Something is radically wrong with this picture.  A sense of entitlement John Chuchman

John Chuchman


A sense of entitlement

prevailing among ordained men

is conducive to exploitative behavior.

The issue is not

whether the men are gay or straight,

but that they have, by reason of their clerical status,

access to privilege and power

within the ecclesial community that insulates them

from accountability.

This clergy/lay, top-down structure

conditions relationships and functions in the church.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says

ordination confers an indelible spiritual character on a priest

that cannot be repeated or conferred temporarily

 and marks him permanently.

A priest is seen as ontologically different from a layperson.

His place in the hierarchical structure reflects this difference.

His roles as a sacramental presider

and as a decision-maker are contingent on it.

Moreover, the institution that pays, feeds and eventually buries him

is built to maintain its own well-being as well as his;

he is expected to exhibit similar loyalty to the institution.

No wonder bishops and superiors

have re-assigned, covered up and otherwise protected clerical criminals.

That is simply how the system works,

not some rare, anomalous case

as any honest participant would affirm.

Even if all of the U.S. bishops were to be fired from their posts

and be replaced with yet more clerics,

little would improve.

The structure, not just individuals who err,

is the problem and structures can be changed.

But when all is said and done,

in church circles, priests’ most heinous crimes

and most egregious breaches of trust

merely consign them to lay status,

where the rest of us live our entire lives.

Something is radically wrong with this picture.  

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