment of the Christian community in which Clericalism, in my quite considerable experience, is totally absent, is in Traddy circles.

Traddidom, nationally and internationally, is organised, run, and managed by laity. The clergy who serve it, among whom I am proud to include myself, run nothing, dominate nobody, and follow lay initiatives. We are asked to do things, and we ... er ... assent; I nearly said, we obey.

This is fundamentally like the structures of Medieval Catholicism, in which the powerful elements in local communities were the lay guilds. Their cultic activities did, of course, involve clergy, and they hired and paid their clergy to do what they needed done. Just as they hired and paid their robemakers to make their robes and their kitchen boys to roast their beef.


But it is more important for us to face today's disgusting realities than to discuss the Middle Ages.

Someone called Wuerl has denied that the McCarrick business is a crisis. That crass observation just about says it all. (OK, now that he's become a liability, Wuerl's resignation will probably be accepted; but how many more decades will Cupich be around promoting Bergoglianism? For how many years was Daneels riding high, papally nominated to Synods on the Family?)

PF's cronies appear to be defensively circling their wagons round his latest and most absurd mantra: his expressed view that Clerical Sexual Abuse is the result of Clericalism! But the main Clericalism I detect in this whole sorry affair is the Clericalism of Establishment cover-ups. Who knew what McCarrick was up to, and did nothing? Who, in England, knew of Kieran Conry's womanising, and just kept their fingers crossed? And perhaps we should look over the fence into the Church of England and contemplate the abusive life of sanctified sadism led for decades by Bishop Peter Ball. For this blasphemous libertine, "being strong for Jesus" meant "letting me flog you".  But, even more disgraceful than the abuse itself were the strenuous attempts made by many within the Establishment, from Prince Charles downwards, to manoeuvre Ball back into public ministry (especially in schools!!) even after his cover was comprehensively blown in 1992, and one of his victims had committed suicide.

Deference towards the mighty, the Great and the Good, not "Clericalism" among the lower clergy, is  the root problem.

You know what they're going to do now, don't you? Under the skilled and careful guidance of the Enemy himself, they're going to use this scandal, this crisis, as an excuse to try to root out of the presbyterate any surviving relics of a sense of true Priesthood (aka 'Clericalism'). Those corrupt structures of deference towards prelates which have landed us all where we are today will be viciously reinforced, and those who suffer, as well as abused victims, will be Catholic laity and Catholic clergy.

I expect to see a new onslaught* on the training of seminarians and junior clergy, in which anybody possessing a Breviarium Romanum or a cassock will risk getting the boot. And, as soon as Joseph Ratzinger is dead, the Gestapo will be let loose on Summorum pontificum.

These people are running scared and that means they will be very dangerous.


*Actually, what I foretell started last year. Between 17 July and 2 August 2017, I published a number of blogposts about a leaked draft Instruction ordering that priest students in the Roman colleges be forced to concelebrate with their teachers rather than saying a private Mass (which might, of course, be a Traditional Mass). I have no idea whether that iniquitous draft, contradicting the canonical rights given by Vatican II and Summorum pontificum to every Latin presbyter, was put into effect.


The Moderate Jacobite said...

The problem is that 'clericalism' is one of those pretty meaningless words. To criticise something as clericalism or somebody as clericalist is merely to say "I'm on the progressive wing of the Church and dislike/disapprove of that." It's rather like when left-wing politicians call somebody fascist for advocating a position with which they disagree.

The problem is that this serves to distract from the real and pervasive clericalism. It seems to me that a not bad definition of clericalism would make reference to a narcissistic focus on the person of the cleric (rather than the office which he holds). It could be manifested in ways such as letting him choose which particular Eucharistic Prayer (out of a selection of 10 printed in the Missal); having him face the people for the entire Mass so that they’re focusing on him rather than the mystery being celebrated; or having him improvise bits rather than praying the printed words.

scotchlil said...

I think it's been pointed out elsewhere that the work initiated by Pope Benedict to deal with the issue of clerical abuse has not been continued or built on during the current pontificate. The 'Letter to the People of God' doesn't seem to me to be backed up by any real attempt to implement any practical, systematic measures to remove or discipline abusers. The suggestion in some American Dioceses that clergy should make no public comment is sadly redolent of the C of E's repeated failure to accept and deal with the reports of Ball's activities. (In fact the Church commissioned some individuals to dig up as much dirt as they could about whistle-blowers.) What on earth has happened to the moral sense of Christians? If there is a root to all of this evil it seems to me to lie in an abandonment of any sense that absolute right and wrong exist, and that we are obliged to live by the commandments. It is very easy to become disenchanted and despairing at the moral and spiritual chaos the Church seems to have fallen into...

William Tighe said...

On "someone named Wuerl:"


Et Expecto said...

I prefer to use the word cronyism, rather than clericalism. In England and Wales, we had the magic circle. That is, for a long period of years, bishops were succeeding in getting their friends appointed as bishops, almost regardless of merit. Fortunately, this practice began to break down during the reign of Benedict XVI most probably due the the appointment of Archbishop Menini as Apostolic Delegate: and we now have several bishops who are outside the magic circle.

Regrettably, in the current papacy cronyism may be creeping back. It is no coincidence that Menini was replaced as Nuncio following the appointment of one Vincent Nichols to the Congregation for Bishops. My fear is that the magic circle will be revived, although there is little evidence of this having happened yet.

On a more optimistic front, the last remnants of the old magic circle are due to retire over the next couple of years, so there could be brighter times ahead.

pj said...

The problem with the word clericalism is that it seeks to disguise evil as good. We are to love our neighbors, and love those closest to us more than those distant. Priests should love other priests. They should be kinder and more generous to their clerical peers than to strangers.

Whereas the alliance of active homosexuals to protect and advance one another, even in cases of abuse of children or recruitment of teens, is more akin to a conspiracy against the church and the faith.

Dorota Mosiewicz-Patalas said...

A broader context for these current events are preparations for elevation of sodomy as a unique gift to the Church. It was Bergoglio who insisted on including sodomy-affirming paragraphs, rejected by the Bishops, in the final synod on the family document. James Martin, consumed by his love for sodomy, is but one of many apostates, whom Bergoglio showers with praise (hand kissing included).

Why is the man still a priest, almost no one thinks of asking anymore.
Bergoglio's favorites "heal with the mouth", rather than with the Good News. Himself, well, we know for sure that he kisses a random Christ-denier any chance he gets, especially his feet.

There is also all the talk of married priests.

I had a suspicion, when the polish priest and theologian Charamsa paraded his boyfriend in front of the jubilant masses, not long after installment of Bergoglio in the Chair of Peter, that it was all part of a larger plan. It proved a false-start, as the rigid were still too many.

Could it be that we are all being prepared for a small correction of the Catechism one day, soon? The god of surprises might inform us that this day and age anything less than celebration of sodomy is simply... inadmissible.

Charamsa will get his day of triumph. His rainbow wedding will be officiated by Bergoglio himself, and it will be life-streamed and openly celebrated in all the special colorful and jolly clubs in the Vatican. Finally, our priests will be allowed to live authentically, and all our troubles will immediately become a thing of the past.

cor ad cor loquitur said...

It is with mental trepidation that I disagree with the always sage Fr. Hunwicke and the thoughtful contributors to comments on this blog regarding clericalism. Moreover, it appals me to have to agree with Pope Francis on that issue, although I am sure he and I mean very different things by "clericalism." Francis is, in my opinion, the ultimate clericalist, as I think the term is traditionally understood: a tyrannical attitude on the part of clerics of various ranks towards the laity, a sense that the Church and even the religion itself belongs to the clergy and the laity is there to pray, pay, and obey. It is a clubish mentality that fosters both the corruption we see so tragically in many clerics today and the inertia largely seen in the Catholic laity, with glorious and numerous exceptions, world-wide of accepting blindly anything that comes from the pulpit or the mouth of the pope (no matter how absurd or heretical or crass) and the wholesale abandonment of tradition by Catholics. It is in the laity the mentality that comes from intellectual laziness and accepts anything that comes from the clergy uncritically. How do we think the Modernist thugs have achieved immense victory in the Church for their evil revolution? Through blind obedience, uninformed obedience, the sort that Francis expects and demands to implement his project. The clerical abuses are a direct rotten fruit of this uncritical and really dumb attitude of expected and received blind obedience. The great and thorny issue is that, without a doubt, we Catholics should and need to obey our pastors when they teach the true Faith. But with so many not doing so it then becomes a difficult, but possible, task of true discernment (not Francis's variety and most emphatically without falling into the Protestant heresy of private judgment) on how to follow the teachings of our Church when taught, in whatever forum, by loyal, orthodox clergy. Our obedience to the clergy can no longer be (and should have never been) blind and unthinking: that is how for the moment Modernism has triumphed. And, of course, the right attitude should not be anti-clericalism either, the hatred and suspicion of anything coming from a cleric; that is the Masonic model. Francis and his henchmen are the ultimate clericalists---that is how he is "the dictator pope" and how the likes of Cardinal Tobin or Wuerl wield their abusive power. If my study of church history is informed, for most of the history of our Church clericalism has not been the major, destructive force it is today. Perhaps the growing clericalism associated with Ultramontanism is what troubled the always-prescient John Henry Newman about the definition of papal infallibility---a doctrine which, properly understood, is true and holy and in which Newman himself believed while considering its formal definition at Vatican I inopportune. I think Newman knew something we would all do well to learn in a hurry.

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

ABS used to assist at The Indult Mass at The Cathedral of The Immaculate Conception in Portland, Maine for many years.

Consider that for just a moment - in order for ABS to assist at the Traditional Roman Rite Mass, rather that to be forced to go to the Lil' Licit Liturgy, ABS had to avail himself of an INDULT; that is, he was considered by his own Church to be a law breaker for desiring the Trad Mass/Real Mass/Mass of all times/Tridentine/Gregorian Rite of Catholic Tradition etc etc.

What had suddenly become. in essence, illegal was the tradition of the very mass ABS's Father went to, and his Father, and his Father, and his Father, and his Father, and his Father, right back to the day when one of our male progenitors was kicked out of County Limerick for being incorrrigble (OK, ABS admits to feeling a certain pride in that) and forced to settle in County Cork.

Well, we Corkies are radicals, far more radical than the liturgical revolutionaries. We Corkies wil have our Mass come Hell or high water and if anyone thinks some Bishop is going to prevent ABS from assisting at the Real Mass....

Well, ABS has for a very long time known he and his ilk are hated by the revolution and you are right Father, once Bishop Emeritus Ratzinger is called to the judgment seat of Christ, S.P. will get an ice pick in the back of its head.

Dad29 said...

The most obvious segment of the Christian community in which Clericalism, in my quite considerable experience, is totally absent, is in Traddy circles.

Maybe on YOUR side of the pond. I have stories...........

Fr. VF said...

We should not let the fact that the Clerical Abuse Crisis is caused by clericalism to obscure the fact that it is also caused by abuse. In addition, it is caused by crisis.

Unknown said...

Clericalism is a smoke screen to hide the real problem which is the toleration and promotion of homosexuality within the Church.

GOR said...

Pope Francis still doesn’t get it – we don’t need more words, pious platitudes and yet another commission. As the Bard put it many years ago: “Words to the heat of deeds too cold breath bring.”

Where are the actions? Where are the firings of bishops and Cardinals who have betrayed the Church and the flock, squandering the contributions of the faithful to cover their own failures? But Pope Francis just keeps the perpetrators close to himself – Wuerl, Tobin, Farrell, Ricca, Maradiaga, Danneels - and how many others?

What was Cdl. Wuerl’s first act after the release of the Pennsylvania Report on abuse? Sorrow and repentance for his failure to protect the flock…? Hardly! It was to engage a law firm to defend himself! Reminiscent of Cdl. Mahony in Los Angeles.

I hold out little hope that this pontificate will fix anything. On the contrary, it exacerbates the problems. As one Catholic pundit put it: “We could use two retired popes.”


Elizabeth said...

A synod is too easily manipulated. We need a Council, with the laity rioting in the streets. Get rid of VII (which didn’t create these hetertics but authorized them and put them in power) and start over again.

Zephyrinus said...

Sleep easy, but do not relax.
in Domino.

Cherub said...

Father, I am sure you are right to prefer Pope Benedict to Pope F when it comes to understanding what are the roots of the sexual scandals in the Church. The whole of Western society has been corrupted by the various forms of the sexual revolution, and the Church is part of that even though the culpability of clerics is greater than the layman. I recall very well soon after I was ordained in 1969 there were people urging me to "free yourself up", hug and kiss everybody, don't worry about silly customs which meant not being alone with women (for example), and thereby you will make yourself 'relevant' to the laity, more approachable, and better liked. Well, we have seen the consequences of that kind of advice. In an Anglican Theological College, we were told by the Warden that homosexual practice was not as bad as adultery because it only involved two people. And this was meant to help form the minds of seminarians. The corruption of the Catholic moral tradition by the proportionalists is still being felt many years aftyer Pope JP2 drove a stake into its heart with Veritatis splendor. I could go on, but far better for me to encourage you, Father, to go on.

Unknown said...

I'm not sure another council is a good idea. Look what happened last time. Would we be able to find 10 just men in Sodom?

cor ad cor loquitur said...

I fear, and have so feared for a long time, that Amateur Brain Surgeon is correct when he states that the moment (probably the day after) Benedict is dead so will Summorum Pontificum and possibly the various canonically regular orders devoted to it. Hence, the urgent need to provide for the future---both immediate and long-term. Thank God we have the Society of St. Pius X, so unjustly maligned by, yes, orthodox clericalists (both lay and clerical) who idiotically place canonical regularity (a healthy and needed expectation in the life of the Church in more normal times when the Body of Christ is not besieged from within by the Modernist cancer) over the "salus animorum" (or the salvation of souls, which is the sole purpose of the Church). Let the SSPX and other orders free from the dictatorship of the Modernist clericalists prosper, I say, and help starving souls reach Heaven with valid sacraments, orthodox teaching, sacral liturgies, sound moral examples, and uncompromising, manly opposition to the ravenous wolves in sheep's clothing---all of whom are, of course, very canonically licit. I also applaud Elizabeth's sentiments above about calling a new Council with "rioting laity in the streets" demanding sanity and orthodoxy in our beloved church. I will buy the airline ticket, even at premium cost, to join the righteous "rioters." I think that Chesterton and Belloc, among other manly and orthodox Catholics of note, would join us in spirit!

Leofric said...

I'm sure the Holy Father will sort everything out in the end. We're far too rigid, as he has so often pointed out, and we need to be more like heretics, schismatics, apostates, and infidels. We should be getting down to boogie, instead of behaving like parrots. This Catholic nonsense has persisted for far too long, protecting us against being surprised.

coradcorloquitur said...


Garden Cat said...

At least let's be more accurate in defining the cause of the crisis. HOMO-CLERICALISM: Homosexuals using their authority to promote like-minded men to positions of power to exert change for the purpose of re-engineering the Church into their own disordered perspective without regard to the consequences to others.

Banshee said...

The only priests I have known to presume on their collars, and to deny legit lay ideas and practices, were all liberal as the day is long. I know bad stuff can happen in trad circles too, but one does not expect it.

coradcorloquitur said...

Garden Cat encapsulates it perfectly. Kudos!

coradcorloquitur said...

Concerning the abrupt abolition of "Summorum Pontificum" restoring the rightful use of the immemorial Mass the moment Pope Benedict passes to eternity, I also fear that the fate of the ordinariates will be similar. I shudder to think of it, but Francis is no fan of the sacral and comely worship we value in the ordinariate parishes or of the orthodox doctrine that naturally goes with such worship. He will, I think, make some vague and incoherent appeal to "unity" to do so and proceed with his usual iron fist.