Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Jamie Manson Hits A Homerun.

This is taken from Catholica. AU.  Australia is another Western country where the laity may have had enough.  Tom McMahon is an American married priest whose essays in Catholica.Au are well worth reading.

This is a solid, powerful statement from someone who is tired of the way things are progressing in the Church.  I wish I had written it, but brothers and sisters, it sure does give voice to my own insight and anger.  And yes, some of that anger is self directed.  The entire NCR article is here.

..........The St. Patrick’s saga is but one example of the fascinating fear that many Catholics seem to have of calling church leaders to accountability the way they would elected officials, educators, and other non-clerical folk. This double standard that Catholics have in dealing with the clergy, I believe, is a result of the internalized clericalism that the laity inherited as part of their Catholic inculcation. (especially us cradle Catholics.)

Critics of the institutional church frequently point to the corrosive arrogance of the Catholic clergy as the root cause of so much abuse of power. It is important, however, to consider the extent to which the clericalism of the laity enables these abuses to take place, and to reflect on the multitude of ways this phenomenon affects a spectrum of Catholics, including some of our most progressive voices.

I have seen the effects of lay clericalism among professors at Catholic colleges and universities, who fret about discussing controversial issues about gender and sexuality in an academic forum. Tenured scholars, who are exponentially more educated than most Roman Catholic priests, can quickly become terrified of the reactions of bishops to their academic programs. (It broke my heart and almost my spirit, to see what Morlino's mandatum and Focus students did to one of my most cherished priest professors.)

I have seen lay clericalism in parishes considered “prophetic” because of their commitment to social justice, service to the poor, and welcoming of marginalized Catholics. And, yet, in many cases these progressive voices will not challenge the parish priest, even when he makes decisions that compromise a parish’s legacy of advocacy.

I know many lay women and men who have labored on parish staffs and have suffered the fruits of lay clericalism. Regardless of a lay minister’s education level, years of experience, and ministerial gifts, parishioners almost always have a submissive “preferential option” for the priest -- even if they disagree strongly with his policies and practices. A lay person’s degrees and pastoral presence are no match against the power of simply being “Father.”  (Or your Eminence.)

So often it is the clericalism of the laity, rather than the clericalism of the clergy, that undermines the power of the laity in our church.

No one knows what the future holds. People are waiting to see how the ordinariate in England progresses, and what the Church of England does next. But what remains with me is the joyful relief and commitment of these newcomers. At last, they feel, they are understood and wanted. 

Though many have rejected the paternalism of church teachings, especially on issues of sexual morality, so many Catholics have not been able to wipe away the residue of experiencing the Catholic clergy as a disapproving parent, capable of banishing us from the love of God. (The same attitude is extended to "the Church."

In the comments section of one of the NCR reports on the Ratigan case, several readers noted that Hess would surely be fired eventually for exposing both a predator priest and the mishandling of the case by a bishop who is a favorite of traditionalists.

Responding to this claim, an anonymous commentator, seemingly connected with St. Patrick’s, responded emphatically: “If this principal catches any grief over this[,] a full riot will occur at St. Pat's[.] I will help incite it. We will not let mis-conduct by the diocese punish our excellent school and its stellar leader.”
I pray that this person’s convictions will find support within St. Patrick’s lay community.

By risking their relationship with the institutional church in order to uphold a layperson of integrity, the laity of St. Patrick’s have the opportunity to join the growing ranks of Catholic communities that refuse to collude in the hierarchy’s abuse of power, like the administration of St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix, Ariz.

As the tales of the institutional church’s deception and negligence continue to mount, lay Catholics must stop making themselves subservient to their imagined notions of the power of the hierarchy, and must instead allow themselves to be channels of the power of God that is made manifest through sacrifice, courage, and truthfulness. 

They must recognize how their internalized clericalism may be impeding their prophetic participation in the Spirit’s unfolding work in our church.


I have just a few things to add to what Jamie has written.  I told a friend of mine that the Finn fiasco in Kansas City seems to have ignited real honest anger in a lot of  people.  I don't know why that would be, except that Finn sort of proves even the most devout and pious and traditionally conservative of bishops is not any different than the most liberal and secular.  When it comes to the priesthood, for almost all of our bishops,  there is no bridge too far when it comes to valuing priests over the laity.  But in point of fact it might just be Finn's unbelievable comment about not having enough priests that was the spark that brought out all this anger.  There is no rational reason Catholicism has a priest shortage. None.  This one idiotic statement of Finn's, used to justify his failure to act in the case of a real problem priest,  may just actually be the bridge too far.

I now really strongly believe the Church has lost the laity in the West.  It's not a question of when the Church will fold it's tent, but rather, when the laity will recognize the vast vast majority of us have already had enough, we just couldn't admit it, but now are getting ready to act.  The new question is what happens now?  Well, there is a gathering of laity in Detroit over Pentecost weekend, June 10-12.  I suspect the Spirit will be blowing pretty strongly in Detroit that weekend.  I wish I could go, but the Spirit is sort of suggesting I stay where I'm at and honor some other commitments. I will be thinking, praying, and following it very closely.  There's an anger rising through out the Catholic West, and it's not against secularism.  It's against clericalism.  It just has to change and permanently.

For me personally there was another NCR article that had even more impact.  It's this one on the Anglican Ordinariate.  It was this paragraph at the end of the article: 

No one knows what the future holds. People are waiting to see how the ordinariate in England progresses, and what the Church of England does next. But what remains with me is the joyful relief and commitment of these newcomers. At last, they feel, they are understood and wanted.

I just couldn't compute that one thousand Anglican's are made to feel 'understood and wanted' at the expense of tens of millions of Catholics, both men and women, who don't feel either understood or wanted.  In my book that's abusive.  That's clericalism protecting clericalism.


  1. Thank you for this Colleen. I just read tonight all the Tom McMahon essays and found them a very interesting read except he attributes, "The Iron Mask" to Chaucer when it really is from Alexandre Dumas and is the final of several of Dumas’s books beginning with the Three Musketeers. I have read all these books and I would not begin with “The Iron Mask as too much has happened in the other novels that one would not know. McMahon’s life embodies what any spiritualist must do. He as well you and I and many others are finding our own ways TO BE and they are not at all related to the dogma of a Magisterium. I have sent the McMahon reference to all my friends that are (married) priests. I hope it gives them some solace! If not solace at least some clear explanation of what went wrong with their own clericalism.

    You mention what went wrong with the clericalism of the laity. That is a very fine point. How can we let people with such a clouded point of view preach any form of moral action to the “people of god?” The People of God in Europe are alive and well in the US, we are awakening.

    I sometimes wonder why of all the cities in the Nazi Empire did Rome and particularly the Vatican escape the massive bombings of the others? Maybe the greed in the Vatican was playing both sides of the fence!!

    I have been complaining on several websites for over ten years, this one included, about the Bishops and the Clerical system. Some have called me an heretic others anti-catholic. I asked on this site when I was really very ill about one year ago. Where to now? Where will we find our mentors without Jesuits, Dominicans and Benedictines? Well you and I are the result of a large remnant of these scholars. We can only continue to do what we are doing and that is pointing toward truth, the Whispers of the great (holy) spirit, wherever she might lead. The RCC clericalism has chosen a course of secrecy and to avoid discovery of truth. We are at the end times for these clerics. Needless to say some have mentored me well but the system has imploded in its own lack of truth and in its own worldly greed. Yes secularism that seeks truth is really the spirituality of Jesus Christ.

    Clericalism is the Evil Empire. Did you ever examine a picture up close of the unmasked evil emperor in Star Wars with the current (evil?!!) pope? That symbolism is very powerful!! dennis

    R. Dennis Porch, MD

  2. RDP, good point. Here's the picture:

    Which is which?

  3. It's interesting you mention the Evil empire thing. There are any number of photos comparing Benedict with Palpatine. The facial resemblance is kind of creepy. For instance this one is nicely photo shopped:

    More seriously, your point about mentors is apt. I firmly believe that spiritual leadership is far more about mentoring than it is ritual celebration.

  4. As always, Colleen, thanks for an excellect article. I have two thoughts.

    For almost a decade, just as Jamie Manson has done, we Catholics are urged not to submit, make our voices heard, etc. But none of that has proved effective. Other than leaving the pews empty, I don't know of any other action left to take. With you, I have great hope that the ACC council next week proves to be a milestone in American Catholicism.

    Dr. Porch asks why was Rome and the Vatican spared by Hitler. The answer is the same as to why the EUR23 million was just released without the regulators ever finding out the source of the money which is why it was seized in the first place. Financiers at the international level did and still do need the global candestine financial system supplied by the Roman Catholic Church.

  5. Betty good point! But why was it spared the US bombing as well. Look what we did to the Nazi cities inside Germany and even in other Nazi conquered lands? These guys know how to play both sides of the fence. They must really believe that the world-wide actions of greedy corporate types will be successful in the near future. Look at what was tried or is being tried by corporate politicians in France, Wisconsin and Michigan. The infallible Magisterium, or the Bishops that believe in such nonsense are supporting these men almost every where. There are a few who give tribute to the poor but are they not playing "both sides of the fence again."

    A good solution would be for multiple powerful Bishops or Cardinals to disagree with Papal leadership and pull out millions of Catholics from the RCC. If that does not happen, we could purse legal magistrates to stop them at every turn. Finally, we must welcome all seeking minds to the legacy of mentoring left by the deceased educational mentors of the RCC. My hope is that the Catholic Universities understand this sooner rather than later. dennis

  6. Betty, I had an interesting slip of the pen when I said we could purse instead of pursue. I think maybe I unconsciously was thinking about how the Bishops approach problems. dennis

  7. A few years ago our new parish priest asked me, and some others, to sit in on the first meeting of our parish finance committee. One little old lady said "Fadder I'm gonna make a quilt we can raffle it off". Very good my dear. Another said "We'll have a car wash and a spaghetti supper." Ah, excellent my son.

    I said I thought we should develop a strategic plan just as they taught us in business school. They looked at me like I was an alien from another planet. I was never invited back.


  8. p2p, I spent 12 years on my dioceses Commission for Catholic Education. Then cam a JP 2 Bishop. All those that had academic prowess were gone off the commission. I have since served on an Episcopal School Board and a Board founding a new Lutheran High School. Both places I met some of the same people that served the Bishop appointed by Pope Paul. Seems that that there really has been a clandestine philosophy that has a bearing on a financial plan in place for a long time. Accountability, what is that?

    Lets go sell some fried chicken at the next parish car wash! dennis

  9. @rdp46


    I may have mentioned this earlier. Our church burned down. The parishioners made one request of the bishop, that the roof be designed so it wouldn't leak. We had been taking second collections for about 15 years to continually repair the old church roof.

    The bishop appointed an architect who proposed a church with about 37 different facets. We complained. We got a church roof with about 27 facets and no soffit overhang. It has leaked for the last 10 years. Worse than the old church the water runs down the walls and freezes in winter so the structural integrity will be threatened as the bricks crumble.

    In the meantime I don't think we have had a single Sunday without a double collection. I seem to recall someone commenting that the double collection would bring in far more than the cost of repairs and that it was probably intended that way.


  10. I really believe as more and more people watch their parishes die around them, as much because of the priest shortage as demographics, that they will begin to pull out and form their own communities, under their own control. When what is basically a trickle at the moment becomes more of river, priests will begin to realize their livelihood might be better served in these intentional communities than in the Roman Catholic Church system.

    To me that would be a huge indicator that Catholics are finally growing up and taking control of their own spiritual lives. This notion of maturing in one's spiritual life can't happen when one gives all the decisions about that life to another. I like to think this is a big reason Jesus didn't stick around after the Resurrection. Ultimately His teachings weren't about Him, they were for us.

  11. Church is boring.