Clericalism Continues To Thrive In The Church

Clericalism Continues To Thrive In The Church

March 25, 2017
By CHRISTOPHER MANION

Pope Francis has condemned clericalism repeatedly, insisting that it goes hand in hand with corruption. Russell Shaw, an expert on the subject, writes that the “illness” of clericalism has been with us for so long “that most of us take it for granted. In fact, we’re clericalists ourselves.”
Just what is this thing called “clericalism,” anyway? In one sense, it’s reminiscent of Justice Potter Stewart’s observation about hard-core pornography: “Perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly [defining it],” he wrote, “but I know it when I see it” (Jacobellis v. Ohio, 1964).
In that spirit, Pope Francis has seen “clericalism” in the corruption endemic to his native Latin America, as well as in the “rigorism” of his critics who are (to say the least) uncomfortable with his theological ambivalence.
Well, for Pope Francis, the term might just refer to people he doesn’t like; but historically, “clericalism” refers to misperceptions regarding the clerical state, and, as a result, confusion regarding both the clerical and the lay calling.
Clericalism is a “caricature,” Shaw continues. “It fosters an ecclesiastical caste system in which clerics comprise the dominant elite, with lay people serving as a passive, inert mass of spear-carriers tasked with receiving clerical tutelage and doing what they’re told.”
Shaw’s perceptive insight goes a long way to explain the situation in the American Church today, because clericalism spawns two popular myths: first, that the only way to have a truly religious calling is to work in an official capacity in the institutional Church; and second, that the opinions of clerics are superior to those of the laity, not only on matters of faith and morals, but on prudential questions regarding social and political issues as well.
According to Lumen Gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, such questions belong in the realm of the laity. However, instead of encouraging the laity in our efforts to meet that challenge, today’s bishops are eagerly encouraging us to fill positions in the institutional Church.
Kevin Cardinal Farrell, who heads the Vatican’s new Dicastery for Family, Laity and Life, tells bishops visiting Rome “that they need to get lay people into the Church . . . holding jobs in the Church. For instance, I mean running the educational system, or the financial system . . . the only thing that’s off the table at this moment is ordaining women to the priesthood! Everything else is open.”
And he assures his interviewer that “Pope Francis told me expressly he would like to see more lay people over here.”
As bishop of Dallas, Farrell derided the “cowboy mentality” of his flock, and hinted that many of them weren’t very smart, either. Now, as the Vatican’s point man on the laity, he wants them to work for the Vatican — ironically, where they will always be under the supervision of a cleric!
So we have two “caricatures” of clericalism, both of which command the “inert mass” of the laity to lay down “passively” and let the clericalists speak for all Catholics, even on the wide range of issues which the Church’s own law accords to the laity (Lumen Gentium, nn. 30 ff; Code of Canon Law, n. 212).
The post-Vatican II era was supposed to be “the Age of the Laity,” but when it comes to America’s bishops, Shaw’s words have fallen on deaf ears. At best, we can surmise that episcopal sentiment has triumphed over common sense.
Consider Atlanta Archbishop Wilton Gregory, who in 2008 hailed Obama’s victory as “a great step forward for humanity and a sign that in the United States the problem of racial discrimination has been overcome.” This optimism provided a springboard for the bishops’ support of Obama’s welfare-state agenda for the next eight years, even while millions of real Catholics were being persecuted by his radical regime.
Obama repeatedly betrayed the bishops’ trust, yet they soldiered on: USCCB President Timothy Cardinal Dolan pleaded on national television in 2013 (Meet the Press, December 1, 2013) that they wanted to be Obama’s cheerleaders on comprehensive health care reform, but couldn’t be if that included morally objectionable components. This was even as Obama was launching attack after attack on the Church, on the family, on life, education, health care, and virtually every aspect of American society.
Cardinal Dolan’s candor was refreshing. He admitted that the bishops had lost credibility due to their cover-ups of clerical homosexual abuse that spanned several decades. He also frankly admitted that this weakness contributed to the years of silence on the part of the bishops regarding the unpopular moral teachings of the Church, especially Humanae Vitae (Wall Street Journal, March 31, 2012).
Into this vacuum of authority strolled Sr. Simone Campbell, SSS, who became popular with the mainstream media with her “Nuns on the Bus” road show in 2012. Since they were not involved in the scandals, America’s women religious have escaped, for the most part, the sustained criticism aimed at the bishops. However, instead of using the opportunity to teach the truths of the faith with renewed clarity, today’s dissident activists among women religious have instead drawn down the reservoir of goodwill that the nation once felt for the devoted sisters of an age long gone, using it instead to advance their radical political agenda.
As a result, Sr. Simone squandered a golden opportunity, and embraced Obama’s agenda even more brazenly than the bishops did.
Here we see clericalism’s core contradiction: Sr, Simone’s is just another leftist wrapped in the slippery Marxist dialectic.
Consider: It is Simone’s fellow feminist dissenters in religious garb who have criticized, so long and so hard, those “Old Men In Rome” whose “patriarchy” is so pathetic, so anachronistic, so unjust — you get the picture. In that, they were supposedly condemning clericalism.
And yet — now she’s just one of those “Old Women On The Bus.”
Yes, the busybody nun is easily seduced by the temptation to indulge in the same tired clericalism of those heirarchs whom her sisterhood reviles: hypocrisy enthroned, she wraps herself in the hijacked trappings of Catholic authority, throwing Catholic moral teaching under the bus as she spouts pro-LGBT, pro-women’s “ordination” blather and wows the gaggle of vulgar viragos marching on Washington, blasphemously conferring upon their salacity a bawdy blessing, assuring them with a wink that their hateful poison has infected Catholic institutions too.
No wonder they cheered.
In a recent interview with the Jesuit America magazine, Sr. Simone doesn’t even bother to mention Jesus. Her mission is all about neighborhood organizing, supporting the Obama agenda, and branding it with a purloined “Catholic” label.
In her latest political foray, she insists that Congress preserve Obamacare’s destructive agenda, labeling her opinions as “Commandments,” just in case the public has forgotten that, after all, she is zealously “religious.”
Meanwhile, the bishops are silent. A word from them and they’d be slapped down with the usual epithets. “Our credibility is shredded,” said the bishops’ leader on Child Protection (USA Today, September 5, 2012).
And here Mr. Shaw is relevant once more: “Finally, unpleasant though it is, it’s necessary to face up to the link between clericalism and the scandal of clergy sex abuse. Clericalism plainly doesn’t cause sex abuse, any more than sex abuse causes clericalism. But the two things fit together hand in glove. Secrecy explains why.”
And one of the best-kept secrets of the entire foul abuse scandals is this: While a relatively small percentage of priests were criminally abusers, a majority of America’s bishops were guilty of covering up for them, in some cases even actively enabling them, all the while keeping their jobs, costing the faithful billions and inflicting a profound moral wound on the Church that will take decades, if not centuries, to heal.
For now, the prospects for that healing are not promising: leading bishops recently announced that their highest foreign policy priority is Global Warming. Domestically, they continue to insist on amnesty for illegal aliens, preserving the worst features of Obamacare, and continuing the influx into the country of unaccompanied minors and Muslim “refugees” — all programs for which the bishops’ welfare agencies have received hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars every year under Obama.
Wherein lies another well-kept secret: In addition to their taxpayer support, the USCCB taxes each diocese — and ultimately the people in the pews of every American parish — through the “diocesan assessment” and the “Cathedraticum,” respectively — without ever consulting the laity on the political and social advocacy that they are paying for. Moreover, federal law forbids the use of taxpayer funding for lobbyists, public relations firms, fundraising experts, and legislative staff. The bill for those expenses is sent to the people in the pews.
As Shaw says, we’re clericalists ourselves — and we are its victims.
What is to be done? It’s up to the laity. The thousands of bureaucrats at the USCCB, Catholic Relief Services, and Catholic Charities, USA, are constantly asking Congress — in the name of the laity — for more federal funding. After all, as their budgets reveal, these entities are little more than federal government subsidiaries with nice Catholic labels. In the pews or in our taxes, the meek, passive laity must pay for it all, period.
Until we don’t.

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9 comments on “Clericalism Continues To Thrive In The Church

  1. With all of the Marxist agitators and progressive modernist heretics impersonating Catholic priests and nuns, has the modernist Spirit of Vatican II really improved the situation for the Catholic Church? We have various writers speculating on the “Benedict Option” as a way to escape the secular culture of death and the dictatorship of relativism, but few want to discuss the anti-Christian occult secret societies who are pushing that agenda of moral relativism, totalitarian secularism, and Malthusian population control. Clerical modernists are even inviting propagandists from the Illuminati and secret societies promoting Malthusian population control to the Vatican but again there is an eerie sense among neo-Catholics that this is all somehow just a coincidence due to the naïve silliness of Bishop Sorondo and Pope Bergoglio or some benevolent ecological concerns about the environment. People need to wake up and smell the gravy: the Illuminati, the globalist cabals, and the anti-Catholic secret societies are manipulating their “useful idiots” and modernist puppets at the Vatican to soften Catholics up for population control just like the Rockefeller Foundation did with Father Hesburgh at Notre Dame in the 1960s. This isn’t accidental or a coincidence. Bergoglio may be charming in his dementia, senility, and clownish Third World modernism, but the effects of these decisions and doctrinal changes are manifestly evil. The secret societies want to use the influence, prestige, and bureaucracy of the Catholic Church to support Malthusian population control and the weird, esoteric, occult agenda of the New World Order and totalitarian globalist socialism. They will destroy Europe, America, and civilization itself with migration and open borders to crash all of these countries in a Cloward-Piven strategy bringing about the necessary chaos, anarchy, and mayhem to bring in their anti-Christian totalitarian agenda.
    Chaput, Wuerl, and Dolan won’t be able to hide behind neo-Catholic modernist jargon from the Spirit of Vatican II when that happens. They should start thinking about what life will be like for Catholics when civilization is overrun by homicidal, anti-Christian barbarians. A pop folksy folk guitar liturgy won’t be of much help then. This is real. It’s happening. Start thinking.

    • We got a clear outing of the occult secret societies in America with the Wikileaks exposé of John Podesta and his brother attending “spirit cooking” rituals with a known Crowleyite divination practitioner. Hence, the Podestas are OTO, the worst of the worst sociopathic manipulators and destroyers. Likewise, we can assume that Hilary is an OTO fellow traveler. We really dodged a bullet there.

      Bergoglio might be OTO. He has their obfuscation and gobbledygook down to a tee. Recall that Wojtyla in the early years in Poland was an actor with a Steinerian theosophical theatre. Crowley and Steiner are two ends of the same bludgeon.

  2. ICXC NIKA.

    I agree that demonic conspiratorial forces are active as rarely before in Church history.

    Nevertheless, what is necessary is Catholic masculinity, top to bottom, in the priesthood.

    The last example we had, with no disrespect to the otherwise orthodox popes who succeed Him, until 1958, was Papa Sarto. He brooked no fool lightly.

    The laity have raised up literally no one in the past century with even a modicum of the courage, foresight and leadership capacities of a Charlemagne, a St. Louis IX or even a St. Joan of Arc.

    All we’ve had are analysts, historians and polemicists. Those have played a role but it is not history-making leadership.

    Founded as a royal household, the Church has not and cannot govern and conquer Her enemies with pages, factotums or serfs.

  3. There is a schizophrenia in Western culture. We don’t even have a public discussion about the anti-Christian secret societies pushing the agenda of the dictatorship or relativism, multiculturalism, and the open borders policies to destroy civilization. They want to destroy the Catholic Church and Western civilization in order to make way for the Reign of the Antichrist, which will be paved by the dystopian agenda of the occult secret societies pushing the New World Order and demographic collapse.. It’s not just coincidence. It’s not just liberal stupidity. It’s not just the deranged liberal guilt of crazy secular humanists, although that has played a big part of it. It is demonic and Luciferian. They have to take out the Catholic Church with heretical progressive modernism and homo priests in order to destroy the Mass and the sacraments which are holding the Antichrist and the power of Satan back from total control. Anyone noticed the increase in diabolical and demonic phenomena? Once they destroy the institutional Church there will be very little in the way of supernatural defense for most people. Satan is not stupid. He knows that importing homicidal anti-Christian barbarians is a very convenient way to attack Christians. The demonic jinn ride on these demon-possessed anti-Christian barbarians, spreading demonic influence throughout the world, along with their mayhem, psychosis, and carnage.

    Bergoglio is a “useful idiot” in this whole process. The Gnosticism of Bergoglian situation ethics and the progressive modernist heresies of the Spirit of Vatican II are hastening the withering away of the Catholic Church. People can remain deluded and think that everything will be OK, that the utopian fantasies of the Enlightenment and secular humanism can be maintained while the demographics of Western nations implode. But the reign of the Antichrist will come with help from the occult, anti-Christian secret societies of the power elite that hardly anyone wants to talk about publicly, even though they hold great sway over big media and government regimes. It’s in prophecy. Modernist clericalism is part of the Great Apostasy preceding this. The loss of orthodox faith among the Catholic hierarchy and throughout the modernist priesthood under the demonic spell of Vatican II. There is really nothing funny about a modernist clown pope inviting Malthusian population control freaks from the anti-Catholic secret societies into the Vatican. It is quite grave. People need to rethink this Vatican II of progressive modernism for the Catholic Church. The Catholic faith is not about economics, progressive politics, or climate change. It’s about spiritual and moral conflict with demons on the supernatural level. Neo-Catholic bishops better rethink this whole modernist Vatican II project fast. Or it will be too late for a lot of people.

  4. Clericalism isn’t really all that difficult to define. I’d say…
    Clericalism is the ignorant attitude that the sacrament of Holy Orders confers more graces upon the recipient than it actually confers.
    Having lived under the same roof with traditionalist priests for over a decade, I can tell you I’ve seen a great deal of this ignorance. Not all priests are infected with it, but many are.
    What graces does Holy Orders actually confer?
    1) The power to confect the sacraments
    2) The power of jurisdiction (potential, and needing to be actualized by ecclesiastical assignment)
    3) Sacramental grace, which is all the actual graces necessary and sufficient to perform one’s duties of state.
    Where many priests go wrong is in regard to that last. They think
    a) That ordination gives them not merely actual grace, but sanctifying grace; that ordination of itself makes them holy. It doesn’t.
    b) That they get more or different actual graces than what they actually get. For example, they may think that the graces they get to perform their duties are most often efficacious, rather than merely sufficient; i.e., that the vaunted “grace of state” is practically a guarantee that they will always do the right thing. We saw this famously in the SSPX’s controversy between their four bishops, in 2012, when Bp. Fellay assumed that his personal prudential opinion about whether to make a deal with Rome was correct, just because he had the “grace of state”, notwithstanding that all three other bishops thought otherwise.
    A priest may also think that he gets actual graces that give him infused knowledge, or other talents that he doesn’t naturally have, or even strictly need, for the execution of his purely priestly duties. For example, a priest may be assigned to be principal of a school, and just because that is now his duty, he may think that he is given along with that duty all the knowledge, talent and skill needed to do that job with perfect adequacy. Wrong. He has exactly all the knowledge, talent and skill after his appointment as he had before it. He has to *work*, through time and experience, to acquire anything he lacks in that regard. The sacramental actual grace he gets is only what is sufficient, only with the priest’s own effort and cooperation, to *acquire* those talents — and that assumes that he even has the natural capacity to acquire them, which some priests don’t. (God does, of course, sometimes, and by way of exception, infuse talents that are beyond the priest’s natural capacity, but that rarely happens, and is by no means to be assumed).

    Some basic knowledge of sacramental theology — plus a rigorous insistence on its *application* — would take care of this problem.
    Common sense wouldn’t hurt either. Haven’t we had enough *evidence* of these facts in daily life? The fact that so many simply ignore the evidence of their own weakness is just another proof of their weakness; that they are not cooperating with the actual graces God gives them.

  5. A couple of things which priestly ordination does NOT confer. It does not confer a magical power to detect weather patterns or to decide whether the laity should have air conditioners. It also does not confer a magical power to decide that paying 40% to 50% of the income of the middle class in socialist income and property taxes is not enough to achieve utopian socialist social justice goals of wealth redistribution. Now, unfortunately, there are quite a few clergy and modernist bishops who imagine that this is precisely what priestly ordination does confer, causing great confusion between articles of faith and debatable matters of prudential judgment. These kinds of megalomaniacal fantasies of totalitarian control also happen to be the kinds of fantasies that appeal to a lot of the neurotic liberal closet cases who imagine that they have priestly vocations in which Catholicism becomes mere secular socialism and multiculturalist social engineering. It’s a serious problem that all priests and bishops should spend some time reflecting on. There is no mandate in the Gospels for raising income taxes beyond their current levels in pie-in-the-sky socialist fantasies.

  6. From Cath Encyc on Ordination:

    “The first effect of the sacrament is an increase of sanctifying grace. With this, there is the sacramental grace which makes the recipient a fit and holy minister in the discharge of his office. As the duties of God’s ministers are manifold and onerous, it is in perfect accord with the rulings of God’s Providence to confer a special grace on His ministers. The dispensation of sacraments requires grace, and the rightful discharge of sacred offices presupposes a special degree of spiritual excellence. The external sacramental sign or the power of the order can be received and may exist without this grace. Grace is required for the worthy, not the valid, exercise of the power, which is immediately and inseparably connected with the priestly character. The principal effect of the sacrament is the character, a spiritual and indelible mark impressed upon the soul, by which the recipient is distinguished from others, designated as a minister of Christ, and deputed and empowered to perform certain offices of Divine worship (Summa III.63.2). The sacramental character of order distinguishes the ordained from the laity. It gives the recipient in the diaconate, e.g., the power to minister officially, in the priesthood, the power to offer the Sacrifice and dispense the sacraments, in the episcopate the power to ordain new priests and to confirm the faithful. The Council of Trent defined the existence of a character (Sess. VII, can. 9). Its existence is shown especially by the fact that ordination like baptism, if ever valid, can never be repeated.”

    • I was wondering if someone was going to catch me out on the sanctifying grace thing!
      Of course, I wasn’t intending to say that *no* sanctifying grace is received in ordination. That’s just part of any sacrament of the living. My intent was to say that Holy Orders does not make one holy, as in a saint. I admit I was not clear on that, and the correction is appreciated.
      I did not speak of the character, because I don’t see that it has much to do with fostering clericalism. On the other hand, I should have mentioned it, simply because it’s important to be as clear as possible regarding doctrine — especially these days.

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