Hate-filled editorial by The Tablet: Extraordinary Form, clericalism, and child abuse

From The Bitter Pill (aka The Tablet aka RU486).  Make a decision before you read this to remain cool and composed.  I worked on this a few days ago, but set it aside and then turned my own heat down a notch or two.

It will help a great deal if you keep in mind that the writer of this editorial probably just can’t help it.

My emphases and comments.

Dangers of Clericalism
21 May 2011

To be against clericalism is not the same as being anticlerical.  The latter signifies strong secular resistance to the Catholic Church’s social and political power. Clericalism is about an excessive emphasis on the role of the clergy in the Church’s internal affairs. It implies clerical elitism, the superiority of the priesthood over the laity. [Do you accept this definition?] Anticlericalism, as a concept in Continental European politics, is some way past its sell-by date.  But clericalism is very much still in currency as a key concept in analysing the cultural factors that gave rise to the clerical sex-abuse scandal inside the Catholic Church. [I don’t know what fueled the abuse of children among the Irish clergy, who were a large part of the body of priests who served all over England – and in the USA – but with “clericalism” it has to have been also homosexuality.  But The Tablet wants you to think it is the older form of Mass.] It has almost [almost] become de rigueur for church leaders to say they are against clericalism in this context.

Clericalism was dealt a heavy blow by the emphasis in the teaching of Vatican II on the priesthood of all believers and on common baptism. [What The Pill is not acknowledging is that the priesthood of believers and the priesthood of the ordained are qualitatively different.  Cf. Lumen gentium.  But here come some clichés…] But there is evidence of a clericalist backlash among some of those undergoing training for the priesthood or recently ordained. In dress and attitude, some of them appear to hanker – almost [almost – what is it with this writer and “almost”?] narcissistically – after a restoration of the priest’s elevated status that characterised parish life in the 1950s. [A time when people went to confession, married in the Church, schools and hospitals were being opened…  Who would want those days again?] A softer form of clericalism is still apparent in diocesan structures and in the Vatican itself, where few lay people are to be found, and usually in relatively junior positions. [softer… usually… relatively… but! … its “apparent”!] And clericalism automatically marginalises or excludes women.  [Yes.  Indeed it does.]

[Here is a lesson in weasel-like inuendo:]
It is also sometimes implicit [sometimes implicit?] in the motivation [the writer is psychic too… apparently] of those who are pushing for the return of the Tridentine Rite to general use. [E.g.  The Pope.] While the post-Vatican II new-rite Mass emphasises the Eucharist as an activity shared by the whole community, the Mass named after the Council of Trent [They are a bit behind the times.  Few people say “Tridentine Mass” now.  However, perhaps “Tridentine” was purposely chosen to make it sound archaic?  You decide.] puts more weight on the separation of roles, with the priest active and the congregation passively watching. [The clichés just keep coming.]

The Vatican [read=The Enemy  That pesky Vatican!] is continuing to put ammunition in the hands the pro-Tridentine lobby in the Church, [mixing metaphors a bit there… lobby and ammunition… but read on] as in the latest instruction, Universae Ecclesiae, issued by the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei. Does it [The Vatican] not realise how much this will encourage divisive tensions in the Church and a spirit of reactionary rebellion against local episcopal authority, not to mention the revival of a misogynistic and elitist clericalism[Want to meet an “elitist”?  Find a liberal.  Want to find a true “clericalist”?  Find a liberal.  Want to find a true hater of women?  Find a liberal.  Who is more likely to defy bishops?  Traditionalists or liberals?  Who is more likely to create division?  The Tablet or, say, The Catholic Herald?  Who is more likely to support contraception and abortion, which reduce women to sex objects, and homosexual “lifestyles”, which arguably are at the root of abuse of adolescent males by priests?  The liberal catholic media or traditionally-minded Catholics?]

The reinstatement of the Tridentine Rite was intended to unify the Church and reconcile those alienated from it; [I warned you about this tactic.  The first stated intention in Universae Ecclesiae for the provisions of Summorum Pontificum was to offer “to all the faithful the Roman Liturgy in the Usus Antiquior, considered as a precious treasure  to be preserved”.  The dissenters of The Pill have focused on the third point.] there is a real danger of it having the opposite effect. If bishops are not alarmed by this, they should be.  [Get that?  The Pill is defending bishops.  I guess the enemy of my Enemy is my friend.  Had the bishops been generous in the application of Ecclesia Dei adflicta, it is probable that Pope Benedict would not have issued Summorum Pontificum. I wonder what The Pill will say about bishops when they begin to acquiesce to the provisions of Summorum PontificumThe Pill is only with the bishops when the bishops are with The Pill’s agenda.]

Meanwhile, the latest instruction from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) regarding the handling of ­clerical abuse allegations moves in the opposite direction. [Watch them turn on the bishops now in favor of, wait for it, The Vatican… a Vatican which does something that The Pill wants.] It recognises that while bishops cannot shirk their responsibilities, they cannot be a law unto themselves in such matters. National episcopal conferences are being required to draw up guidelines and submit them to the Vatican. The importance of cooperation with secular authorities such as the police is emphasised, though curiously the CDF only stresses the duty to report all cases where that is already required by law. It needs to be more general than that: [?] in many countries there is no obligation to report a crime. [I can see some Chinese bishop in communion with Rome calling the Chinese Communist authorities because one of his priests was accused of something.  Shame on The Vatican!  The Vatican should impose global guidelines!  No… wait… that’s what The Vatican did with Universae Ecclesiae.  QUAERITUR: Does The Pill want centralized control or not?  Only when it suits their ideology.] That apart, the instruction moves the Church into the real world, with best practice (as in England and Wales, perhaps) being made the common standard. As a result, the Church will be that much less clerical – and safer[If the CDF got it right with the guidelines about clerical sexual abuse, then maybe the PCED, under the CDF, got it right with Universae Ecclesiae.]

It is the role of The Vatican to offer global guidelines for policies that please The Pill.

So, boys and girls, we have learned today that the old Mass is very very bad because it is clericalist.  But the Novus Ordo is very very good because it isn’t.  Never mind that the Novus Ordo forces a priest towards a manner of celebrating focused on himself in a way unthinkable in the ars celebrandi of the older form of Holy Mass.

The Pill tries to create a moral equivalence between those who want the older form of the Roman Rite and clerical sexual abusers.

The Pill thinks that clericalism produced clerical sexual abuse of children.  The CDF issued something good but not perfect about this obvious scourge.  The Pill suggests that people who want the older forms of worship are narcissists reviving the obvious scourge of clericalism.  Child abusers are, by the way, in the liberal mind, don’t abuse because they are homosexuals.  Abusers abuse because of clericalism.   That’s the connection they are trying to drive you to make.  According to The Pill, The Vatican reined in those dealing with clerical sexual abuse (bishops, bishops conferences).  The Vatican ought to have reined in those who want the older worship, which will surely produce clericalist narcissistic child abusers.

Annoy the writers of The Pill just as you annoyed those at Fishwrap.

Do you want to know what true clericalism is?
The worst manifestation of clericalism is when priests “clericalize” the laity.  That is nothing less than a signal that the priest doesn’t think lay people have their own dignity as lay people.  In order to “be something” or “participate”, lay people have to do what priests do.  Priests think they they make lay people a little better, because they have made them more like themselves.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Henry Edwards says:

    To me, the irony in this is that, whereas in the TLM the priest is the servant of the liturgy and its rubrics–which circumscribe him from any injection of his own personality or preferences–in the Novus Ordo (at least at its worse) the people are the slaves or victims of the priest and any personal idiosyncrasies he unilaterally chooses to inflict on them. If this is not clericalism, what would be?

  2. Jayna says:

    While I completely reject the Tablet’s assertion that clericalism caused the sexual abuse crisis, I would also push against your interpretation as having its root cause in homosexuality. Typically, pedophiles care not a whit about the gender of the child, it is that they are pre-adolescent.[What percentage of cases were with male adolescents?] They prey on who they have access to and priests had access to altar boys (particularly given how many incidents occurred before female servers were in wide use). Pedophilia is, largely, a completely different issue from homosexuality, though neither of which belongs in the priesthood. I would venture to say that a pedophile could conceivably be a homosexual, [D’ya think?] but at the same time, their attraction to young boys is based far more on age than gender. I wouldn’t say that’s a liberal interpretation, but rather one based on psychological and sociological data (which, admittedly, only goes so far as to say it is atypical, rather than abnormal or deviant). Still, clericalism is hardly the issue in any case.

  3. leutgeb says:

    I happened to read that editorial on Friday because I was surprised (why I don’t know) to read via SPUC that The Tablet carries advertising for organisations supporting female reproductive rights ( aka abortion) in the developing world.

    Meantime, the TLM grows on apace. On Friday there is a High Mass at Augustine’s Ramsgate, Kent, the first in … a while. I’m singing the propers with someone else and their parish choir are doing all the rest of the music. The next day it’s off to Our Lady of Consolation at West Grinstead for the LMS pilgrimage. The following Thurs is Ascension and a Missa Cantata at OLR and so it goes on. That’s just one tiny snapshot.

    More people in England are learning chant, which means of course that gradually more sung masses are possible. This is all from the grass roots and there’s nothing that The Tablet can do to stop it. Everything is freely available on the internet and there are people out there happy to go places and sing.

    They must be really desparate to write in such a way. Can’t see anyone finding it a very attractive picture of Catholicism.

  4. Fr. Basil says:

    \\ Child abusers are, by the way, in the liberal mind, don’t abuse because they are homosexuals. \\

    You know, I was going to comment on this, but Jayna already beat me to it.

    I’m surprised, Fr. Z, that a man as intelligent and educated as you still tries to conflate homosexuality and pedophilia. [I don’t think I did. As I understand the stats, the majority of cases of abuses were cases of abuse of adolescents, not children. They were not in most cases pedophilia, but same-sex ephebophilia.]

    I will give a sad example from my city. Recently a well-respected pediatrician was charged with molesting over 100 of his female patients.

    If the clerical abuse of boys is homosexuality (which accusation ignores the girls who were abused), then this doctor is a heterosexual.

    Think about it.

  5. JimmyA says:

    The sad and absurd thing is that by editorials such as this (and many, many more) the Tablet sets itself up as being decisively against priests.

    I am sure that my knowledge of the catechism has gaps but even I think I understand the difference between the common priesthood of the laity and the sacramental priesthood. Was this topic not mentioned in Mickens’ or Curti’s catechism classes? I also understand that in order to nurture vocations and to ensure priests are supported in theirs, we need to be celebrating the priesthood, not running it down.

    In the Tablet’s terms any priest who takes his sacramental priesthood seriously (as opposed to focusing exclusively on the social work) is to be viewed immediately as a suspicious narcissist with a supposed predilection to paedophilia. How demoralising for anyone to hear that wrong and spiteful view, particularly anyone reading the Tablet who may have been exploring a vocation.

    This really is the “smoke of Satan” I am afraid.

  6. This is hilarious! The Pill has it completely backwards. It was the introduction of celebration versus populum, the de facto norm in the Novus Ordo, not the TLM, that caused the clericalism that The Pill laments.

    From The Spirit of the Liturgy by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, pp.79-80, emphasis added:

    Admittedly, these connections [dealing with the common orientation of priest and people] were obscured or fell into total oblivion in the church buildings and liturgical practice of the modern age. This is the only explanation for the fact that the common direction of prayer of priest and people was labeled as “celebrating toward the wall” or “turning your back on the people” and came to seem absurd and totally unacceptable. And this alone explains why the meal–even in modern pictures–became the normative idea of liturgical celebration for Christians. In reality what happened was that an unprecedented clericalization came on the scene. Now the priest–the “presider,” as they now prefer to call him–becomes the real point of reference for the whole litrugy. Everything depends on him. We have to see him, to respond to him, to be involved in what he is doing. His creativity sustains the whole thing.

    So if clericalism is the cause of so many bad things, as they clearly state, then by their logic the TLM is not the problem, but the solution!

  7. CantareAmantisEst says:

    How dreadful that this author uses ‘clericalism’ as a guise for attacking the TLM , etc. If it were going to be a commentary on the universal call to holiness, regardless of vocation (priest, religious, lay), I’d have taken his arguments more seriously. On a related note, I do think the TLM in fact encourages the universal call to holiness in a very genuine way, as compared with the Novus Ordo. While others like this author may rant about the distinct ‘separation of roles’ (really, can it be any other way?), the TLM encourages the laity assisting at Mass to offer true spiritual sacrifices, to make an offering of their very selves — their work, their will, their intellect, et al — in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. This is in contrast with the Novus Ordo, where ‘participation’ is conceived of in a very external way.

  8. digdigby says:

    Jayna and Father Basil-
    1. 90% of clerical abuse cases involved adolescent males
    2. Pedophiles are attracted to hairless, pre-pubescents and they usually tend to towards either boys or girls. Another of your false facts is that sex doesn’t matter to them.
    3. To pretend that a sexually functioning male, whose hormones are raging, is NOT an object of intensely homosexual desire is to be far more unworldly than I would expect of even of The Flying Nun. As George Segal says to Richard Burton in ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf’ “Stick to your knitting, grandma.”

  9. Mrs Kate says:

    By all means should Catherine Pepinster, editor of the Bitter Pill, have a rant in private: but to print such a vitriolic attack on the Church and its priests is pretty disgusting.
    These folk need reining in- where is Archbishop Nichols?

  10. shane says:

    It’s a sad day when the Guardian makes more sense than a purportedly Catholic periodical:


  11. Cincinnati Priest says:

    @Jayna and Fr. Basil:

    This is something that has been extensively analyzed earlier, by those without a politcally correct bias.

    See http://www.catholicleague.org/specialreports.php?id=10 among other places. (Bill Donohue, a trained sociologist who is not afraid of being politcally incorrect, also did a nice interview on EWTN’s World Over program, addressing this very question).

    He made the incontrovertible point that the huge majority of the cases of priestly abuse were of teenage men. This is not “pedophilia.” It is homosexuality. As politically incorrect as it it to say this, objective people realize that it is a common pattern for homosexual men to engage in sexual relation with minors (adolescent boys).

    If you go at all beyond the surface, the tired chestnut that it was not homosexuality, but a question of limited “access” to girls, does not wash. I have never seen any empirical evidence to support this claim. If that were the case, when the tremendous social changes happened throughout the 1970s and 1980s, when almost everything was becoming coeducational, and many places had altar girls (in defiance of the Vatican), at that time the number of abuse cases against females would have risen dramatically from the 1960s when things were more segregated by sex. I don’t see any evidence of that in the data. In fact, I have not even seen anything that shows that most abuse victims were in fact altar boys, especially in more recent times. The reports, to my knowledge, don’t show what spheres of life the abuse victims were from.

    If the data showed that most of the victims were not altar boys, that would make the “access” argument even weaker. I grew up in the 1970s and the priests spent no less time with the girls than the boys. Yet during that time, still, the huge majority of victims were teenage boys.

    If I am wrong about any of this, please post. I would love to see empirical data that support claims, rather than pure speculation.

    The problem here is that many people (especially in academia) desperately want the conclusion to be that homosexuality has nothing to do with this, so they are willing to make statements without any supporting data, or even sometimes ignore data to the contrary.

    Are we really looking to get at the truth here, or simply confirm the beliefs we already have?

  12. Random Friar says:

    If the writer met more of the newly and soon-to-be ordained men, he would come to see that they are on fire for the Gospel, promote social justice with a deep understanding of the culture they will be preaching to, and are frankly, too overwhelmed to try to do everything themselves, especially with the numbers of clergy down. I believe “infer” is better than “imply” in this context!

    And I agree with Mr. Edwards. The potential temptation that the Mass becomes about the person of the priest and his celebrational style is there, at least versus populum.

    My feeling is that the folks of the generation that ushered in the over-the-top changes in the Mass and ecclesial modes of governance feel very personally invested. After all, the Church became their life work, implementing what they mistakenly thought would be positive changes. It is difficult to change one’s course or mind after so long a time, and after they see it as their heritage.

    The Church is greater than any one generation, however. I would say that this is what they are lacking in perspective. I’m sure that by thirty to fifty years from now, there may be some additional changes. Hopefully the new crop will be faithful and true when they are dignified by grey hair. Let’s think in centuries, not decades!

  13. Glen M says:

    The further along we go in fixing the damage modernists did to the Church the louder and more desperate their protests will be. They have proven themselves irrelevant and I believe they are finally realizing it. The E.F. is growing in my diocese and our seminarians are models of orthodoxy and fidelity. The producers of the Tablet, NcR, America magazine, etc, will face the Last Four Things (a.k.a The Ultimate Social Justice) like anyone else.

  14. Nathan says:

    Henry Edwards, well said, sir! “…the people are the slaves or victims of the priest and any personal idiosyncrasies he unilaterally chooses to inflict on them. If this is not clericalism, what would be?” That insight was a home run (or, perhaps, bowling a maiden over).

    In Christ,

  15. Speravi says:

    “Do you accept this definition?”
    No. Clericalism is when a cleric begins to attribute to himself the honor which is due to his office (as a representative of Christ and the Church). I received this definition from a professor of mine. “Clericalism” is normally used as an ambiguous buzz word. I have rarely heard it used in a theologically or socially precise manner. It is usually just a grenade dropped into a discussion.

  16. Mark R says:

    Both clericalism — lay and ordained — are bad. This is manifest where the Church loses the people.

  17. Alan Aversa says:

    Re: “Clericalism is about an excessive emphasis on the role of the clergy in the Church’s internal affairs. It implies clerical elitism, the superiority of the priesthood over the laity.

    Besides the words “excessive” and “clerical elitism,” I accept this definition. Did not Jesus Himself emphasize that the Church is built on Peter, the head of the apostles? He did not build it on a democratic collaboration between them and others, did He? Regarding “the superiority of the priesthood over the laity,” does not 1 Corinthians 7 basically say this in exalting celibacy over but not to the denigration of the married state? Oh but St. Paul is a misogynistic elitist, too… right… sure… NOT!

    Speravi‘s definition above is definitely better.

    Can you imagine if this article were published in 1920s Mexico? Wow..

  18. JP Borberg says:

    Every time something liberals don’t like happens in the church they start talking about clerical sex abuse.


    Anyway, linking clerical sex abuse to the TLM? Bollocks, and an insult to the victims, dragging them into this ideological dispute as objects with which to beat the opposition.

    Proposing clericalism causes clerical sex abuse? Maybe. An overinflated opinion of the person who holds an office would certainly facilitate such acts, but to call it as cause is a little tenuous.

    However, I think it could be convincingly argued that an attitude of clericalism contributed greatly to the subsequent cover up.

    Too bad the pill missed only point in which they might have actually added something useful to the discussion.

  19. shane says:

    Spirit of Vatican II (Fr Joseph O’Leary) describes his experiences as a schoolboy with the Christian Brothers in the 50s and early 60s:

    My school, the North Monastery, Cork, was a well-run school, and the Brothers devoted their free time to organizing sports, excursions, pageants, debates, concerts, bands, summer schools in the Irish-speaking area of West Cork, even an ecumenical meeting with a Church of Ireland school. These men led Spartan lives and most of them conveyed a sense of idealism that they passed on to their pupils. This had a very wholesome impact on Irish life.

    As teachers the Brothers had the gift of making us study and actually acquire knowledge — something rare in contemporary education. We spent thousands of hours poring over classical English, Irish and Latin poetry and prose — a privilege more with-it curricula no longer accord — and the amount of maths, math-physics, physics and chemistry absorbed then — and now entirely lost — boggles the mind. It is true that students with learning disabilities or incapacity for Irish were sometimes badly handled. Corporal punishment allowed some loutish teachers to use the stick too freely.

    An interesting letter to the Irish Times, May 25, 2009:

    Madam, – From the age of seven (1930) to 17 (1940) I was a boarder in a Christian Brothers-run Dublin orphanage after the death of my father in 1930. My mother died in 1938, having been left in poor circumstances after the death of my father.

    During the years I was a boarder I was not abused in any way by the Christian Brothers and knew of no abuse of the approximately 100 other boarders.

    I was given free board and lodgings; a good education to Leaving Cert standard. Facilities were made available for all who wished to avail of them to engage in Gaelic football and hurling; handball, outdoor parallel bars; outdoor tennis during summer months; table-tennis for indoor amusement, and every effort was made to occupy us during summer holidays (for those without a home to go to) including occasional day excursions in CIÉ buses to places of interest within reasonable distance of Dublin. As anyone will tell you, looking after 100 lively boys required discipline but, in my experience, any discipline (eg slaps with a leather) was administered without excessive severity. I speak from personal experience.

    The education given so generously was first class and some Brothers gave special classes in their own free time to bright children to help them sit for scholarships.

    When schooldays were over, the Brothers worked might-and-main to secure employment for school leavers. They even provided a hostel in the grounds of the orphanage where low-paid ex-boarders were accommodated until they found their feet.

    I will always be grateful to them for the help they gave me and my brother at an extremely difficult time, and the peace of mind they gave my mother in the last few years of her life. So please don’t tar all these fine men with the same brush. – Yours, etc,

    DONAL KAVANAGH, Dublin 12.

  20. disco says:

    Cincy priest: I also heard the Bill Donoghue interview. He made an excellent point about the homosexual issue being avoided by the academics. They use how inidivuals surveyed self identified to establish the prevalence of homosexuality. Donoghue said if you have sexual contact with someone of the same sex then you are homosexual. Actions speak louder than words.

  21. PostCatholic says:

    Interesting. Even the US bishops in their highly suspect and rather stupid John Jay study have at least repudiated the idea that clergy sex abuse was based on homosexuality. They claim it had something to do with the zeitgeist of the 60’s and 70’s. I think it has more to do with poorly formed personalities, unintegrated sexuality, immaturity, and opportunity.

    I think what is different about the priests of now and the priests of then in terms of sexuality are two things:

    1. Since the 1980’s, priests tend to be ordained later in life than at 26 years old. You normally can’t draw a straight line through minor seminary, college seminary and major seminary the way you once could. Even in those circumstances when you can, men in your church come to clerical life with more personal maturity regarding their sexuality, and certainly with more knowledge and insight.

    2. There is much more screening of candidates for seminary than there once was. In my own case, I was an “affiliate” in my secular college for a year and a half before they shipped me off. I also had a psychological battery prior to admittance. Though now with a lot of psychology study under my belt I wonder what the efficacy of the particular tests I took might have been, at least they would have spotted severely disordered personalities or more severe cases of mental illness.

    In short, you let a lot of guys into the clergy who had never dealt with their sexual impulses in an adult and responsible manner, had a system which allowed them to bypass the situations which are more usual way of coming to sexual maturity with little to substitute for it in lieu, and who were more likely to be mentally ill than they are now. Some of these problems, to me, it seems Roman Catholicism has a handle on now. Some, not so much.

    Homosexuality doesn’t explain your problems, at least not fully, for the simple reason that the data does not support that homosexuals at large are not nearly so likely to abuse children as were the priests of that time. (In fact, the least likely sexual identity to abuse children? Lesbians, by a wide margin.) The most common form of sexual abuse is a male adult abusing a female child to with whom he has an ongoing relationship of access and power. The second most common is a male adult abusing a male child with whom he has an ongoing relationship of access and power.

    I can anecdotally tell you about some pretty immature sexual beings in my seminaries–peeping toms, frequent masturbators, crank callers, guys who could simply not carry on a conversation with someone attractive. This was the early 1990’s before their was internet porn, or I suppose that might have been an additional problem. I can remember nothing done to help those people confront their urges and make a positive conversion towards a choice of celibacy.

    Many years ago a good friend was traveling in Tibet and had a conversation on a bench in a springtime monastery garden in the Himalayas at twilight. She was hoping to gain spiritual insights into Buddhism via beauty of the place and time from a young celibate monk about her own age (23 at the time). The young monk was trying to gain spiritual insights into sexuality via incidentals from her. She’s eaten a lot of dinners on that story. Not just a Catholic problem.

    Some guys just figure it out on their own, and I imagine some get help from candid conversations on the internal forum. (That was my strategy.) I would hope, given the role celibacy plays in your church (it’s not the problem) you’d begin to create structures to help people become mature sexual beings who can react to their sexual impulses within their choice of celibacy and service.

  22. Joe in Canada says:

    regarding whether “clericalism” marginalizes women, I wonder if there are more Religious women or lay men as Chancellors, or, in general, in leadership in any diocesan offices not reserved to clerics.

  23. jbpolhamus says:

    “The Pill tries to create a moral equivalence between those who want the older form of the Roman Rite and clerical sexual abusers.”

    Rather laughable, considering the situation among the Dutch Salesians which has emerged over the weekend. We all can see that they’re SOOOOOO old rite. Um-hm…yeah. The little Pill rages on, meanwhile the biological solution is working against them. And what the biological solution fails to cleanse, the western secular courts will cleanse for us (outside of the Netherworls…, er, Netherlands of course, because it’s encouraged there). But by and large they will find themselves hoist by their own petard. Deo Gratias.

  24. stpetric says:

    I find Potter Stewart’s comment about pornography to apply as well to clericalism: I recognize it when I see it. And I’m sad to say I see its nascent form at my own seminary–

    – in the theology students who would prefer not to be in classes with “lay” students
    – in the theology students who would prefer not to study with lay professors
    – in the opinion I’ve heard more than once that priests really can’t be close friends with lay people
    – etc.

    I should add that these are fundamentally decent guys whom I think will by and large make hard-working, faithful priests … but many of whom, I fear, have an exaggerated sense of a distinctly clerical caste.

    For their part, the “formators” are so intent on fostering priestly fraternity that I’ve yet to hear any of them mention clericalism.

  25. Henry Edwards says:


    I’m afraid that “bowling a maiden over” would be most inappropriate at my age and station in life. Otherwise, thanks!

  26. benedetta says:

    It’s propaganda. It’s like “What do we want? /abortion…When do we want it? /now!” They should just put it across their masthead and be done with it.

    As far as clericalism is concerned, well, it’s sort of like abuse itself, it certainly can come from clerics whom they would like or appreciate (and I won’t say ‘liberal’ since they give liberalism a bad name but they probably style themselves thus) and it can come from non-Catholics as well can’t it. Given the choice of clericalism experienced from dissenters and non-Catholics, then, I would choose overall, anti-clericalism. Since that we could verify at least…

    It sounds like their real concern is that some young priests and religious will actually be trying to be and appear to be, together, what they aspire to, without pushing their narcissistic selves as first and foremost, their hangups and dissenting ways, first and foremost. For if clerics start actually being, clerics, reliably and without pretense or second guessing, transparent, then, that would mean that the laity equally are living the dignity to which we are all called. This seems to disturb and frighten them to no end. Where does the Tablet believe such clerics come from? Out of thin air? Grow on trees? Maybe the stork brings them…in between commercials for jersey shore, and teenage sexting?

  27. Fr. Basil says:

    \\3. To pretend that a sexually functioning male, whose hormones are raging, is NOT an object of intensely homosexual desire is to be far more unworldly than I would expect of even of The Flying Nun.\\

    Just as every heterosexual man is not attracted to every female (and vice versa), so every homosexual man is not attracted to every mature male, believe it or not.

    \\ As George Segal says to Richard Burton in ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf’ “Stick to your knitting, grandma.”\\

    That’s one of my favorite plays and movies.

    I’m sorry, however. I don’t know how to knit.

    Fr. Z, the clinical distinction between hebephilia and pedophilia (to say nothing about the meaning of the latter in law) is not a subject for your blog, [Hmmm…. you know something? While I hate the topic… while I find it disgusting… I just remembered that this is actually my blog. On your blog, you can pick and chose what to post about.] though I thank you for making it. However, people who have grown up (be they gay or straight) are NOT interested in age-inappropriate relationships, despite teen-age boy’s dreams of being seduced by cougars. [And with that, this digression is over.]

  28. benedetta says:

    And yet the current culture, whether looked at from the cultural ‘artifacts’ or from the vantage of criminal statistics, certainly does not support integrated sexuality though it profits mightily from the notion that they are somehow better from the Church, less repressed, more tolerant and open. In fact, the occurrence (regardless of whether heterosexual or homosexual) of adults seeking to exploit children through a variety of means sexually, even while some would tout our supposedly highly evolved and tolerant sexual state, has increased if one includes internet and child pornography related offenses. Or if one includes sexual slavery or so-called sexual tourism. Quite frequently one reads of teachers, physicians, dentists, psychologists, coaches convicted of sexual abuse. Nor do I think the media does anyone any favors when it soft-pedals on dsk. From a feminist perspective, from the perspective of basic social justice and dignity, the accusations are totally outrageous. To believe that we can now discuss this man’s foibles and sexual appetites as somehow being able to tolerate, violent, criminal assault by a wealthy man in this manner is so outrageous yet the media would like us to believe it’s just a shortcoming of an otherwise great leader…The media ought to also do what the bishops should have done and just referred it over to the court system for criminal justice. Why give cover. If we don’t give cover to criminal sexual assault somehow then we are to become prudes is that it?

  29. Marianna says:

    It’s a poor editorial, but there was one part that reflects reality here in the UK, at least: considerable bad feeling has sprung up between “supporters” of the two forms of the Rite, something which our Holy Father can never have intended.

    N.B., I note that the new Instruction makes it clear that groups requesting the Usus Antiquior cannot contest the validity of the Novus Ordo, or the authority of the Pope, both things which I have been distressed to see that some who attend Mass in the Old Form have done.

  30. Corinne says:

    I am currently reading Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz’s (John Paul II’s personal secretary) book called “A Life with Karol.” At the beginning of chapter 23 the book states:

    [Vatican watchers] discovered that for the first time since the Counter-Reformation the Church was beginning to declericalize itself. The Second Vatican Council laid the groundwork for this process but it never really got off the ground–that is not until John Paul II gave it a new start. The moment had come to dismantle–as he himself put it: “the old one-sided emphasis on the clergy.”
    the Church is a communion, in fact, a family, where all the baptized have an equal dignity, so that non one should feel marginalized or, worse, excluded…[John Paul II] suceeded in giving an increasingly higher profile to charisms, the laity, and community, rather than simply reasserting the instutitional, the clergy, and the hierarchy.


  31. benedetta says:

    With respect to the ideal of the integrated sexuality, look at it for a moment from the standpoint of parents hoping to guide children to adulthood. If one goes a purely secular route and accepts everything that is being pushed and marketed especially and directly to young people, or, if one goes the sort of marginally sort of spiritual/Catholic approach that says, with Vatican II, all is legitimately out the window such that Mass attendance, optional, the commandments and teachings of the faith concerning sexuality, optional and that whatever is marketed can be interpreted as fine and even reflective of Catholic spirituality and teaching, then, let’s take a look at what can be looked forward to: by any measure, whether anecdotal or statistically speaking, using all of the markers of what the secular world considers sexual health (Kinsey et al), then, though everything seems offered, available and acceptable, the results show that we as a culture are far from being healthy. Far from it, even with our pill and our abortion, even with our gay pride, libertinism. Our generation has no “baggage” of being forced to memorize the much derided Baltimore Catechism, and we have no guilt trips, no repression (not even in small amounts). When I look at the objective measures, the results or the anecdotes, and then when I look into the very good points and aspects of what the Church teaches, well. Not only do I not believe that the secular culture or the marginally Catholic one will assist in bringing about long-term health but I do think that in many respects it is in fact quite harmful. I think it does reflect the culture of death, not just in the pushing of actual abortion but in all of its sinister and unhealthy messages which far from being about woodstock are actually closer to a nihilistic vision of the world. Young people deserve better. They deserve, real hope, the truth, the beauty and goodness of all that God has created, a real future.

    I think the moniker, RU486 for this publication is totally apt. Also, R U srius?

  32. James Joseph says:

    Let’s face the facts, it’s almost entirely adult male to adult male contact. The remaining stats are made up of adult male to adult female contact, kiddie touchers, and out-right fabriactions.

    Once we do something about inconstant homosexuality, the pervs and the adulterers will stick out like sore thumbs.

    I think I’m going to go throw up now.

  33. s i says:

    wow. This is a Catholic publication? I am speechless. WOW! What planet are they from anyway? Send them back please.

  34. GTW says:

    Sometimes it is almost impossible to produce a non-emotional response to drivel like that piece in The Tablet. As sarcastic and flippant as this might sound, I have come to be able to dismiss the really stupid opinions that some human beings seem so adept at producing without getting irritated: Jesus loves idiots. He died for so many. Who am I to disagree with Him?

  35. MissOH says:

    That editorial was kind of like shooting fish in a barrel, there was so much at which to aim.

    Gee, I am a woman and I do recognize that our priests have a special vocation gifted to the by God that originated in Jesus. Without our priests no confession or communion for me, my family or friends. I have a special vocation as a woman, I was blessed to be able to have children….gasp, God does not grace everyone in exactly the same way. Ummm, yes, in his wisdom and love.

    “While the post-Vatican II new-rite Mass emphasizes the Eucharist as an activity shared by the whole community”…. and it has benefited so many people to have the me, me, me focus and the emphasis on the “personality priest”, to circle around the table o’the Lord without regard to personal sin or anything pesky like that.

    There are so many people who “know” that the eucharist as community meal and the entire mass in the vernacular with contemporary songs was what Vatican II called for that they take comfort in their own fiction rather than read the documents and look at the truth.

  36. EWTN Rocks says:


    I have to disagree on a couple of points: first, not all women have been blessed with children (although, through God’s grace some may be in the future); second, most people post-Vatican II are not drawn to church for priests with personality – if like me, they want to honor and show reverence to our Lord in churches reflecting religious tradition.

    I will agree with you on one point: we are fortunate to have priests gifted by God, originating in Jesus.

  37. theophilus says:

    The Catholic League (God Bless them) has some comments on the Jay Report


  38. Clericalizing the laity is the easy way out for priests who have been alerted to the very presence of the laity–long ignored. It is much harder for priests to encourage, support, and get out of the way of the laity fulfilling their own role. That role is not centered on the altar but pointed toward the whole world. With God’s help, the laity can make this world into the kingdom of God or damn near like it. Liberal, right-wing, traditionalists, middle-of-the-road, it doesn’t matter. Priests are afraid to teach the laity their true dignity and role. Too much will change. The focus will move off of priests. The clericalist egos of many will be deflated. The priests won’t be the leaders of that change (note Fr. Pfelger); the laity will. That’s less air time for priests. Also, it’s much easier to tell women they should be deacons and altar servers. Turn those women loose, and the whole place will be full of Angela Merkels and Benazir Bhuttos trying to do something out there. Can’t have that. Clericalism is a lot easier.

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