When they claim “Clericalism!”, they really mean #sodoclericalism

There are a few terms in common usage which I would like to be able to reform in common usage.  For example, I wish that “priestcraft” wasn’t so relentlessly derogatory.  It can mean “professional knowledge and skill in respect to the exercise of priestly functions” but it almost always is taken to mean, “the scheming and machinations of priests”.  It would be nice to say that seminarians are learning “priestcraft”, the craft of doing things priests do.  That, alas, is not the common definition.

I would leave “jesuitical”, however, just as it is.  Just. As. It. Is.

I’ve been thinking about the term “clericalism”.  Definitions vary widely.

In a political sense, clericalism has to do with the involvement of clerics in governance and affairs of state, as opposed to “laicism”. Merriam Webster goes straight to “a policy of maintaining or increasing the power of a religious hierarchy”. Oxford says, “(especially in Roman Catholic contexts) the misuse or overextension of the clergy’s authority.”

When we hear clericalism, it is almost always pejorative. Clerics have or grasp at too much authority, beyond their spiritual sphere.

John Paul II identified a different kind of clericalism, one to which I have often referred on this blog: the attempt, especially by libs, to turn lay people into faux-clerics. I see it this way. If clericalism is a negative treatment of lay people, about the worse thing you can do to them is suggest that, on their own as baptized faithful, they aren’t good enough. Hence, the worst sort of clericalism is a condescending attitude whereby priests and bishop “allow” lay people to do things in the liturgy or elsewhere, that are really the bailiwick of clerics. Unwittingly, this is what those who seek the ordination of women are doing to women. It’s awful.

Another idea of clericalism is not that which comes from the clergy, but that which comes from the laity themselves. Some lay people have, whether clerics have promoted it or not, a distorted view of who clerics are and what they are for. This can lead, of course, also to the flipside of the coin: anti-clericalism.  Although I admit willingly to a strong dose of anti-clericalism, in the sense that I really don’t like some of my brethren.  The feeling is mutual.

I have, however, tried sometimes to promote a more positive idea of clericalism. For example, I think it is important for priests to spend time together, to give each other positive support, apart from the eyes and ears of lay people. Clerics are, after all, by definition, distinct from laity, especially these days, since the clerical state begins with the imposition of an indelible mark on the soul through sacramental ordination. To this end, I have, with tongue in cheek, hosted “Suppers For The Promotion Of Clericalism”, intended to bring men together for mutual support and the recharging of batteries.   But, alas, that’s not how most people hear the word, which is why I have fun using “promotion of clericalism” in that social context.  We have to keep a sense of humor.

In another, now sadly common use, Francis relentlessly speaks of clericalism but it is hard to know what he means. He is the master of the strawman, incessantly throwing censorious jabs and insults at vaguely – at best – identified groups. Right now, for Francis and his Team, “clericalism” seems to mean, “the desire to expose the truth about the crimes that bishops and the Curia have obviously been covering up and then root them out.”

Maybe it isn’t so hard to know what he means, at least right now.

The problem is, often, that clericalism is loosely defined and often a caricature of some usually negative reality.

These days, however, we are seeing clericalism use, along the lines I suggest above, as a kind of a dodge, a strawman.

It is increasingly clear that The Present Crisis has been largely brought about by homosexual clergy who have created a subculture in the Church.

Some of these clerics are homosexualists, seeking consciously to build this subculture for the sake of grasping the reins of power and maintain that power. Others, succumbing to the temptations of their disordered desires, simply want to stay on the low down. Either way, there is a culture of coverup. It’s clerical, in that it is in clerical circles and it concerns all that they do in their clerical lives. But it is, more fundamentally a homosexualist attitude or disorder which seeks to keep itself hidden so that it can get power or just get on. Also, because this disorder often preys on the young, which is mostly illegal and nearly always at least highly unethical, the desire to cover up the reality of this subculture is powerful. And then there is the influence of the Devil, and the demonic which attaches to the sins committed and the places where they are perpetrated.

It is really nasty business, this subculture, replete with nearly every sort of human depravity that the Enemy of the soul can promote in chains of sins, each leading to worse and worse lows.

Those who desire to avert our attention from the REAL cause of The Present Crisis cry “Clericalism!” as if it is a result of clerics, in general, wanting a distorted and exalted role of privilege and dominance. Sure, there is some of that kind of clericalism in the Church and it would be stupid and counterproductive to deny it. However, that’s apart from the sort of clericalism inflicted by the homosexual cabal in the Church.

We need a new term for the machinations of homosexualist clerics and their lay counterparts who are trying to deflect attention away from the true roots of The Present Crisis.

When Team Francis and their allies use the word “clericalism”, it is code for sodoclericalism.

The left and homosexualists have hijack the word “clericalism”. Nay, rather, they are trying to redefine “clericalism”.

We, however, know that when they claim “Clericalism!”, they really mean “sodoclericalism”.

When, for example, over at Fishwrap Madame Defarge writes about “clericalism”, or Mickens or Spadaro or Rosica or Faggioli or these usual suspects talk about “clericalism”, what they are covering over is sodoclericalism.  That’s what you should hear when you find their attempts to distract from the real problem we face.

BTW… moderation is ON.   And if I don’t think you “get it”, I’ll hold your comments for while, if I hold them at all.   I am not going to let this go down a rabbit hole… no… what we must now call a

… Cupich hole.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    The other day I was also trying to figure out what they mean when they blame the current scandal on “Clericalism”, so I simply googled the word to see if I could figure out how you could possibly apply that to the current situation. According to Wikipedia, clericalism in a pejorative manner means, “excessive devotion to the institutional aspects of an organized religion, usually over and against the religion’s own beliefs or faith.” In a sense, I could see how you would apply this to the cover ups of all the scandals by bishops, cardinals, and the pope. You could say the cover ups were done to protect the people in the hierarchy and the institution of the church itself from looking bad and losing power. This is putting the institution of the Church ahead of the Church’s beliefs, because if you put the Church’s beliefs first you would have dealt with the issue rather than cover it up. The problem is, the cover ups are only part of the scandal, the root of the problem, as you have said is homosexual clergy preying on young men. The people in power in the Church still don’t want to deal with this, so they are only focused on the cover up, they refuse to root out the sin that the cover ups were covering up, so they try to wave their hands and make a big show about the cover up so you won’t think about the deeper issues.

  2. francophile says:

    Fundamentally, we are being asked by the Pope and many bishops to accept predatory homosexual behaviour as the norm for clerical life. And we are being asked to “look the other way” because the behaviours are normal for our clergy and leadership.

    May I ask: This is NOT normal?I cannot stomach the amount of lies and deceits perpetrated at this moment. Bishops are defending behaviours that are sins against heaven and earth in the name of maintaining the status quo. To quote the Bach cantata: My hearts swims in blood….

  3. excalibur says:

    “Cupich hole” Give yourself a Gold Star, Father Z.

    Remembering what the late Cardinal George said about his successor. Persecuted, but not what we thought over? The Lord works in mysterious ways.


    Our Lady of Fatima pray for us.

  4. TonyO says:

    There isn’t really any even half-way supportable reason to call the cover-up / cabal / homosexualism crisis by the name of “clericalism”. There isn’t, in fact, any reason to call ANY important set of events today “clericalism”, because whatever tiny realities there that might happen to exist in some out-of-the-way priest or cleric’s mind, they don’t arise to a crisis at all, because our culture is so dead set against power or roles reserved to the clergy. The only reason anybody is using a term like “clericalism” is in order to prevent people naming the crisis by anything that ACTUALLY PERTAINS to the real situation, like “homosexualism” and “perversion” and “licentiousness” and “cover-up” and “abuse of power” and “criminal offenses” and “heresy” and “criminal negligence”. No, none of those are to be named, because after all, they are provable or disprovable by following the evidence, whereas “clericalism” is one of those nebulous ‘problems’ that can be found everywhere or nowhere, whichever you prefer, because it is “in the eye of the beholder”. It’s a pure sham, of the most shameless sort. A mere 3 months ago “clericalism” wan’t on anybody’s radar as a problem. Because, of course, it WASN’T A PROBLEM. And still isn’t. I suppose that charity requires that I not call people who are using the term “liars” because I don’t know their intention directly, but gee whiz it sure is hard to restrain myself from doing so.

  5. Sseprn says:

    Thank you Father for those observations. What a mess we have. We need to stay strong, have faith, and Pray.
    Along the same lines, over at Crisis, is a piece by Anthony Esolen: https://www.crisismagazine.com/2018/beware-the-allure-of-the-inner-ring.

  6. Kent Wendler says:

    Would you consider offering this to First Things as a “daily article”? I think it’s worth it. (You might need to define “Fishwrap” and include appropriate illustrative links to some of the names.)

  7. Markus says:

    When informed by my parish priest, during a conversation, that his mentor/friend/fellow priest instructed him that, as pastor, he could paint the pews purple if he wanted to. I took this as an example of extreme clericalism.

    When my parish priest informed whom his mentor was, the priest whom commented to my wife standing next to me that “I love your shoes” (pink high heels with tiny bows), I did not have a thought-provoking term for his comment. Now I do. Thank you for the clarification for the proper use of the language.

  8. Gregg the Obscure says:

    Leftist language – so well described by George Orwell a few years ago – doesn’t call things what they are lest a useful idiot have his or her pwecious feewings hurt. Sadly too many go along with leftist abuse of language. Pushing back against it is a good thing. Fr. Z’s coinage is more succinct than mine. I call the problem ClericalBuggerySpreeIsm

  9. TonyO says:

    Sseprn, Tony Esolen’s article makes a great point. Or several, really.

    Perhaps goes beyond the scope of what he was pointing out, but the process of corruption that occurs in the seminaries and schools and avenues of power in the homosexualist inculture is insidious in a way that is SIMILAR to what occurs in non-sexual corruption spreading itself, but it has one distinctive facet.

    The sticking point is this: MOST men are not actually inclined to homosexual acts. Indeed, most men in the seminary are not inclined to homosexual acts. So when when a homosexual priest reaches out to a young man, say a first year seminarian – to extend the reach of homosexual acts to a new person, whether the priest intends specifically to CORRUPT a new person is not necessarily germane: he might reach out to that seminarian whether the young man is already an active homosexual or not. But because most men are not inclined to homosexuality, the experienced homosexual priest reaches out in a tentative and easily mis-interpreted way. The initial invitation is, to a man inexperienced in these things, dubious and uncertain: did he REALLY mean to ask me if I am interested in a sexual liaison? Does he REALLY think of me that way? Or am I misreading the whole thing and his comment was just an innocuous jocular nonsense? Of course, the young man who is an experienced homosexual will easily recognize the play for a real invitation, but MOST men are not that.

    But what follows from the uncertain young seminarian who feels highly uncomfortable with the apparent pass at him? If he rejects it outright in explicit terms, he takes the risk that he will be made a fool for “mis-interpreting” the comment. If he reports it to one of his superiors, he again risks being made a fool for mis-interpreting. Not to mention that maybe the superior is himself a homosexual or is sympathetic to them.

    But if he FAILS to report the pass at him to anyone, he can be pressured in the future: he can be importuned by the very failure to act, as putting him somehow in the wrong, and thus he must never in the future ADMIT that he “knew” something and didn’t act. Thus the next time he hears or sees something a little more suspect but still ambiguous, he remains silent. And then the next time…still silence. Until finally, he is fully compromised (or, so it appears to himself, though in reality no honest and decent superior would consider any punishment more grave than a slap on the wrist for the defects of simply not reporting “what he ‘knew’,” which is little enough anyway). It is this emotionally and occupationally compromised situation that leads far more of the priests – who are not themselves actively homosexual – to permit the corruption that extends so far.

    And that compromised situation rests on something distinctive to the homosexual inculture, that is not present in other types of corruption: it feels both disgusting and shameful even to be the subject of a pass by a homosexual. A man who is the subject of a bribery attempt may note the disgustingness of the sin (and crime) of bribery, but he actually has a fleeting feeling of pride in being in a position CAPABLE of have the influence worth bribing. It is not disgusting and shameful to be the subject of someone wanting to bribe you. But a young man – especially, a strong and (hopefully) virile young man – does not want other males to see him as an object of sexual desire, and it disgust him to find that a guy actively wanting him. More, it feels shameful because it seems to imply that he comes off outwardly “like a girl”, for that is the only way a guy ought to “want” another him sexually.

    Of course, because this is likely to remain a feeling and not a conscious thought, it can drive him to mistaken actions that ignore reality, such as the reality that the fact that a homosexual man desires him sexually IS NOT really an indication that he comes off “like a girl”. Indeed, depending on the particulars of disorder in the homosexual man’s disordered affective state, it might indicate that the seminarian comes off as particularly virile, or maybe that the homosexual man would make a pass at ANY man who seems a possible opportunity regardless of how he presents to others.

    Although in a normal and healthy culture we could tolerate a certain amount of seminarians and young priests mistakenly remaining silent about such ambiguous events, the degenerate state of corruption is going to demand a change. We are going to have to insist on things that otherwise would not be reasonable. For instance, no more joking about either being gay, or acting gay, or having gay thoughts, or any of that: sorry, it will have to go by the way-side for a time. Similarly, no more toleration of such ambiguous offers of relationships, intimacies, connections, or anything else that could by any reasonable person be concerning as a prelude to homosexual affairs. Sorry, it’s not “fair” but that’s what we get for allowing the corruption for so long. In order to correct endemic problems, you have to take steps to quarantine the disease, steps that in a HEALTHY society would be unfairly constraining. That’s the way it is.

  10. Joe in Canada says:

    When Pope John Paul II wrote ‘ordinatio sacerdotalis’ in 1994, the document was not presented to the faithful in Quebec. The bishops said “how could we promulgate a document so hurtful to the women we meet in our offices and halls?” That was clericalism, where the bishops deliberately surrounded themselves with a professional class that had no care for the faith but only for their own power.

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