In a talk at Villanova University, Jesuit Fr. Hans Zollner said that clericalism is the root cause of the damage done to the church; he called out past systemic failure in stopping abuse.
When I was growing up both clergy and religious were placed on pedestals and given a pass because it was thought they were heterosexual, committed to celibate chastity which might make them moody here and there. Those of us in Catholic education saw the good, bad and ugly of religious sisters and brothers and we could discriminate about those who were nice or not nice. I don’t think, though, anyone thought a priest, brother or sister would sexually abuse someone and we wouldn’t believe it if a peer told us they had been.
I don’t know if that is clericalism or not. I think we would attribute these attitudes to teachers, law enforcement and doctors and nurses. We were naive in those days about the inner workings of all of these professions, including Church professions.
The Church used legal procedures confirmed by USA law to make legal agreements with silence/confidentiality clauses. This was legal. Is that clericalism and who is to blame, civil law or the Church and her canon laws?
It is relatively recent law that members of the clergy must report sex abuse if not heard within the context of Confession. In Georgia, it became a law shortly after I was ordained in 1980.
The age of consent has changed too. Southern culture in which I grew up saw girls getting married with parental permission at 13, 14 and older. My next door neighbor’s daughter in the early 1960’s got married to an older man when she was 16 but was dating him for a couple of years before that. Premarital sex was not unknown back then either.
I think there are still a few states that allow 13 year olds to marry and now with same sex civil marriage I guess that applies to boys marrying men?
What about that? Is that clericalism.
I think that the modern sex abuse scandal was exacerbated by the liberal reforms of the Church in general and the priesthood in particular.
But there is something more insidious which Pope Francis seems to be recovering—the idea that the Church can bring about the kingdom of God on earth, a rash 1970’s theology based on eschatology.
We can bring about healing in people’s lives and every person is capable of healing and the “wounded healer” is the best. (1970’s thinking here).
Thus the Church which was suspicious of psychology prior to Vatican II embraced it enthusiastically afterwards. The “I’m okay, you’re okay” mantra infiltrated the Church and our Catholic schools. Pop psychology.
This was coupled with unlimited forgiving and second chances but not informing people who might be scandalized. Perhaps clericalism is the infantilization of the laity. Yes, indeed, prior to Vatican II this infantilization of the laity was on steroids. After Vatican II, there was a shift to lay empowerment and decision making but at the same time, clerical sexual abuse accelerated.
The greatest aspect of this clericalism was the fact that bishops sent priests time and time again for treatment for sexual perversions only to return them to ministry time and time again either in a new parish or new diocese.
And the Catholic psychiatric community made a mint on in residence treatment of these miscreants. And they convinced the bishops to do it, time and time again.
And the laity were not informed even though priests, such as Fr. Eugene Walsh and others, were calling the Catholic laity to become adults and not remain like children in the 1970’s.
The bishops are at fault here for abdicating their responsibility to psychiatry.
But we still put priests on pedestals, but this time, not because of a presumed holiness but because of quirks of personality displayed at Mass and other venues. The cult of the personality lives on today but in an even sicker way.
And the Post Vatican II Mass, with the priest front and center, facing the congregation and allowing his acting skills and personality to overwhelm the Mass is the culprit.