Thursday, June 2, 2016

CLERICALISM: A LOADED TERM THAT PROGRESSIVES LOVE TO CLUB

The National Chismatic Reporter (NCR) has this article on the much feared and maligned priest--the clerical priest who wears a cassock. It sends chills down their spines and makes them worry to death about the priesthood. To bad they don't have more important things to worry about.

My comments in red within the chismatic text:

Clericalism puts the focus on careerism, not ministry

Phyllis Zagano | Jun. 1, 2016 Just Catholic

The first time I saw the new pastor of a nearby parish, he was wearing a T-shirt and jeans, and standing in a garbage dumpster. (This constitutes a real priest for progressives! It makes the priest so real that it makes them all goose pimply!)

It was early November 2012, just after Hurricane Sandy ripped through New York and New Jersey barrier beaches. The parish church was a mess. The new pastor called some of his old high school buddies to come over from the mainland to help rip out the damaged church. The priest was tromping the debris down. (Wow! A priest doing manual labor and getting a buddy to help! You can't get any less clerical than that can you! That priest should be canonized a living saint and subito!)

I had heard of him, this new priest at the beach. He was more National Catholic Register than National Catholic Reporter, they said. He had an in-law in the chancery. He was … well, there was more, none of it complimentary. (Oh, gosh, a relative in the chancery--sends chills up the spines of progressives and taints anyone who knows that chancery type!)

I supposed he belonged to the clerical "boy's club" -- the closed crowd of cassock-wearing, cigar-chomping aficionados of steak and Scotch. But, there he was, up to his knees in what was pulled from church walls and floors. He did not seem terribly clerical that post-Sandy day. (Now I suppose that the laity who wear dinner jackets, are cigar chomping aficionados of steak and Scotch would feel as goose pimply as poor old Zagano who is more goose pimply over a blue collar working priest cleaning up a hurricane damaged church. To each his own. But horrors of horrors, a priest who wears a cassock, chumps a cigar and likes steak and Scotch. It doesn't get any worse that that does it!)

Oh, you say: nice story, but clericalism is real. Yes, I know clerical cronyism spills out from fancy restaurants, appears in box seats at sports events, and finds its way to Caribbean cruises and vacations. Over expensive dinners, or along with the beer and hot dogs, or between piƱa coladas, the players trade their chips and gather gossip. It has everything to do with careerism and nothing to do with ministry. (Zagano is such a judgemental person. I wonder what her peccadilloes are? Maybe being judgemental and small minded?)

I wonder sometimes if that is why so many good diocesan priests left. The gossip is bad enough, but the preening and politicking for power and prestige is truly sickening. It often boils down to who sits where -- at the dinner, at the ceremony, in the car. Many left. Some got married, some joined religious life. (I thought only progressive, liberal, complaining and never satisfied priests left because their narcissism led them to want to be like everyone else but really stand out in doing so because other priests were sticks in the clerical mud.  When you wear tight jeans and tank top tee shirts and are all sweaty cleaning up a dirty, hurricane damaged churches, well, you know how hormones kick in for some and one thing leads to the next. Cassocks don't seem to illicit the same physical reactions for some reason.)

I wonder also, is that why so many diocesan seminarians called it quits? One told me about his "ministry year" at a parish, when he watched priests toss rolls of cash across a table -- this funeral, that burial, this baptism, that wedding -- while not one hundred yards away families lived in wooden shacks with plastic taped over broken windows. He left as well. (Really? I want to know where this rectory is and well, maybe I'll ask for a transfer.)

Pope Francis wants pastors to smell of the sheep. He rails against clericalism, and I think rightly so. Wasn't there some curial cardinal -- a religious -- who converted three Rome apartments into one? (I think, the Holy Father, who by the way, wears a stand out white cassock different from all other priests and bishops, converted the entire floor of the Vatican Motel Six into his suite and rooms for security and who knows what else. And what about the waste of the former papal palace? And I thought that Pope Francis said he moved into the Vatican Motel Six because of his own needs and desires to be with people and talk, talk, talk whereas in the papal palace he would be isolated and would have to keep quiet. And what about that papal palace that isn't used? Where's the money coming for the electricity and up keep of a vacant palace??? It is enough to drive me to leave the Church!)Yes, Holy Father, the rest of the world wonders along with you where he got the money. It wonders as well about the overstuffed bishops in overstuffed chairs whose residential renovations cost millions. It wonders about the French cuffs and gold cufflinks peeking out from cassock sleeves. It wonders about the beach club memberships and first-class plane tickets. (So many things to worry about and obsess over--isn't there medication for it?)

Of course, I can argue it the other way as well. If the diocesan bishop is the vice president of a fair-sized subsidiary of the multinational corporation called the Catholic church, why shouldn't he enjoy some perks of office? Therein lies the rub. The bishop meets a lot of important people, it's best to show up on time and well-appointed to the dinner or the meeting. But still, does the fisherman need $400 shoes? (This woman is really, really judgemental. I wonder what her childhood issues are that keep haunting her? There is real anger under her angry cynicism. Could you imagine being a friend of her or worse yet, married to her?)

Sometimes the job itself feeds the narcissistic self-centeredness that pops up all over the clerical landscape. As with all else, some balance is in order.

And let me tell you, it takes balance to get into a dumpster. No matter the hearsay that preceded him, that new priest suffered along with millions of others, when storm waters ruined homes, properties, and lives on the barrier islands.

When Sandy hit, birettas and cassocks were just then becoming badges for the newly ordained, which that dumpster-priest was not. He moved the daily Mass to noon, and said it in the parish hall, its floor still sandy from the improbably named storm and filled with donated clothing, diapers, toys, food, and paper goods, all needed to rebuild lives in homes that suffered bay or ocean water. After the Mass, volunteers cooked hot meals for all comers.

The new priest was there and he was not in a cassock. He smelled of the sheep. He might even have smelled of dumpster trash. (This is such a heart warming, goose pimply wonderfully progressive ending to the most cynical, judgmental, angry and obsessed woman's article about priests and bishops. Just what are her issues, I need to know. God help her.)

My final comments: Don't get me wrong. I don't like priests who jockey for money, go too frequently to the best restaurants and wear cassocks to keep them from doing manual labor. I don't like priests who don't minister to their flock and only gravitate to the rich and beautiful. But human nature is human nature and the tight blue jeaned priest in a sweaty tank top cleaning the toilet for others to see strikes me just as clerical as the one in cassock, cuff links and the like. It's all about me!

9 comments:

Marc said...

These days I only encounter biretta-and-cassock-wearing priests. And I can assure you that they are very involved with their parishioners, laying down their lives for their sheep, who are spread far and wide across state and diocesan lines.

The National Schismatic Reporter is headquartered in my town, just a few blocks where where I'm sitting right now. So clearly they're missing out on the priests that I have come to know just in this area. And that's not to mention our bishop, whom I just saw last week walking down the street -- in the rain, just like I, his poor sheep, was doing!

This article is offensive to every good priest, of which there are many, including this blog's author, whom I often disagree with but deeply admire as a pastor.

Dialogue said...

If the clergy are just like the laity, then they're not clergy. This is just Calvinism.

TJM said...

The National Anti-Catholic Reporter - always fighting the last war!!

Phyllis is just jealous. She would have to wear a tent instead of a cassock.

Jusadbellum said...

How superficial.

The cassock, like a wedding ring is as much about protecting the bearer as any other uniform is. It's a public statement about a person's commitment - it removes them from the market so to speak.

As for clericalism - that's an attitude not a dress code.

Boiled to its essence, clericalism PRESUPPOSES that the Church is and is for only what we SEE. It's a lazy, self-satisfied vice of the status quo. On the frontier, in the missions, and in lands under persecution, priests don't have time to settle for the status quo because it can all be swept away in an instant.

One man could - with reasonable skills and smarts - handle about 1,000 people as pastor. But no one can properly serve more than that.... so there are two types of priests: those who see the big picture and realize that they really NEED the laity, they NEED to constantly be on the lookout for vocations, for helpers, for Simon's of Cyrene along their way of the cross.... and thus lift their eyes to the big picture..... or the men who perhaps never understood that their mission is bigger than themselves and the priesthood.

It's analogous to the man who thinks marriage is solely about a perpetual honeymoon and not about procreating a family with his wife in good times and bad.

If the Church's job is to just maintain what we have: 70 million people in the USA constituting no more than 23% of the population.... then clericalism is the way to go. But if the point of the Church is to save all 310 million souls in the USA and 7 billions on earth, then clericalism is not just wrong, it's literally insane.

Clericalism posits that the status quo is perpetual and that there is no enemy to our souls - and so it occupies itself with petty squabbles and small-potato affairs of little social and cultural consequence. It fights off any suggestion of doing more work and seeks always the path of least resistance.

But the Church is not called "militant" for nothing. We've been given all our crosses and our gifts for the purpose of literally bringing all souls on earth to know, love, and serve Jesus Christ - and this is a decidedly "all hands on deck", terrifying (or awesome) vision of what our lives are all about.

God Almighty didn't incarnate and die on a cross for small potatoes and we haven't received all these mysterious gifts including his very real presence for small potatoes either.

We can live to see the eclipse of the sexual revolution in the next 40 years. We can live to see the final demise of Islam, the opening up of the mission field in India and the conversion of China to the faith. So many social and cultural trends we take for granted as permanent fixtures have no guarantee of such endurance for they are at most the fruits of human ingenuity and the machinations of principalities and powers. We....we on the other hand for all our faults are guided by the very Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life.

So how can we doubt that all these creatures will fade away but His Word will never fade away?










gob said...

"Go get yourself an outfit and be a cowboy too."

TJM said...

A second thought: If Zagano saw a woman in a cassock she would go into ecstacy and write an entirely different article!

Dialogue said...

Since I'm repulsed by the look of hippies, cross-dressers, butch women, visible tattoos, men with an earring, LCWR nuns, Canadians and their hockey jerseys, etc., I'm prepared to tolerate Modernist and lukewarm Catholics who despise priests who look and live like clergymen. I'm very tolerant that way.

Jan said...

I know a number of priests who wear cassocks and it is the outward sign that they are priests in every sense of the word. From my experience, the mufti-wearing priest is the one more likely to be at the golf club or off somewhere surfing. Incognito they can get away with anything. Most wear simple well-washed cassocks too and simple shoes.

Anonymous said...

WHAT IS WRONG WITH A PRIEST PLAYING GOLF OR SURFING/
THE CLOTHES DO NOT MAKE A PRIEST. DO YOU THINK GOD CARES WHAT
PEOPLE WEAR OR IS IT MORE IMPORTANT TO HIM THE WORK THEY DO. HOW SILLY TO SAY INCOGNITO THEY CAN GET AWAY WITH ANYTHING. YOU IMPLY THAT TO KEEP HOLY THEY HAVE TO WEAR CASSOCKS. DO YOU THINK JESUS WORE A CASSOCK OR A FANCY ROBE. JESUS FOUND MANY FOLLOWERS BY THE OCEAN. PERHAPS THE SURFER PRIEST COULD SEEM HUMAN TO YOUNG PEOPLE AND THEY MIGHT CALL HIM FRIEND. IN FACT MY PRIEST SURFS IN AMELIA ISLAND..... AND HE HAS MANY SERVICES INCLUDING BAPTISM IN THE OCEAN...
SO THE CLOTHES THEY WEAR COULD CAUSE THEM TO SNEAK OFF AND PLAY GOLD OR SURF
HOW SIMPLY SILLY