Francis to clergy, seminarians, religion in Palermo: “Clericalism… one of the most difficult perversions”

Francis made a pastoral visit to Palermo.  One of the events celebrated is the 25th anniversary of the death of Fr. Pino Puglisi, a venerated local figure.  He challenged the Mafia.  They killed him.

BTW… the infamous Stonewall Inn in NYC was started by the Mafia.

In one speech (not included in today’s public Bolletino for some reason – yet, at least), [It is updated HERE] Francis is said to have said in the afternoon when he visited the parish where don Pino was. He addressed the clergy, religious and seminarians.

“There must be banned every form of clericalism: it’s one of the most difficult perversions to get rid of today, clericalism is.”

Clericalism is one of the most difficult “perversions”?  A curious word to use.

When you hear “perversions” most people make the connection to things like homosexual acts.

I saw an embargoed text of a speech that Francis was to give in that occasion, which included part of that quote, above.  But it was a little different.   It didn’t mention “perversions”.   “Per questo, cari fratelli, va bandita ogni forma di clericalismo: non abbiano in voi cittadinanza atteggiamenti altezzosi, arroganti o prepotenti.”  Then again, Francis goes off text and you have to stick to what he actually says rather than what is sent out beforehand under embargo.

In this version – HERE – the coverage quotes the released, embargoed version, without the mention of “perversions”.  However, that is not what he actually said.

However, in the video, you here him say what Tridente wrote in the tweet. He got it right.

I don’t want to read too much into this single line, but… commonsense suggests that Francis is, once again, worried about The Present Crisis.  It seems to be on his mind.

He and his Team have been redirecting attention away from the mastodon in the rectory, a homosexual subculture in the Church (even if it includes a relatively small number of priests compared to the whole, but of priests and of bishops in positions of greater influence).    It’s not homosexuality in the clergy that causes abuse of young men, seminarians, priests.  No no.  It clericalism.  Clericalism is a real perversion!

Francis spoke off the cuff very often in that speech – a nightmare for journalists, frankly.  However, he thought this important enough to say.  That word “perversion” seems to be the give away.

On another note, Francis also spoke about the “maternal” role of women religious in the Church.  When the finalized transcript is released, that could be worth checking.

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  1. Sportsfan says:

    This seems like an odd venue and occasion to bring up clericalism. Is he suggesting this priest, Fr. Pino Puglisi should not be venerated?

    [Look again.]

  2. HighMass says:

    clericalism seems to be the phrase for the liberals these days. Afterall someone has to be the scape goat. It seems the liberals sowed bad seed, and now are reaping the spoiled fruits of the harvest.
    One can surely see how all this is one sided starting at the top. Arch. Vigano most likey is spot on. No answer re: what Archbishop Vigano said is not surprising. After all if you go against the tide, watch out because you will be removed. (Speaking of Cardinals and Bishops who prefer to follow the teachings of the Church).

    Sorry to say we feel things are going to get worse before they get better in the Church. I guess Our Lady asks us to pray, pray, pray, and that is what we all need to do.

  3. Actually, I think “clericalism” really is the problem. Clericalism means that clerics (incl. bishops, archbishops, cardinals, etc.) protect their own and cover up each others crimes. Clericalism means that clerics (incl. bishops, archbishops, cardinals, etc.) think they are not answerable to those they serve and so meet legitimate questions and concerns with silence and stonewalling. Yes, the Church is being destroyed by clericalism. If the shoe fits …

  4. Charles E Flynn says:

    The Holy Father must have just finished reading St. Peter Damian’s classic, “The Book of the Deplorable Clericals”.

  5. chantgirl says:

    I would be interested to know what Francis’ definition of clericalism is. Is it clericalism for a priest to feel that he is above the law, above answering the questions of commoners or clerics lower on the totem pole, or does his version of clericalism have more to do with the outward trappings of religion- reverent liturgy, suitable vestments and church architecture, smells and bells? I remember he once told a story about a young, vain priest trying a saturno on in a store, in contrast with an older, “humble” priest who was a “real” pastor.

    It might be hard for Francis to point out the bad “clericalist” priests if we are talking about an interior disposition of the heart, but if he is trying to point out those who show their reverence externally with cassocks, beautiful vestments, reverent liturgy etc., then it is easy for everyone to see who the “bad” priests are.

    At a time when real perversions are wrecking the Church, can he really be pointing at traditional priests as a source of one of the “most difficult” perversions while he is silent on the real problem of sexual abuse? Is he trying to link the tradition of the Church to sexual perversion?

    These questions would be absurd except for the fact that Francis has often used his homilies to attack his perceived enemies, and to point out the targets for his cronies to attack.

    I can’t help but wonder if a purge is coming.

  6. PetersBarque says:

    I wondered about PF’s definition of clericalism as well. But then I thought about how he uses ambiguity and/or certain phrases as sort of weapons against those he apparently deems less enlightened than himself. Ladies and gentlemen, this mantra is the official spin from the top.

  7. Lurker 59 says:

    The only remotely way that I can get to an understanding of “clericalism” that fits within the paradigm of Pope Francis, is to have it related not to authority or trappings of power, but rather to a position that values the law (natural, human, moral, divine, eternal, etc.) appearance to and striving after such perfection, and the role of a cleric as gatekeeper/teacher/judge of the same, over and against a position of the connectivity between human persons and the importance of clerics to accompany individuals not towards a moral state but towards a state of mutuality (defined in a Marxist sort of way).

    For the powers at be, the problem is definitely not so much episcopal buggery but rather devils who reveal such to the public at large. In Luther, the Law is strictly given to reveal sin — the Law exists to tell us how damned we are and, to condemn all the more so those who seek to fulfill it for fulfillment is impossible and one will only fall into greater sin in trying. In Luther, the solution is mutuality with Christ, who alone fulfilled the Law, not in the knowing and living out the Law through Grace, as the “clericalists” teach.

    Thusly, clericalists, as understood by Pope Francis, are likely those legalistic moralists who wish to teach the Law, act as gatekeepers, and toss infractors of the Law out of communion with the body of believers, instead of simply accompanying others and striving for (marxist) mutuality.

  8. Henry Edwards says:

    Ours is an era of code-words. So now

    clericalism = sodomy ?

  9. Charles E Flynn says:

    @Henry Edwards,

    Apparently true, Scrabble excepted.

  10. ex seaxe says:

    The charitable explanation of the Pope’s message on clericalism is found in remarks like this “sexual abuse is the consequence of abuse of power and of conscience”. Which he said in amswer to a question at a meeting in Dublin with Jesuits. Full report at McCarrick got what he wanted from seminarians by an abuse of power and a subversion of conscience. And McCarrick kept people from speaking out by an abuse of power, the corruption in particular of those ambitious for preferment.
    I think it is obvious that some people choose occupations in which they will have access to the vulnerable, to seek sexual gratification.And that is true whether their preferred prey is male or female, but clearly, homosexuals will seek an all male environment.
    I also think it is obvious that priests need to sublimate their sexuality, and that it is difficult. Some get angry, and there is a danger of chanelling that anger into domination of others.

  11. maternalView says:

    Gaslighting once again!

  12. Prayerful says:

    Sodomy and pederasty, and protecting its practitioners like Fr Grassi, who enjoys a luxurious cell thanks to Francis and allies, is worse than whatever he means by clericalism.

  13. Toan says:

    Rich people commit abuse, as do college students, school teachers, family members, and even poor people. Why should the cause of sexual abuse by priests be “clericalism” when for all other sexual abusers we’d say the cause is, perhaps, lust, selfishness, stupidity, and/or pride?

    In other words, what makes priests so special that clericalism causes all of their abuse rather than these other vices?

  14. Benedict Joseph says:

    Public exhibitions of pathological denial should be banned. Its not good for children.

  15. Orlando says:

    Father, I no longer care what he says or doesn’t say. What he believes or doesn’t believe . Who he talks to or doesn’t talk to ,I frankly don’t care. Truth is truth. What the church has taught for 2000 years does not change on the whims of one man not called Jesus Christ.

  16. LatinMan says:

    If I may say, I do think clericalism is a problem, and by clericalism, I mean, a desire not for the glory of God, the exaltation of the true Faith, and the salvation of souls, but rather, for career advancement. This leads to people saying and doing whatever it takes to “get ahead” in the Church. It’s what used to be called the vice of human respect, and this vice is everywhere today.

    Think about it, for fear of being called or though of fundamentalists, Catholic biblical scholars, many with the bishops’ blessing, have thrown sound exegetical norms overboard and brought in all kinds of rationalistic criticism. For fear of being called prejudiced and narrow-minded, many in the Church want to believe that all religions lead to God, and that faith in Christ or membership in the Church are not really necessary for salvation (and yes, I understand inculpable ignorance and all that). For fear of being called antiquarian or bigoted, we see many in the Church today want to deny the doctrine of Christ on sexual morality. I could go on and on, but you get the idea. The sad irony is that Pope Francis is doing more to perpetuate this vice than any other pope in recent memory.

    All of this, of course, is perfectly compatible with recognizing sodomy as a major contributing factor to this mess, but I do think we can’t entirely exclude clericalism, understood properly.

  17. yatzer says:

    Just as an aside; thank you, thank you, thank you–all you faithful priests out there. If it’s hard on us laity, I can only imagine what some of you might be experiencing. God bless you.

  18. Malta says:

    “The Holy Father must have just finished reading St. Peter Damian’s classic, “The Book of the Deplorable Clericals”.

    Hahaha-good one! This ‘pope’ should transition over to the Anglicans, who share his views.

  19. Malta says:

    “Recall the whisky priest of Graham Green’s The Power and the Glory. Hounded and hunted by the anti-Catholic Mexican regime, he is in every way a broken man, until he remembers that, despite all, he still possesses the priestly power to put God on the tongues of men. Is it clericalism to exult in the indelible mark of holy orders heroically manifested under conditions of moral disorder and duress?”

  20. Fr_Sotelo says:


    An excellent post. You hit the nail on the head. Clericalism is very much connected to climbing the Church ladder, and doing whatever will make one noticed in the Church (“the vice of human respect”). On the flip side, clericalism seeks to avoid and shun whatever will rock the boat of clerical authority and power. Both dissenters and traditional clergy played the game, and wanted no one causing waves which would disturb the uneasy truce of clergy politics.

    So pastors didn’t want to report associates who should have been reported. Bishops did not confront pastors who should have been confronted. And as we see now, even cardinals simply did not want to hear about the corruption of fellow men at the highest levels of the Church. They were happy to exchange rumors, but God forbid anyone should investigate to see if there was fire, where there was smoke. These taboos of reporting were even more enforced when the offending cleric was popular, a good money raiser, a darling of powerful people who could benefit the Church.

    My only caveat is that among those of us who love the traditional Faith, that we not acquiesce to this mindset by holding the “liberals” in grave suspicion while the “traditional” clergy are gullibly stamped with impeccability. Even our own traditional clergy must not be given the idea that the collar, or trappings of respect for Holy Orders, gives them a pass on accountability. The question we must ask is, “If my favorite, most Traditional Bishop, is rumored to look the other way when his priests are said to engage in misconduct, will I rationalize this and defend him because he is one of the good guys?”

  21. robtbrown says:

    In my experience the greatest examples of clericalism have come from liberal clergy, who want to dictate, regardless of what doctrine or official policy says.

    Following Augustine Thompson’s comments, if I might give two concrete examples of clericalism:

    1. Not answering the dubia of the four Cardinals.

    2. Accusing those who have brought the scandals to light of being inspired by the Great Accuser (which probably is a reference to Satanic inspiration).

  22. robtbrown says:

    BTW, I know of no Christian tradition that says that clericalism is a sin crying to heaven for vengeance.

  23. FN says:

    I think that his definition of clericalism is “the belief that clergy are in any way better or holier than the laity, and deserve deference and respect.” He wants to radically level the Church… as in, raze it to rubble, but in HIS mind this would be a return to the “barefoot purity” of the early Church when people weren’t so “rigid” and “legalistic.” (Spirit of Vatican II is alive and well in PF’s cerebellum.) Like with everything he says, you can see that it sorta started out as a good idea, but is tragicomically, diametrically opposed to the real needs of the faithful. And also as with everything he says, you can see the advanced corrosion of his thought by moral relativism.

  24. un-ionized says:

    Fr. Sotelo, thank you for posting this. I was run out of Dodge by priests claiming to be orthodox and with all the trappings but who are running a country club parish rife with favoritism. People are not just gullible, they truly want to think the best of others, but that in your face wickedness was too much. Though everyone there is still turning a blind eye to it because of some skillful lying and gaslighting. It took a letter to the bishop to sort of get it fixed, though the really bad one now is in charge of formation elsewhere. This is also the norm. Prayer. Fasting. Repeat until skinny.

  25. DisturbedMary says:

    The word clericalism is to the word homosexuality what the word choice is to abortion.

  26. DisturbedMary says:

    As long as clericalism-attracted men are not allowed in the priesthood, problem solved.

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