One Bishop I know lives in the age of the Inquisition and will happily tell his priests, and anyone else who will listen to him, that complaints have made against them but then will neither tell the priest of the substance of the complaint nor who the complainant was. It can be like Spain during the Inquisition!
The bishops' role is primarily to be the foundation of unity and love within their diocese, principally by being the "Father in God" to their clergy it is sad when he becomes the source of suspicion and rumour.
Here is a rather strange sermon from one of our Welsh bishops, Bishop Tom Burns of Menevia
, it starts off reasonably well, if a little confused, then becomes a rant.
Now which was the Roman Emperor who used to publish laws but in a way that no one was able read them? It is full of accusations which are made but not really identified. The 50 plus priests in his diocese must wonder if they are guilty of "clericalism" which he connects directly to paedophilia.
The link was sent to me by one of his priests.
The sermon seems designed to create an air of suspicion and a culture of mediocrity.
The concerning passage begins:
For priests who offended, [through the abuse of minors] I'm not sure that their abuses grew out of the rule of celibacy; abuse happens within otherwise good families too. I'm more convinced that it grew out of the clericalism of the past.
He does not quite identify what he means by "clericalism". He certainly does not identify it as that gross distortion by his brother Bishops who covered up sins against God and crimes against children. Nor does he see it as that distortion faith by individual priests or bishops under that cover all of abuse of the faith, the Spirit of Vatican II, nor is it the absence of transparency of the Episcopal Conference.
He says, "clericalism risks raising its head today ..." it seems to imply he is having a go at young clergy, especially those who see themselves in the Benedictine and JPII mould!
... among those who again are looking for identity in status, not service. They want to be treated differently. There are those who set high standards of morality for lay people, while they blatantly violate those same standards themselves.
Status rather than service would be very sad but younger clergy seem to identify themselves as first of all serving God and by their service of him, serve their people. Immoral clergy have always been a scandal and Bishops have a duty to root them out. The moral standard is set by Christ and his Church, not by individual priests, except by their sanctity. If he knows of those who "blatantly violate those same standards themselves", which he seems to imply he does, he must act, we have had enough of cover up and double standards.
There are those who go to extremes to express the Mass in a particular way, whether it is in the Ordinary Form or Extraordinary Form, in a so-called VAT II rite or Tridentine Rite, through the "People's Mass" or the "Priest's Mass".
I am not sure what he is saying here, I hope he is not saying that those who care about the Sacred Liturgy are paedophiles or exponents of clericalism. As far as the EF is concerned, how can you go to extremes, it is so controlled?
Some want to put the priest on a pedestal, whilst the people are consigned to be privileged spectators outside the rails.
Pedestals? Who is he getting at? Doesn't Redemptorist Sacramentum speak quite clearly about people having clearly defined spaces and places in the Sacred Liturgy? Invariably it is laypeople who put priests on pedestals, most priests know they are sinners and hate anything that hints of a pedestal.
Flamboyant modes of liturgical vestments and rubrical gestures abound.
Ah yes, I hate potato printed chasubles, is that what he is talking about? But rubrical gestures? If they are rubrical then they are correct, it is the non-rubrical gestures that is problem.
Women are denied all ministries at Mass: doing the Readings, the serving, the Bidding Prayers, and taking Communion to the Sick.
If he hadn't mentioned the Usus Antiquior earlier you might think he was talking about that, and of course all the Eastern Rites, where the sanctuary was reserved to men. Any priest has a right to restrict serving to males only and if a priest can take Holy Communion to all his sick, he should praised not linked to paedophilia!
To many in our Church and beyond, this comes across as triumphalism and male domination.
And to many, it might be seen as reflecting the male nature of the ministerial priesthood and an opposition to a particular form of feminism that is becoming rife in England and Wales and seems to be a deliberate move towards encouraging female ordination.
This clericalism conceals the fact that the Church as an institution has often acted in collusion with what I can only regard as structural sinfulness. It has paid dearly for it and is untrue to its humble Founder, Jesus Christ.
I always get worried by those who talk about "the Church as an institution", it stinks of "that Pope", "those Bishops" "that Curia" and as for "structural sinfulness" well, prostitution, slavery and poverty are "structural sins" but structures only become sinful because of sinful people.
There seems to be a bit of that 1970s fallacy that Christ instigated a Church without hierarchy here.