Tuesday, January 2, 2018

US CATHOLIC AND FR. DONALD COZZENS TAKE ON CLERICALISM SOME OF WHICH IS GOOD AND SOME OF WHICH IS FROM THE BAD OLD 1970'S!

Our bishop has sent this article to our priests and seminarians for us to discuss in terms of its merits and deficits. So I post the link for you to read the article and some of the auther's opinions on clericalism some of which I agree and other things I don't agree. It seems he wants to continue to erode priestly identity that creates more problems, some pathological, than it solves. But you can read it and decide for yourself. Much off it is what I was formed by in the 1970's seminary. Out of a class of 60 in 1976 only 22 of us were ordained in 1980. Today there are less than 10 of us in active ministry. Loss of a strong and healthy priestly identity is to blame, a foundation of which was shifting sands of the 1970's.

Don't put priests on a pedestal

Clericalism is crippling the pastoral mission of the church. 

By Father Donald Cozzens 
....Here’s how I see it: Clericalism is an attitude found in many (but not all) clergy who put their status as priests and bishops above their status as baptized disciples of Jesus Christ. In doing so, a sense of privilege and entitlement emerges in their individual and collective psyche. This, in turn, breeds a corps of ecclesiastical elites who think they’re unlike the rest of the faithful.

Clergy caught up in this kind of purple-hued seduction are incapable of seeing that it freezes their humanity—their ability to simply connect on a human level with the various sorts of God’s holy people. Of all the sour fruits of clericalism, this inability to connect with others might be the most damaging. When the ordained come across as somehow superior to their parishioners and people they encounter, the playing field is tilted. This kind of disconnect can be fatal to a priest’s efforts to build a sense of community in his parish.

It’s often difficult for parishioners to feel comfortable with a clerical priest. They simply don’t find “Father” approachable. The same can be said of bishops who are all too comfortable thinking of themselves as princes by divine selection. They connect neither with their priests nor with the people they’re meant to shepherd. You won’t find the smell of the sheep on them.

Often that’s exactly what clergy caught up in clericalism want: They believe a certain distance from the nonordained is fitting and right. Of course, priests need not be chummy with their parishioners; the pastor-parishioner relationship requires maturity and prudence on the part of the ordained. Most pastors are all too aware of the smothering demands of some of their flock. Without question, they need to safeguard their privacy and find time when they are, so to speak, “off the clock.” But clericalism by its nature exaggerates this need. Without fail, it breeds artificiality and superficiality between pastors and parishioners. Though often unnamed, something real is missing.

Clerical priests and bishops (and yes, clerical deacons) come to see their power to confer sacraments, to preach, and to teach as the bedrock of their identity. When this happens they lose sight of the truth that the church’s power is ultimately the power of the Holy Spirit. Without words, they seem to say, “We are clergy and you’re not.”

So what can we do to end clericalism? The following steps should excise the cancer, or at least put clericalism into remission:
  1. Bishops, priests, and deacons are called by the gospel—and by Pope Francis—to see discipleship and service as foundational to ordained ministry. Baptism confers all the dignity they need. Many clergy get this. Many still do not. So let our seminaries teach candidates for the priesthood that baptismal discipleship rooted in prayer is the foundation of priestly ministry.
  2. Some clergy insist on being addressed with their title, Father or Monsignor. And some prelates insist on their courtly honorifics, Excellency or Eminence. Titles have their place, but we shouldn’t insist on them. We might smile at a layperson who insists on being called Mister, Doctor, Professor, or Judge. Calling a physician Doctor is appropriate in the consulting room or hospital, and addressing a pastor as Father is likewise appropriate in parish settings. But most people wince when an individual insists on always being addressed by his or her title.
  3. Mandated celibacy needs to be revisited. It’s true that we also find clericalism in the married clergy of Eastern rite Catholic and Orthodox churches. But the inherent burdens of celibacy lead some clergy to a sense of entitlement and privilege, hallmarks of clericalism.
But, some will argue, isn’t the critique of clericalism an attack on the priesthood? .....


41 comments:

Fr Martin Fox said...

Oh bosh!

Let's look at all the ways he's wrong.

...clergy who put their status as priests and bishops above their status as baptized disciples of Jesus Christ.

Except that this is contrary to the Church's theology and tradition of Holy Orders. Holy Orders imparts an indelible mark on the soul, and effects an ontological change in the person. Further, Holy Orders is expressly about participating in the person of Christ the head of the Church.

Perhaps what Father means to say is that clergy shouldn't lord it over the laity. Fine; say that; but this statement is wrong.

...breeds a corps of ecclesiastical elites who think they’re unlike the rest of the faithful.

Well, guess what? Clergy are, indeed, "unlike the rest of the faithful." Maybe that's bad, maybe that's good. But whatever it is, it is indubitably true, circa AD 2017. It would take too long to go through Canon Law, as well as particular law for my own diocese, to show how this is true. But as it stands, the sacrament itself, and the laws of the Church, entrust the priest with powers and responsibilities that are not entrusted to the laity. Bishops and priests can grant absolution and confect the Holy Eucharist. Is Father Cozzens under the impression that all the faithful can do these things?

Further, I might point out that in the age of accountability and avoidance of scandal, demands are made of bishops and priests that are not made of the laity. Again, right or wrong, this is a fact. This is a function both of explicit requirements imposed on clerics, and the necessary inferences from the present, guilty-until-proven-innocent legal environment.

Clerical priests and bishops (and yes, clerical deacons) come to see their power to confer sacraments, to preach, and to teach as the bedrock of their identity.

Yes, with impeccable reasons. Why do you think we're called priests, Father Cozzens? I am sure Father Cozzens didn't mean to sound more than a bit...Lutheran there.

They [i.e., the faithful] simply don’t find “Father” approachable. The same can be said of bishops who are all too comfortable thinking of themselves as princes by divine selection. They connect neither with their priests nor with the people they’re meant to shepherd. You won’t find the smell of the sheep on them.

More bosh. First, the faithful -- in my experience at least -- generally want to call their priests "father." Second, whether a priest is approachable has nothing to do with whether he's called "father," or with the Church's theology of Holy Orders, involving an ontological change and a distinct participation in the priesthood of Christ. Third, Fr. Cozzen's choice of "shepherd" imagery is poorly chosen; because in real life, there is a vast gulf between a shepherd belonging to the species homo sapiens and sheep belonging to the species ovis aries; and nothing can change that gulf.

And, no, I am not claiming such a gulf does, or ought to, exist between clergy and laity. I'm just pointing out the perils of Father Cozzen's chosen analogy -- which, of course, comes from our Divine Lord -- who, by the way, is indeed separated from us "sheep" by a vast gulf, yet he is, indeed, "approachable." So Fr. Cozzen's whole argument falls apart, it seems to me.

Bishops, priests, and deacons are called by the gospel—and by Pope Francis—to see discipleship and service as foundational to ordained ministry.

When I was in the seminary, I was taught that Catholic theology is often not about either/or, but both/and. So why can't priesthood be both about unique responsibility and sacramental "power," and about "discipleship and service"? Why does Fr. Cozzens insist on pitting them against each other?

Baptism confers all the dignity they need.

So, the sacrament of Holy Orders is superfluous?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

While there are truisms in this article, I concur with your critique of it, Fr. Fox, and would be concerned with seminarians or newly ordained thinking this is a good article because it is suggested for discussion.

Mark Thomas said...

"And some prelates insist on their courtly honorifics, Excellency or Eminence. Titles have their place, but we shouldn’t insist on them."

Why?
===============================================================

"...addressing a pastor as Father is likewise appropriate in parish settings."

What about outside parish settings? Would it be inappropriate then to address a Pastor as Father?

Pax.

Mark Thomas

James J. said...


"Baptism confers all the dignity they need."

Let's see...so a Catholic priest is no different from say, a Methodist minister ..who has been validly baptized according to the form and matter the Catholic Church accepts...but of course(unlike the priest) has not been sacramentally ordained?

The steps to end "clericalism" Father Couzens suggests sound to me like a critique of the Roman Catholic priesthood from someone outside of the Church.

I agree with the comments of Father Fox.

TJM said...

Cozzens is a lefty so why post his nonsense? I was never impressed with him and he is the poster boy for off the rails Catholicism

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Fr. McDonald's post contains a very small portion of the article our bishop has asked us to discuss at upcoming deanery meetings.

Cozzens is not "wrong" about some priests who think their status as members of the clergy puts them above the baptized. As a priest I serve in a particular way, a way to which the Church has called me and commissioned me to do as a co-worker of the bishop. My ordination does not put me "above" the Baptized. It makes me their servant-leader. Ontological changes notwithstanding, the Baptized share equal dignity with the Ordained. (Isn't an ontological change effected through Baptism?)

As clergy we are BOTH/AND - Like AND unlike the rest of the faithful. As St. Augustine succinctly stated this reality: "For you I am a bishop; with you I am a Christian."

Cozzens in no way says or suggests that the faithful can grant absolution or confect the Eucharist. In no way does he say of suggest the Sacrament of Holy Orders is superfluous.

Cozzens points out that SOME priests find in their ordination the justification for a "sense of privilege and entitlement." Yes, some do. "Father" gets to eat first. "Father" should be in clerical attire for his drivers license so when he gets stopped for speeding he'll be given a pass by the police officer or state trooper. Father "deserves" the best car, the finest dining, tailored clothes, etc., because, after all, he is an ontologically changed confector of the Eucharist.

I have known, mercifully, only a few priests who suffered from the kind of clericalist attitudes Cozzens warns about. Frequently, but by no means always, they come from cultural backgrounds where priests are treated as demigods.

There's a powerful scene in the movie "Guilt" in which the contrast between the rectory dining table and the convent dining table is highlighted. The "Fathers" are dining on steak, drinking wine, and puffing cigars. The sisters, at the convent next door, are enjoying a simple meal of porridge, sans claret and tobacco.

The article is worth considering. The WHOLE article.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

If you press the title of Couzzin’s article it links you to the complete article. While there is some good in the article it has some fatal flaws. It is like a superb priest in all things but molestrd one teenager. He has to be thrown out. Same with not one hit multiple flaws in this article. We need someone else to write a more credible article.

John Nolan said...

When I was a very small boy I wanted to be a priest, because I assumed it would be the best way to get to heaven. Ex ore infantium ...

The sacrifice involved in becoming a priest or a religious is considerable. It means relinquishing marriage and normal family life; for a female religious it means relinquishing motherhood. This has to be balanced against the gain, which is spiritual, and, yes, clerical.

Vatican II taught that there was no distinction - the whole 'people of God' were equally sanctified. The loss/gain equation no longer applied. The result was a massive exodus from the priestly and religious life.

Fr Martin Fox said...

I am sympathetic with Fr. Kavanaugh's desire to ride to the rescue of Fr. Cozzens, but I'm afraid Fr. K. -- or should I say "Mike"? -- doesn't offer much to get Fr. Cozzens out of his difficulties, as Fr. Cozzen's statements, above, are very hard to reconcile with explicit Catholic teaching. I happen to think it's not a question of explicitly rejecting Catholic teaching, so much as woolly-headed thinking, which was all the rage in the 1970s and 80s, and seems to be enjoying a flurry of nostalgia at the moment.

John Nolan:

I'm not sure how to unravel your latest comments. Holy Orders is not about sanctifying the recipient of that sacrament. It is about being a close collaborator with Christ in sanctifying others.

And, while I am glad you had such noble aspirations as a boy, I hope you realize, now, that being a priest is not, and never was, "the best way to get to heaven." This isn't something new. Look at the Gospels. Jesus said: "to whom much is given, much will be required..."

The point of being a priest, or entering religious life, is Christ himself. Again, in the Gospels, Jesus singled out particular people and called them to a particular way to follow him. He did not tell everyone to sell everything and follow him. He did not tell everyone they would be apostles. Some people are called to this life, and nothing will make them happier.

rcg said...

The article seemed almost nonsequeture to its premise, disembling the idea od clericalism to avoid the resposibilities and burdens of a priest

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Cozzens is an aging 1970's dinosaur who should go into the sunset quietly.

John Nolan said...

Fr Fox

The point I was making was raised by a (non-Catholic) sociologist in an article which I cannot now retrieve. He was attempting to account for the massive haemorrhage from the priesthood and religious life in the wake of Vatican II.

Forty years ago one of my work colleagues was a former Benedictine. He had got as far as deacon's Orders before leaving and getting married. I remember his telling me that he did not become a monk 'to sit in a circle reading psalms out of Penguin books' which is what the Divine Office had degenerated to before the Council had even finished.

Anonymous said...

Nice vestments---where was the picture for this post taken?

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Martin, what explicit teaching(s) do you think Cozzens is at odds with?

TJM said...

Kavanaugh and Cozzens are birds of a feather, left-wing, that is. In my experience with priests in my lifetime (hundreds), the more liberal, the more autocratic and condescending with literally no sense of the irony between their views and behavior. One priest who posts here appears to fit that bill nicely.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Father Kavanaugh:

See my original comment. I highlight problems there.

Fr Martin Fox said...

John Nolan:

There's no question that the so-called "renewal" of religious life has been a disaster of epic proportions.

Maybe religious life would have declined no matter what. I think you can make that argument by citing the dramatic changes taking place in the larger society, which always affect the Church no matter what. But given the disastrous decline in religious life, it's hard to see how it could have been worse than it was. And the movements that are now growing are not embracing the prevailing mode of "renewal."

johnnyc said...

Bishops, priests, and deacons are called by the gospel — 'and by Pope Francis' — to see discipleship and service as foundational to ordained ministry.

https://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2018/01/important-bishop-athanasius-schneider.html

Second, they have to bear in mind that the Pope is not the creator of the truth, of the faith and of the sacramental discipline of the Church. The Pope and the entire Magisterium “is not above the Word of God, but serves it, teaching only what has been handed on” (Second Vatican Council, Dei Verbum, 10). The First Vatican Council taught that the charism of the ministry of the successors of Peter “does not mean that they might make known some new doctrine, but that, by the assistance of the Holy Spirit, they might religiously guard and faithfully expound the revelation or deposit of faith transmitted by the apostles” (Pastor aeternus, chap. 4).

Third, the Pope cannot be the focal point of the daily life of the faith of a Catholic faithful. The focal point must instead be Christ. Otherwise, we become victims of an insane pope-centrism or of a kind of popalatry, an attitude which is alien to the tradition of the Apostles, of the Church Fathers and of the greater tradition of the Church.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Martin - I read your original comment. In it you did not express any explicit teaching that Cozzens is at odds with.

You expressed a discomfort with the way Cozzens expressed himself.

Then, you concluded that Cozzens does not believe that ordination imparts an indelible mark on the man ordained. You concluded that Cozzens thinks the laity can absolve sin and confect the Eucharist. You concluded that Cozzens thinks the Sacrament of Holy Orders is superfluous. Cozzens says none of these things nor, to my way of thinking, does he suggest these things.

Your conclusions do not reflect what Cozzens actually wrote.

Can you state the explicit teachings that Cozzens is at odds with based on what Cozzens has written, not on what you conclude he is thinking?



John Nolan said...

The photograph of the ordination was taken at Blackfriars, Oxford. The deacon on the right is now a priest - last Sunday he celebrated the EF Mass at Holy Trinity, Hethe.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Father Kavanaugh:

Father Cozzens, in his woolly-headed article, calls into question whether Holy Orders imparts anything to men to make them different from when they were baptized:

"...a corps of ecclesiastical elites who think they’re unlike the rest of the faithful."

Either he believes that all the baptized can confect the Eucharist and absolve sins -- or else he denies that priests and bishops apparently doing so is an actual difference. Ordained or not-ordained -- no difference.

Because it is incoherent to think that person A -- who can confect the Eucharist and absolve sins -- is not "unlike" person B who cannot do these things.

Similarly, Father Cozzens also calls into question the actual teaching of the Church that a priest is in persona Christi capitis:

..clergy who put their status as priests and bishops above their status as baptized disciples of Jesus Christ.

In my experience -- both in biology class and in actual human interaction -- the "head" ("capitis") is usually "above" the rest of the body.

And, by the way, Christ himself is "above" the rest of the Mystical Body, and a priest is configured to Christ as head. Hence bishops exercise the teaching office of the Church -- by virtue of Holy Orders, not by virtue of baptism. Priests exercise the power of the keys in union with the bishops, again, by virtue of Holy Orders, not by virtue of baptism.

Of course, it is Father Cozzens who creates an either/or: either you are "above" (boo! bad!) or you are "approachable." In his woolly-headedness, he seems incapable of supposing that it can be both/and: Those with Holy Orders are, by virtue of that very sacrament, BOTH "above" and "unlike," AND also they imitate Christ the Head, to whom they are configured...by Holy Orders in a particular way...also to be with the faithful and serve them.

Woolly-headed Father Cozzens says that if the priest is "above" and "unlike," then he cannot be approachable and "connect on a human level." So, question for you, Father Kavanaugh:

Jesus Christ is "above" and "unlike," yes? So following Father Cozzens, Jesus Christ cannot then be "approachable" and cannot "connect on a human level." Do you agree that Jesus Christ is not "approachable" and cannot "connect on a human level"? This is Father Cozzen's either/or, which you persist in defending. Please apply it to Jesus, who is the priest par excellence.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Martin - Thank you for your response.

Cozzens, in saying that the clergy are not "unlike" the laity, does not call into question the necessity of ordination for the conferral of the power to absolve sins or confect the Eucharist.

His statement, and I quote, "This, in turn, breeds a corps of ecclesiastical elites who think they’re unlike the rest of the faithful." follows this sentence, "In doing so, a sense of privilege and entitlement emerges in their individual and collective psyche."

Clearly Cozzens is referring to that sense of privilege and entitlement, not to the necessity of ordination for the celebration of the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist.

As to the head being above the body, I won't take your comment lying down, when, of course, the head is parallel with the body. Nor will I stick my head in the theological sand when, of course, the head is lower than the body.

Is one member of the body more important than another? "The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!"

As you and I stand in persona Christi, we do so as servants, ordained to teach, preach, and to pray. We are not called to orders so that we can claim some superior status or demand some kind of deference from the people we serve.

Jesus Christ is God. You and I, mere priests, are not. I don't think the comparison is apt.

A priest who thinks of himself as above or superior, someone with privilege or entitlement, to the people he is called to serve may be unapproachable. Jesus never is, not because He is psychologically more mature or because He has a better understanding of his role, but because He is God.

Note, also, that Cozzens is not saying or suggesting that every priest who understands his specific role as a minister of the altar and as an alter Christus is unapproachable. It is those who see ordination as the bestowal of privilege and entitlement that may fall into that trap.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

In a public forum to call Fr. Fox, Martin and intentionally so is an act of arrogance and thus a form of clericalism. Would you do that to your biological father or mother? Clericalism is looking down one’s nose at others. That is why I say academics fall prey to a more virulent form of clericalism even if not ordained. Our academic institutions are filled with clericalism as are our political institutions.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Fr. Kavanaugh:

Cozzens, in saying that the clergy are not "unlike" the laity, does not call into question the necessity of ordination for the conferral of the power to absolve sins or confect the Eucharist.

If those with Holy Orders are not "unlike" those without, then Holy Orders changes nothing. A hamburger without cheese is undeniably "unlike" a hamburger with cheese. The only way they can be "like" is if they are the same.

So either Father Cozzens denies Holy Orders changes the one ordained, or else he considers the change insignificant, or else -- as I suspect -- on this subject his head is full of wool.

By definition, one with Holy Orders is, indeed, "unlike" someone without. Not utterly "unlike," but "unlike" in the sense of not being undifferentiated. There is an actual, real and significant change.

Do you believe Holy Orders changes a man, such that he is different what he was before?

It's a yes or a no question. Which?

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

How silly of me. I thought his name was Martin.

Bean said...

Hey Father McDonald, I guess you're gonna make Gene and TJM stop referring to him as "Kavanaugh" now, right? After all, this is a "public forum," isn't it?

Not to do so would be arrogant and a sign of your clericalism, no?

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Martin, the context of Cozzens' comments, which I noted above, indicates that your conclusion that he does not believe in the ontological change effected by ordination is incorrect.

He was not speaking of ontological change. Here is the context again: "In doing so, a sense of privilege and entitlement emerges in their individual and collective psyche. This, in turn, breeds a corps of ecclesiastical elites who think they’re unlike the rest of the faithful."

The "unlike" he writes about has nothing to do with the change brought about by ordination, but about the attitude some clergy develop which leads them to think that ordination gives them privilege and entitlement. If that clericalist attitude exists, it is wooly-headed, at best.

The next time you and your confreres gather around a table for a meeting or a meal, note how unlike you all are. While all possess the grace of Holy Orders, some are well-read and others are not. Some maintain their health by proper diet and exercise, others do not. Some are gifted homilists who look forward to the opportunity to preach, while others dread the experience weekly.

How can you and your brother priests be "like" if, in fact, you are so different?

You see, just as the differences you will note at that gathering have nothing whatsoever to do with anyone's ontological change. And the "unlikeness" written of by Cozzens has nothing to do with it either.

Don't you think that priests can be "like" an "unlike" each other at the same time, and doesn't that "unlikeness" have nothing to do with our ontological state?

It's a yes or a no question. Which?

Fr Martin Fox said...

Fr Kavanaugh:

When you resort to filibustering while avoiding a direct and clear question, then you've given the game away.

I have no problem with allowing for variety among priests, and among and between clergy and laity. I never saw any problem. Viva le difference!

Rather, it was Fr. Cozzens who denies that there is any "unlikeness" between clergy and laity, precisely as a result of receiving Holy Orders. That was foolish of him to say that, and foolish of you to defend it. If Holy Orders changes a man, then there is, by necessity, "unlikeness."

But you keep insisting, on his behalf, that difference and distinction is "clericalism." He insisted that being "unlike" is antithetical to a right understanding of priesthood. I did not hoist him or you on that petard, he did that to himself, and you joined him.

So I ask again, does Holy Orders change a man, yes or no?

If it changes him -- defined Church teaching -- then a man with Holy Orders, by definition, is "unlike" a man without Holy Orders.

Now, as I said at the outset, Fr. Cozzens is expressing himself badly. You could have simply agreed with me, and saved us both a lot of trouble. Why didn't you?

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Martin - When you resort to asking a question, the answer to which I have given time and time again, you give away the game.

Also, when you resort to turning the conversation from Fr. Cozzens to Fr. Kavanaugh, you have given the game away.

To continue the game, Cozzens does not deny that there is ANY unlikeness between clergy and laity. The statement he made is in the context of privileges and entitlement.

I have never insisted that difference and/or distinction is clericalism. I have, with Cozzens, insisted that believing that ordination gives one privileges and entitlement is clericalism.

I didn't agree with you because I don't think Cozzens has expressed himself badly. Why is that not obvious?

Fr Martin Fox said...

Martin - When you resort to asking a question, the answer to which I have given time and time again, you give away the game.

No, Father, you have not given that answer. I asked for a "yes" or a "no." I concede that you have, in a blizzard of words, used both the words "yes" or "no" multiple times; but I do not concede that you have attached either "yes" or "no" to the specific question I asked.

But since you have found this so onerous, I will make it easy. I will complete the form for you:

Q1: Does Holy Orders change a man? Yes < > No. ("X" placed by Father Fox on behalf of Fr. Kavanaugh.)

Let us proceed to second question:

Q2: Is man-who-is-thus-changed now "unlike" -- aka, "different -- from what he was before? Yes < > No. ("X" placed by Father Fox on behalf of Fr. Kavanaugh.)

Now we proceed to the resolution of the syllogism:

Ergo: a man changed by Holy Orders (Q1) is, in fact, "unlike" (Q2) a man not changed by Holy Orders.

There. You are relieved of the onerous task of actually saying those things yourself. I'm glad to make your life easier.

I have never insisted that difference and/or distinction is clericalism. I have, with Cozzens, insisted that believing that ordination gives one privileges and entitlement is clericalism. (bolding added)

That -- what I just bolded -- is what Fr. Cozzens should have said. How many times and how many ways must I say this? But this is not what he actually said:

...breeds a corps of ecclesiastical elites who think they’re unlike the rest of the faithful.

They are, indeed, "unlike the rest of the faithful." (See Q1, Q2 and conclusion above.) That's what ontological change means. So they are correct in thinking what happens to be true; and they would be mad to deny that truth.

But no worries! That they are "unlike" does not necessarily imply anything else. It does not equal "privileges and entitlement." Get that? It can lead to it, indeed. But it need not.

See? I just fixed Fr. Cozzen's fuzzy argument you have toiled so hard to defend.

And there remains the matter of Fr. Cozzens -- again with sloppy language (reflecting sloppy thinking perhaps) insisting that Holy Orders adds no dignity that the recipient "needs." Yes, that's what he said:

Baptism confers all the dignity they need.

False. Baptism confers lots of things, including immeasurable "dignity." But it absolutely does not confer the dignity of being conformed to the person of Christ as head of the Church. And the priest absolutely "needs" this added dignity. This specific dignity is what enables a priest to confect the Eucharist and absolve sinners. Either a priest needs this additional dignity -- or else this additional dignity is superfluous.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Yes, Martin, I have. Asking it over and over will not alter my response.

How many time must I say this: Cozzens did not say what you say he said. You are reading into his words what is not there.

He said "Here’s how I see it: Clericalism is an attitude found in many (but not all) clergy who put their status as priests and bishops above their status as baptized disciples of Jesus Christ. In doing so, a sense of privilege and entitlement emerges in their individual and collective psyche. This, in turn, breeds a corps of ecclesiastical elites who think they’re unlike the rest of the faithful."

Please note he is speaking about privilege and entitlement, not ontological change. It's simply not there. You argue that he IMPLIES that there is no ontological difference. I'd say he doesn't. I prefer to take a man at his word, not what I THINK his word MIGHT mean.

Priests are NOT right when they think that their unlikeness means privilege and entitlement. That's what Cozzens writes. He does not write what you say.

Baptism confers what the laity need. (He doesn't say ALL that the laity need, so don't accuse him of that. He doesn't say that graces that comes after Baptism are superfluous, so don't accuse him of that.)

Fr Martin Fox said...

Dear Father Kavanaugh:

I keep quoting Father Cozzens directly, and you keep saying, "Cozzens did not say what you say he said." Yet who produces actual quotes, in order to prove his point? I do. Not you. You, rather, must restate him in order to fix his sloppy statements.

For example, you claim that he says:

Baptism confers what the laity need. (He doesn't say ALL that the laity need, so don't accuse him of that. He doesn't say that graces that comes after Baptism are superfluous, so don't accuse him of that.)

But let's go to Fr. Cozzen's actual words, not your fix-em-up restatement. Precisely, let's see what he means when he says, "Baptism confers all the dignity they need." The question is, who is "they" in that sentence? You claim it's "the laity." But let's see what Fr. Cozzen actually said:

So what can we do to end clericalism? The following steps should excise the cancer, or at least put clericalism into remission: Bishops, priests, and deacons are called by the gospel—and by Pope Francis—to see discipleship and service as foundational to ordained ministry. Baptism confers all the dignity they need. Many clergy get this. Many still do not.

See that? I bolded the key words: "bishops, priests and deacons"..."ordained"..."clergy."

He was talking about ordained ministers when he said, "baptism confers all the dignity they need." And that is false. Ordained ministers need additional "dignity," (and other things going with it), from the sacrament of Holy Orders.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Fr. Kavanaugh:

Oh, and here's why your calling me "Martin" can be clerical.

Just to be clear, I don't care what you call me. Call me "Martin," call me Awesome, call me "Hey stupid," I don't care. That isn't actually what's rude, when priests call each other, in public, by their first names.

What's rude is that it's a signal -- and not a very subtle one -- the laity. They don't call their priests* by their first names. Even if some do, most don't. Maybe that's good, maybe that's bad; but it is the current state of affairs in most places.

So when you have a group of people, clergy and lay, and the laity -- from their courtesy and gratitude and devotion -- calling a priest in their midst "father," and then you have another priest, in the same situation, calling the priest "Joe" or "Mike" or "Martin," it's another way of saying, "see, laity? I have this privilege; you don't!"

I don't make people call me "Father"; people want to, and that's fine. It's a good thing. But there are people who don't have to. Family, friends. I don't expect it. But one thing many of them do -- when they are with others who don't have that familiarity, they will then call me "Father." They do that as a courtesy to the others present, who don't have that familiarity.

There are priests of a certain age who react like scalded cats if another priest calls them "Father." That absolutely baffles me. It is a sign of respect for the laity for priests to do that; and it is an act of humility on the part of the priest who addresses his brother priest that way.

I don't know you, so I don't really know why you call me by my first name. Maybe you're one who insists everyone call you "Michael" -- although you've never told me that. So it seems curious that you allow laity to call you "Father," and you don't object to them calling me "Father" -- but you won't do it yourself. Why is that?

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Yes, Martin, I have posted direct quotes.

From 5 January 6:56 p.m.: ""Here’s how I see it: Clericalism is an attitude found in many (but not all) clergy who put their status as priests and bishops above their status as baptized disciples of Jesus Christ. In doing so, a sense of privilege and entitlement emerges in their individual and collective psyche. This, in turn, breeds a corps of ecclesiastical elites who think they’re unlike the rest of the faithful."

From 4 January 6:30: His statement, and I quote, "This, in turn, breeds a corps of ecclesiastical elites who think they’re unlike the rest of the faithful." follows this sentence, "In doing so, a sense of privilege and entitlement emerges in their individual and collective psyche."



Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Martin, I misread the quote regarding the dignity conferred by Baptism. Yes, Cozzens is referring to the clergy.

In the context of this article, Cozzens is not talking about ontological change. He is talking about the wooly-headed notion some clergy have the ordination confers on them a dignity that is superior to that of the laity. As a result of this wooly-headed notion about sacramental superiority, some clergy expect or seek privileges and entitlements due to their "superior" status.

This is rank clericalism. Nowhere does Cozzens say or suggest that laity can hear confessions or confect the Eucharist. Nowhere does Cozzens say or suggest that ordination is superfluous.



Fr Martin Fox said...

Fr. Kavanaugh:

Nowhere does Cozzens say or suggest that ordination is superfluous.

Fr. Cozzens:

Baptism confers all the dignity they [i.e., ordained ministers] need.

So again, we have actual words by Fr. Cozzens, stating -- sloppily and wrongly -- that the totality ("all") the "dignity" a Catholic bishop, priest or deacon "needs" comes from baptism.

Meanwhile, we have Father Kavanaugh's rapid-response clean-up effort, telling us, no, he didn't say that...he didn't mean that...what he really means is...

Contra Father Cozzens own words, baptism does not, in fact, "confer all the dignity" ordained ministers "need." They need additional dignity conferred via Holy Orders.

Heck, they also need the dignity conferred by confirmation too! (As do the laity.) Yes, need. Hence there are three sacraments of initiation, not one; and in an emergency, an infant or newborn should be baptised and confirmed. Baptism is necessary in a way that confirmation is not; yet confirmation is still needed. So there's yet another problem with Fr. Cozzen's mess of a column.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Martin - You are adding what you THINK it really means.

Cozzens says: "Baptism confers all the dignity they [i.e., ordained ministers] need."

You take that one sentence out of context - the context being that some clergy think that ordination gives them a superior status that entitles them to special privileges - and claim that Cozzens denies the necessity of ordination for conferring the power to absolve sins and confect the Eucharist.

That's not what Cozzens has said and you do not have the ability to read his mind to be able to tell us what he REALLY means.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Father Kavanaugh:

Just as thought experiment, let's ignore everything we've disagreed with till now.
We have just this statement:

Baptism confers all the dignity they [i.e., ordained ministers] need.

That statement -- apart from the bracketed phrase, which you concede is accurate -- is 100% Cozzens. And as it stands, it is false. It is contrary to Catholic teaching. The "all" and "dignity" and "need" are all incorrect.

You challenged me to demonstrate anything Fr. Cozzens said that is at odds with Catholic teaching and there it is.

Did he really mean to contradict Catholic teaching? I doubt it; at least, I hope not. But as you keep saying, I "do not have the ability to read his mind" -- so I simply read his words:

Baptism confers all the dignity they [i.e., ordained ministers] need.

That statement, as it stands, is false.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Martin - Sorry, I can't leave aside the error you have made by reading into Cozzens what Cozzens has not said.

In the context of what the article actually says, not what you think Cozzens means, his statement about the dignity of Baptism does not contradict Catholic teaching.

I suspect we could take a single sentence out of context from any Sainted theologian and, by reading into it or extrapolating from it what is not in the text, conclude that the author contradicts Church teaching.

Cozzens statement, "Baptism confers all the dignity they [i.e., ordained ministers] need." in the context of the whole article is not false and does not contradict Church teaching.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Fr. Kavanaugh:

What you call "reading into" amounted to me actually quoting him. When quoting someone becomes unfair to the one quoted, well, somethings wrong here and it ain't me.

And with that, I will let you have the last word.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Martin - If you were quoting Cozzens about the superfluity of ordination, you would have to find those or similar words in what he has written,

They are not there.

If you were quoting Cozzens about the laity being able to absolve sin and confect the Eucharist, you would have to find those or similar words in what he has written.

They are not there.

I sincerely doubt that you think that, because you are ordained and, therefore, not "like" the laity, you are entitled to privileges that the laity are not. I don't think you would ever use your collar to obtain some favor from a business owner, to get out of a speeding ticket, or to bypass the waiting line for a table in a restaurant. I doubt you would ever act in a cavalier way concerning the funds of the parish you serve.

This is what Cozzens is talking about. Had he wanted to dissent from the Church regarding the effects of ordination, I suspect he would have done so.

This is the