For me frequent recent (under this papacy) and less frequent (under previous papacies) accusations of clericalism have always inspired a kind of emotional neutrality. It depended on what kind of “clericalism” was intended.
Father Michael Chua finds in today’s readings material on which to criticise a sort of “clericalism” that goes unnoticed in this current papacy:
There is another brand of clericalism that comes across as a condescending attitude matched by words and actions. It patronises and denigrates those who disagree and uses ad hominem attacks to belittle. It denies the legitimate rights of the faithful to choose the manner of worship or devotion that is legitimately authorised by the Church. Instead, of submitting to the legitimate authority of the Magisterium, to the disciplines of the Church, such form of clericalism begins to impose its own brand of justice, ideologies, laws, and rubrics on the faithful. Such clericalism often insults the intelligence of the faithful, who wish to be treated as adults.
Well, exactly. The sort of thing many of the faithful have been saying for decades and will no doubt continue to do so.
Father Chua has recently transferred from the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes in the royal town of Klang to the Church of Jesus Caritas in a northern area of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital. With the move, his homilies now must appear often in Chinese! (His new parish is in a somewhat Chinese area in town.)
Another quote before we go:
There is a clericalism that does not accentuate, but rather blurs the lines between clergy and laity. It’s often regarded as the laicisation of priests (not to be confused with the canonical process of releasing priests from their priestly state) and its corollary, the clericalisation of the laity. It’s as if we are telling the laity, your baptismal dignity is not good enough unless you start behaving and doing things like a ministerial priest; or to the priests, you are not inclusive or humble enough unless you behave like the average Joe.
The whole of Father Michael Chua’s homily this day is here on his blog. It is well worth your attention.