Tuesday, May 24, 2011
CLERICALISM'S FLIP SIDE, CONGREGATIONALISM WHICH IS REALLY GOOD OLD NEO-PROTESTANTISM!
CLERICALISM FLIP SIDE: CONGREGATIONALISM
After Vatican II and in order to promote the “priesthood” of the laity, most parishes in the United States began Parish Councils which were modeled after elected “legislatures” in cities, states and nations. It was based upon representation in the parish , electing members to the council and giving parishioners a vote in the parish.
Later, as experience dictated that this model was not appropriate for the Catholic Church which is hierarchical, governed by canon law and diocesan policies, parish councils developed into “pastoral councils.” These councils respected canon law which stated that all such councils are advisory to the pastor and do not usurp his canonical authority in making decision in the parish, but rather advise him in making those decisions.
Most Catholics though, believed parish councils and pastors should consult with the entire parish, take votes from a congregational view and adhere to the will of the people. Of course, that is a corrupt view of Catholicism. We see it especially in the “ultra-liberal” “Voice of the Faithful” movement in the Church following revelations about the sex abuse scandal. These tiny in number, but vocal lay Catholics want to run the Church, hire and fire their priests, elect their bishops and be more like the Episcopal Church in governance, locally, nationally and internationally.
The only problem with this approach is that it is not Catholic, does not follow our hierarchical structure of things, which the Church believes to be infallibly revealed, does not follow canon law and also leads small groups of laity fighting for more power in the Church.It becomes very divisive. They tend to have contempt for the hierarchy and the canon laws that govern the exercise of authority.Often they desire to usurp that authority over perceived and actual abuse of authority or mismanagement of authority. They want to call the shots, review all financial records, hire and fire and have a voice in micro managing the parish and its pastor. They want to know who is paid what, and they threaten to withhold their offerings until things are the way they want them to be. Don't you just love these pseudo-Catholics on the right and the left and in the middle?
In other words, we see the laity striving to become more like bishops and priests and striving to make the bishops and priests more like the laity. It is the clericalization of the laity and the laicization of the clergy! It happens not only in ultra-progressive, liberal parishes but also in even conservative, traditional parishes. The root desire though is control, to wrestle it away from its rightful canonical recipient. Those on the right who try to take over are as much a part of "AM-Church" that they so decry concerning those on the left!
Congregationalism becomes the flip side of clericalism when individuals or groups of individuals not knowing canon law and the limits of their advice to the pastor, begin to usurp the pastor’s role, challenge his canonical authority and strive to act as parishioners in the Protestant form of congregationalism as experienced in most Baptist Churches as well as in many Episcopal Churches. In other words, these parishioners strive to make the pastor’s life miserable.
We all know of the havoc that clericalism can bring to a parish when the pastor doesn’t follow canon law and rules the parish autocratically or so delegates his authority, that little kingdoms develop in the parish and power plays between various lay groups and paid staff members take place. Both extremes harm the unity of the parish.
Catholics should be Catholics--that means embracing the Catholic Church, her hierarchy in good times and in bad and giving advise where appropriate needed and requested.