Pope Francis and clericalism


The chief occupational scandal of our time is not the disunity of the Christian church but institutional preoccupation of the church in the face of the suffering of the world.

Anglican Primate George Carey   1992

Pope Francis is beginning to give the JP ll bishops migraines. They don’t know what to make about a pope who actually puts the reign of God first—instead of the church.

On November 29 addressing 120 major superiors  about  would-be priests who merely “grit their teeth, try not to make mistakes, follow the rules smiling a lot, just waiting for the day when they are told `Good, you have finished formation. This is hypocrisy that is the result of clericalism, which is one of the worst evils.

“We must form their hearts,”the pontiff said,” otherwise we are creating little monsters. And then these little monsters mold the people of God. This really gives me goose bumps,”.

Well it’s been giving lay people a royal pain in the culo for decades.

Any Catholic can relate stories of some newly ordained cleric,  a “young fogey” as Andrew Greeley called them, who moves into a parish  and thinks his Roman collar is a sign of omniscience and gives him the right to dynamite a parish organized on the people of God model mandated by Vatican ll.

Andrew Greeley wrote about such types in 2004:

Today’s young priests tend to want to restore the power that the clergy held not only before Vatican II but also before a large educated Catholic laity emerged as a powerful force in the Church after World War II. Older priests today often complain that their younger colleagues are arrogant, pompous, and rigid, and that they love to parade around in clerical dress. The image that comes to mind is young versions of the old ethnic monsignors of the Depression era. 

A friend of mine, a great pastor, laughed when I told him I heard that his parish was getting a steady influx of new parishioners.

He knew exactly what I meant.

The young fogey in the adjoining parish  moved in an brought back the Latin mass, re-clericalized the whole apparatus (altar rails separating the holy from the non-ordained) and acted like a little medieval  pope in his parish.

This also happened to a feisty friend of mine who watched the Polish priest come in and give his marching orders to the lay people.

My friend who had only been in the parish for 60 years basically asked him who the hell he thought he was.

Francis knows— “a little monster.”

Vatican ll’s roots, despite the re-clericalization under JP ll and Benedict are simply too deep. The catholic people are slowly standing on their baptized legs and assuming their full identity. Clericalism is on its last legs.




  1. 1
    Joe Schmidt Says:

    Ted, may 2014 bring you good health, the joy of family and continued fire in the belly for a great cause I hunger for your writings Thank you Joe

  2. 2

    Much of what you say is true, but unfortunately clericalism is NOT on its last legs. I wish it were. That’s your wishful thinking–and mine. It’s going to take more than a Pope in Rome, writing a few lines that most people do not read, including priests. There is also one other problem with your reflection–although I agree with most of it–, and that is you oppose JP II/Benedict with Pope Francis. That’s your inference, and it lacks evidence. In other words, that’s your interpretation. But Pope Francis clearly does not see it that way–if you listen to what he says when he speaks of Pope Benedict, and he is about to canonize JP II. You are creating a false dichotomy.

    Clericalism is a human problem, rooted in a human drive for power. Unions reveal the same tendency. Human beings just can’t handle power. When they get it, they start re-organizing their immediate world around them, according to how they think it ought to be organized. Just look at what has happened to the unions in this country. They use union dues for their own political purposes, whereas the members are not necessarily on the same political page. They have lost their way.

  3. 3

    Sorry to take this back to the discussion on Israeli peace, but allow John Robson to provide you with a much needed education:


  4. 4

    Hmmmm: Not sure why that above link took us to another video. Try this link. This should be John Robson:


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