I was told of a priest, who happens to write for one of those Catholic papers which no-one reads. He re-ordered his church according to his own whim. In the process he destroyed an altar and various statues and objects that were given by past parishioners, of course there were complaints. The priests reaction was to get a friend, a solicitor, to send those who objected letters suggesting that if they continued to make their concerns public they risked being sued for defamation. With one particular family, not content with one letter, for several years afterwards, just before Christmas, his solicitor friend would send a reminder.
The culture that covered up the sin and crime of sexual abuse certainly has its root in 'clericalism'. 'Clericalism' is certainly a 'leprosy', 'a virus', it is marked by a lack of transparency, a failure to be a servant and to consider that the rest of the Church. It sees the clergy as a caste apart the laity is there to serve rather than to be served. It is akin to Pharisaism in the Gospels.
It strikes me that 'clericalism' springs not from a strong priestly identity but from a weak one, and a weak sense of the nature of the Church. Teaching the Catholic faith isn't clericalism, celebrating its Mysteries decently and reverently according to the Law isn't clericalism, but imposing one's personal interpretation of the faith is clericalism of the most dangerous type, as is substituting rites of one's devising for those given by the Church.
The priest or bishop whose personal beliefs are out of 'synch' with the Church is really dangerous because ultimately he is not seeking to deepen the union of his people with God within the Church but with himself. It is a form of idolatry, in which the priest usurps a place the place of God.
Pope Francis recently speaking of the devil said:
There are some priests who, when they read this Gospel passage, this and others, say: ‘But, Jesus healed a person with a mental illness’. They do not read this, no? It is true that at that time, they could confuse epilepsy with demonic possession; but it is also true that there was the devil! And we do not have the right to simplify the matter, as if to say: ‘All of these (people) were not possessed; they were mentally ill’. No! The presence of the devil is on the first page of the Bible, and the Bible ends as well with the presence of the devil, with the victory of God over the devil.”But what in fact is happening is that such priests are negating revealed Truth with a message of their own, they are given a role within the Church that they abuse. Here the Pope speaks of the devil and demons but he could equally well have substituted conscience or contraception, sin and confession, heaven and hell, death and judgement, or any foreshortening of the Faith.
Pope Francis warns that such an approach seeks to relativize the truth about Jesus and leads to half-measures in our battle with the Devil ....