|A PRIEST LOOKS AT CLERGY SEX ABUSE|
A priest who does not feel free to identify himself for fear of repercussions from his bishop wrote this analysis after he read the John Jay Report. May 30, 2011
Clericalism is at the core of the problem sexual abuse by clergy; it is also at the core of most of the challenges that we who are the Church face in the 21st century. Clericalism infects the entire structure of the Church: the belief that a privileged, entitled "upper class" in the Church (clergy) who govern or rule the community because "they know better" or "are specially chosen by God" is simply not reflective of the teaching of Jesus or the practice or belief of the early Church.
Vatican II recovered for the first time in 1600 years the understanding of Church that prevailed in the first four centuries after Jesus. We owe thanks to the theologians of the Ressourcement—DeLubac, Congar, Danielou, Courtney Murray, Hans Kung et.al., who, it should be noted, were all silenced by the Vatican prior to the Council.
The renewed understanding of the Church as a people is reflected in the Council Documents, particularly the Decree on the Sacred Liturgy—Sacrosanctum Concilium—that reserves no place for clericalism—glorification of a priest.
The word sacerdos (priest) is not used; instead the Greek word presbyteros (elder, presider) is used when referring to the Eucharistic celebration. (Translators of the Council Documents chose the word "priest" because it is more common in English-speaking countries.)
Luther among other scholars noted that the words "priest" and "priestly" were used only twice in the New Testament: "priest" to describe Jesus the Eternal High Priest (Letter to the Hebrews) and "priestly" to describe the "priestly People of God (First Letter of Peter). Those who presided at Eucharist are described in the Acts of the Apostles in Greek as presbyteroi (elders, presiders). The Latin "sacerdos" (priest) came into use only with Constantine in the fourth Century when the Western church became Romanized.
Clericalism—the glorification of priests—is rampant in the Church because Benedict XVI and John Paul II have implemented agendas of Regression. Their actions roll back the Council’s reforms and attempt to return the Roman Catholic Church to its condition prior the Council.
Lip service is paid to the Council vision and reforms, but, practically speaking, the "powers" view the Council as a rupture and aberration to be ignored and disassembled under the guise of an "Ecclesiology of Continuity."
Ecumenical Councils, and decrees, are binding on the whole Church, including Popes and Bishops.
What is happening in my church? The problem is much deeper than the sexual abuse crisis by clergy; that is only the tip of the iceberg of clerical corruption. The blatant disregard of the Second Vatican Council’s definition of the Church as the People of God in favor of monarchical leadership strives to shore up clerical superiority that is above the law. They appeal to "apostolic authority" received from an "unbroken line of succession" from St. Peter and Jesus. Many, if not all, Church historians believe this monarchical claim of exclusively male superiority to be a myth.
Clericalism is not simply the burden of priests who abuse children; hierarchy betrays the whole Church by its dishonesty that they justify by a claim to superiority.