Lay support in priests’ formation could prevent abuse

Lay support could contribute to priests’ “essential human formation” and provide their lives with the “necessary spiritual solidarity,” Cardinal Beniamino Stella says.

Stella, who is the prefect of the Congregation for Clergy, believes if the laity were more involved in priestly formation, the crisis facing the church would not be so grave.

In his view, clericalism has led to “a distorted view of authority” that has contributed to the Church’s problems of sexual abuse and the abuse of power and conscience.

“Even the work of the dicastery attests that many situations in the lives of priests — generated by loneliness, tiredness and misunderstandings — would not have degenerated or would have been addressed in time if there had been listening, accompaniment and sharing by bishops and the entire Christian community,” Stella says.

Addressing the problem of abuse does not depend “solely on the hierarchy and priests,” Stella notes.

“On the contrary, precisely clericalism and often the reduction of the church to an elite class has generated an anomalous way of understanding authority that has devalued baptismal grace and, not infrequently, has contributed to forms of abuse, especially on a person’s conscience,” he says.



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