My comments in red within the chismatic text:
Clericalism puts the focus on careerism, not ministryPhyllis 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 piña 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!