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There are multiple & competing narratives raging around the Catholic world as to the etiology of the clergy sexual abuse scandal & its consequent cover-ups.  Some of them are red herring tales (but beloved of the cultural warriors):  it’s because of the all male priesthood with its outdated celibacy requirements that needs to end; it’s because of individual clergy—bishops, priests, & deacons—with a personal sexual orientation that is homosexual; it’s because of the dearth of women & their feminine wisdom being involved in upper echelon positions within the Roman Curia.  None of these pseudo-narratives effectively touches upon the real & authentic heart of the matter:  the evil of cultural church clericalism!

The betrayal of sacred vows by men who pledged to live celibate lives for the sake of the People of God is at the root of this problem, & not those other agenda-laden scenarios.  Our church lives are directed by the teachings of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) & such church doctrine emanating from the Sacred Council is never going away—despite the attempts of some churchmen & laity over the past 50 years to force the old toothpaste back into its pre-Vatican II tube.  The original root problem is compounded by the cultural phenomenon of clericalism which posits that those ordained to the hierarchical priesthood are somehow beyond human:  consecrated & set apart; entitled to special privileges; entrusted to run the church at the local, regional, & global levels; beyond question or reproach by mere mortal laypersons; an elite corps of church storm-troopers, which also becomes the ultimate old boys club that protects its members & reputation above all else.

Such creation of a priestly caste is a betrayal of the missionary mission of the church & of its entryway via the sacrament of Baptism—which makes each of us God’s beloved daughter or son.  It is an ugly & utter repudiation of the Servant Leadership model that our Gospel Church was commissioned to spread to the furthest ends of the world by its Lord & Master, our Savior Jesus Christ—who knelt to wash the filthy feet of his apostles.  Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, continues speaking with elegant simplicity about the dangers & evil of clericalism & how it is at opposition with the Church’s mission & with the spirit of the Gospel. 

Let us pray that our nation’s bishops will seize this critical moment in the history of the U.S. church to boldly & genuinely support Pope Francis—holding themselves accountable to all the provisions of the Dallas Charter that now apply to all priests.  Our bishops collectively have squandered a great deal of the trust given them abundantly & benevolently in past times.  The only way to restore such trust is to demonstrate clearly & unambiguously that they are committed to offering their lives for the sake of their flocks—in imitation of The Good Shepherd.  We need holy, priestly pastor-shepherds to guide us—may God grant us the graces of reparation, purification & renewal according to the mind & heart of the Lord, Jesus!