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  • Writer's pictureImmersed in Christ

The Church is: The Joy of Anti-Clericalism

by Fr. David M. Knight


May 30, 2024

Thursday of the Eighth Week of Ordinary Time

Lectionary 350

1 Pt 2:2-5, 9-12/Mk 10:46-52

 

Pay attention to the spelling. We are not talking about anticlerical-ism, but anti-clericalism. We are not against clerics, the clergy, but against “clericalism,” the false and corrupting mentality that puts some members of the Church on a pedestal, just because they are ordained. Pope Francis said, “I tell priests to flee from clericalism because clericalism distances people… It’s a plague in the Church.” (Airplane interview, May 13, 2017).


Lord Acton, famous for writing Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887: “All power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” ended his letter anathematizing clericalism: “There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it.”


In 2016, Pope Francis wrote to Cardinal Marc Ouellet:


One of the greatest distortions Latin America has to confront—to which I ask you to devote special attention —is clericalism. This not only nullifies the character of Christians, but also tends to diminish and undervalue the baptismal grace that the Holy Spirit has placed in the heart of our people.


If we see the clergy as higher than they are, we inevitably see the laity as lower than they are. If we call bishops “Most Reverend,” most to be respected, monsignors “Very Reverend,” less to be respected, and priests just “Reverend,” the lowest level of respect, we are saying the laity deserve no reverence at all! Quibble if you wish, but this is exactly the attitude many priests take toward the rank and file of their parishes. Witness Francis:


Today more than sixty percent of parishes do not have a finance or a pastoral council. What does this mean? It means that the parish or diocese is led with a clerical spirit, by the priest alone, and that it does not implement synodality... This is the danger of clericalism in the Church today. We must go ahead and remove this danger, because the priest is a servant of the community, the bishop is a servant of the community, but he is not the head of a firm. No! (To General Superiors of nuns, 06/12/16).


ACTION: See priests as willing servants—like yourself.


PRAYER: “Lord, make us all servants of the servants of God.”


Reflections brought to you by the Immersed in Christ Ministry




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