The elephant in the room: The clergy


“It seems the younger priests emerging from seminaries, here and elsewhere, are getting better (or worse!) at demanding full allegiance from the laity,” said an email I received this week.

Last Saturday the Archbishop of Johannesburg, Buti Tlhagale, preached about his woes – and sufferings – as a diocesan bishop at the first profession of a religious sister.

He reportedly said that some priests “regard the money of the parish as their own, like Zuma with state funds, it is their own little piggy bank.”

Here is the burgeoning question: When will we deal with the elephant in the room – the clergy?

Pope Francis has condemned ‘clericalism’. One of the big systemic problems in the Catholic Church is us, the clergy. Yet, this is not being addressed.

If anything needs urgent reform it is the current archaic formation system that is failing dismally.

Many lay people too have bought into the clerical caste and so aid and abet clericalism.

Our ecclesiology needs serious rethinking.

People often talk about how they are treated by those in (and those who support) the clerical caste.

One priest stopped children from serving at Sunday Mass because he hadn’t seen them at Mass the week before.

In the sacristy he told them that they could not serve as they had missed Mass and needed to go to confession first.

He assumed they had missed Mass — is his the only parish?

He assumed they hadn’t been to confession — is he the only confessor in town?

A priest refused to say a weekly Mass for a local school and forbade the school from asking another priest to celebrate Mass in ‘my territory’. He said he could only celebrate Mass once a month at the school.

Another newly minted priest, starting out in a parish, stopped a religious woman who has been in religious life for over 50 years, from doing a communion service for the sick and infirm (as she had done for many years). Continue reading

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