The articles in this SEDOS Bulletin deal in one way or another with the problem of “clericalism” in the Church. Although priests are supposed to be the “servant of the servants”, as said during the ordination to the priesthood, they tend to let themselves be served rather than to serve. Actually, the lay people are part of the problem as they like to serve the priest, instead of serving the needy, and to make the priest feel important. The priest is there to show them what it means to be “the servant of the Lord”, to which all are called.
The first article is by Jesuit Fr. Poulose Mangai who writes on the of Prof. Kurien Kunnumpuram’s contribution, SJ, regarding the insights of Vatican II and the challenges facing the Indian Church. His theory is that if the Church in India wants to be relevant and responsive in the world of today, it should free itself from this clericalism. “In order to avoid the pitfall of clericalism, it is important that priests understand, embrace and live out servant-leadership after the example of the Son of Man who came ‘not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many’ (Mk 10:45)”.
This example of the serving priest after Vatican II is concretized in the way the Popes from that time on have lived and worked more as “pastors” then as “lords”. Fr. James Kroeger, MM, recalls the important contributions of the three “Vatican II” Popes who were canonized by Pope Francis. Joy, evangelization, and mission are fundamental aspects of the Church and of every priest, sister, brother, and lay person.
In order to realize the ideals of Vatican II also on gender equality, the local Church needs new structures because the present one is too vertical and patriarchal, according to theologian Silvia Martinez Cano. She states that, “Probably, if women were fully integrated into the organization of the Church not only at the sacramental level but also at the executive level, this organization would be different”.
Religious can encourage priests to be part of the bigger Church, and not only of their small parish. Pier Giorgio Taneburgo, OFM Cap, tells with joy in his heart how the Church in Albania is becoming a “spiritual family”.
The last article is by the young hand of Fr. Gebremeskel Shikur Kirato, IMC, who relates the history of the diocesan priest Giuseppe Allamano who founded two missionary Congregations: the Consolata Missionary Institute and the Consolata Missionary Sisters. His health was not strong enough for him to become a missionary, but he worked as a priest to promote missionary vocations in, and the missionary responsibility of, the Church. According to Allamano “Every priest by his ordination is a missionary; for a priest who shares the priesthood of Christ, a diocese is too narrow to exercise his mission, so a priest should be open to the whole of humanity”.
The Document of this SEDOS Bulletin is taken from the French Catholic daily newspaper LA CROIX. It gives us Ten Guide-lines on How To Counter Clericalism:
1) Put priests in their rightful place
2) Put the laity in their rightful place
3) Recall the equality of all through Baptism
4) To publicly assume the faults of the Church
5) Organize places for debate in the Church
6) Use freedom of speech
7)Govern dioceses in a more collegial manner
8) Give responsibilities to the laity
9) Involve more women in the training of priests
10) Place women in positions of authority
These guidelines sum up many of the proposals made by the different authors of our selected articles. An English version of this document, as well of the articles in other languages, can be found on the SEDOS Website.
Enjoy the reading!