The Personalist Project

Accessed on September 26, 2023 - 5:07:13

Roots and reforms

Katie van Schaijik, May 23, 2021

A friend sent a link to an excellent Crisis Magazine article by Darrick Taylor about the historical roots of the clergy sex abuse scandals. It jibes perfectly with the case I've been making for years now about the problem of clericalism, the master/slave dynamic in our communal life, and the need for the laity to, as it were, grow up in our Christianity.

After the Reformation, nominalist ideas of obedience combined with a distorted view of priestly sanctity created psychological habits of dependence among the clergy and passed them on to the laity.

Those habits, coupled with erosions of safeguards in canon law, led to the calamity we're facing.

But where such an idea of authority and obedience went unchecked, it must have created an atmosphere that drew abusive men to the priesthood. 

Yes. Abusive men were drawn to the priesthood, which in turn, and in a classic vicious cycle, repelled a not-insignificant number of naturally-spirited laymen, who then became dissenters or left the Church altogether, so that now She is much-too-largely-composed of abusers and weak, passive people, clergy and laity alike.

If we want to change that, we're going to have to make fundamental changes in ecclesial law, custom and culture. Above all, in my own opinion, the laity will to have to learn to seize and exercise responsibly co-ownership and co-agency in the Church.

It's already all given in the doctrines and philosophy of our Faith. We just have to take it up.