The New Clericalism

Much has been much in recent times within the Church about the scourge of clericalism. And much of what has been written on that subject is entirely valid and represents something to be expunged from the life of the Church for the sake of the Church moving forward.

Unfortunately, sometimes the charge of ‘clericalism’ is used solely in the context of a certain group of people disagreeing with valid decisions made within the life of the Church, or as a means of negating the validity of particular roles, ministries and offices within the Church based on nothing more than ideology.

When speaking of clericalism within the Church, the article from Massimo Faggioli in La Croix International is well worth reading. Not only does it highlight a phenomenon that exists particularly within the life of the Catholic Church in the United States, but also represents the advent of a form of clericalism that might not immediately be recognised as such by those who are calling for that advent.

Faggioli suggests that the new form of clericalism

… is because the crisis has created a vacuum of authority in the U.S. Church. It is not a vacuum of power, which is still in the usual hands (at least for now), but of authority, which is about trust and credibility.

Nature abhors a vacuum, and this vacuum is being filled by those with an open checkbook and a very clear ideological agenda. Money is talking loud and clear.

Catholics with abundant financial resources and strong connections to the leaders of the U.S. episcopate are trying to fill the vacuum with an agenda that is officially about reform. But, in fact, it is actually corrupting the Church even more, though in a different way.

Clericalism, in many people’s mind, is only something that those who are ordained engage in; Faggioli’s article makes it clear that clericalism is an abuse of power and authority that has nothing to do with whether one is or is not ordained, but rather whether one does or does not wish to exercise power and authority within the Church for the sake of one’s own perceived sense of entitlement and on the basis of whatever one’s particular ecclesiastical ideology is.

Read the article for yourself, and be concerned.