Posts Tagged AUSCP
Clergy & laypeople collaborate to confront clericalism / Association of U.S. Catholic Priests & Voice of the Faithful
Joint News Release from Association of U.S. Catholic Priests and Voice of the Faithful
For Immediate Release, Aug. 15, 2019
Pope Francis condemns clericalism, repeatedly. Catholic commentators decry it. Theologians and church historians examine its roots. Now, in a significant collaboration, the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests and Voice of the Faithful have examined the ways clericalism emerges from the clerical culture, generating complex problems facing the Roman Catholic Church today, and they suggest ways to combat it.
Their document, “Confronting the Systemic Dysfunction of Clericalism,” was approved at the AUSCP June 2019 Assembly, where guest speaker Dr. Richard Gaillardetz called it “very informative, even visionary.” Keynote speaker Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago, noting the real-life examples reported, said it was “nothing less than a catalogue of horrors chronicling imperial pronouncements, put-downs, claims of privileges, entitlements and exemptions from accountability, but also a culture so pervasive that, sadly, many of the laity have come to accept it as normal and yes, even have cooperated in maintaining it.”
Real-life examples are central to the report and a significant contribution to the study of clericalism today. As the writers note, “We typically encounter clericalism as an experience. Using only scholarly definitions and explanations when discussing clericalism cannot communicate this lived experience of clericalism in the Church. To fully understand clericalism, we also must hear the voices of those who experience abuse of power.”
One experience describes a confrontation between a laywoman and a visiting priest in Boston during a 2003 meeting. “We must fix this [sex abuse] because we are the Church,” the laywoman said. The visiting priest replied, “YOU are not the Church,” and pointing to his Roman collar, declared, “WE are the Church.”
In another example, a new pastor announced that he would personally choose pastoral council members and no one would be allowed to disagree with him. In yet another, a seminarian criticized the pastor for his monthly blessing service because it differed from what the seminary practiced.
If these examples seem to focus blame on the clergy or an insulated hierarchy or any group or faction within the universal church, the document will not allow such a conclusion. Clericalism is not simply a problem of clerics, and the authors cite experiences where lay people enable such behavior.
Clericalism is toxic to all the baptized, they note. When lay people encounter clericalism: “They find another parish; they leave the Church; they never speak up again in meetings with priests; they abdicate all decision-making to the priest; they become audiences rather that participants in the parish’s life and sideline observers within the Church. Or all of the above. They abdicate their baptismal responsibilities.”
Priests may suffer, too, from unrealistic expectations stifling their human development. It is manifested in “overwork, isolation, loneliness, unrelieved stress, the expectation that he and he alone will handle all the parish business and be responsible for all the parish problems.”
The document delves into the culture of the diocesan priesthood and characteristics that help incubate clericalism: the hierarchical and patriarchal structure of the church, its requirements for celibacy, an ordination that is said to confer an ontological change, an education separated from the daily lives of laypeople, distinctive clothing and liturgical dress. Clerics also receive privileges of lifestyle and compensation not available to the people to whom they minister. The final section of the paper describes options for confronting clericalism.
“Our aim,” the AUSCP and VOTF writers say, “has been to raise the consciousness
of readers to the expressions of clericalism and its problems. Clericalism betrays the teachings of the scriptures and ignores the best practices of the first three centuries of Christian faith and life. Both clerics and lay persons can be afflicted with the disease. Both are often unaware that their mode and manner, their self-understanding, and their sense of ministry have wandered far from the example of Jesus … [We]” hope that our words help us all rise to the challenge of today in confronting and ultimately removing as many vestiges as possible of the clericalism that harms us all.”
Cardinal Cupich emphasized a similar conclusion: “Clericalism can only be confronted by reclaiming the authenticity of the conversion we are called to in Baptism.”
The team preparing the report worked with input from clergy and laypeople across the United States, modeling the synodality Pope Francis urges as one way to address clericalism’s damage. Following its completion, the white paper also was endorsed by FutureChurch, another organization that includes both priests and lay people.
Lead writers for “Confronting the Systemic Dysfunction of Clericalism” were Rev. Kevin Clinton, AUSCP Past Chair of the Leadership Team, retired pastor, Archdiocese of St. Paul–Minneapolis; and Ms. Donna B. Doucette, Executive Director, Voice of the Faithful, member of Paulist Center Community, Archdiocese of Boston.
Contributors on the Working Group under the auspices of AUSCP were Rev. Gerry Bechard, AUSCP, pastor of Sts. Simon and Jude Parish, Archdiocese of Detroit; Ms. Alvera Bell, parishioner of St. Paul the Apostle Parish, Diocese of Youngstown; Mr. David Bell, parishioner of St. Paul the Apostle Parish, Diocese of Youngstown; Rev. Bernard R. Bonnot, AUSCP Executive Director, retired pastor in the Diocese of Youngstown; and Rev. Tom Ogg, AUSCP, retired pastor, Diocese of Cheyenne, Worldwide Marriage Encounter―U.S. Ecclesial Priest.
N.B. “Confronting the Systemic Dysfunction of Clericalism” can be read and downloaded at http://www.votf.org/AUSCP-Projects/Systemic%20Dysfunction%20Clericalism.pdf. Strategies for addressing clericalism in local faith communities can be found in “The BridgeDialogues: Laity & Clergy Reimaging the Church” at http://www.votf.org/content/priest-and-lay-reform-organizations-take-clerical-culture, which is a collaborative effort of AUSCP, FutureChurch and VOTF.
Contact: Donna B. Doucette, Executive Director, firstname.lastname@example.org
Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful® is a worldwide movement of faithful Roman Catholics working to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, support priests of integrity and increase the laity’s role in reforming administrative structures that have failed. VOTF’s mission is to provide a prayerful voice, attentive to the Spirit, through which the faithful can actively participate in the governance and guidance of the Catholic Church. More information is at votf.org.
Association of U.S. Catholic Priests: AUSCP serves the People of God in parishes and other ministries. We seek to add a priest’s voice to the public conversation within our pilgrim church, among bishops and lay persons, vowed religious, ordained deacons and others. Our concerns are your concerns: good liturgy, social justice, the role of women in our church, immigration policies that reflect Gospel values, the dignity of all human lives, and a Church that welcomes all the People of God. Our mission is to be an association of U.S. Catholic priests offering mutual support and a collegial voice through dialogue, contemplation and prophetic action on issues affecting Church and society. Our vision is to be a Priest’s Voice of Hope and Joy within our Pilgrim Church. More information is at uscatholicpriests.org.
BOSTON, Mass., Apr. 11, 2018 – Voice of the Faithful, a movement of Roman Catholics whose major goals include supporting priests, endorses the recent statement made by the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests that calls for revisions in the training of men for ordination to the priesthood to ensure greater adherence to the tenets of the Second Vatican Council and teachings of Pope Francis.
The impetus for AUSCP’s statement stems from the 2016 mandate of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy that each bishop’s conference update its Program for Priestly Formation.
“Our study and reflection persuade us that a new Program of Priestly Formation needs more than minimal editing … It needs in-depth revisions,” the priests said in a letter to Cardinal Joseph Tobin, who leads the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on the Consecrated Life and Vocations. “Our comments are made in response to the significant challenges facing the Church in the United States.”
The priests include among these challenges fewer Catholics actively participating in the Church, fewer priests and candidates for the priesthood, fewer converts, fewer Church weddings, fewer baptisms, fewer parishes, and more people identifying themselves as “spiritual” rather than “religious.”
The AUSCP statement, “Preparing the Sixth Edition of the Program of Priestly Formation,” points to six overriding concerns: faithfulness to Vatican II, call to service, pastoral model of priestly formation, psychosexual development and celibacy, discernment processes, and faculty formation. As stated in their letter, these thoughts are “grounded” in Vatican II, in the writings, statements, and actions of Pope Francis, and in their own experiences. In their statement, the priests make recommendations to help address each of these concerns. Use this link to read the AUSCP’s entire letter and statement.
In endorsing this statement, VOTF points out it has long sought greater emphasis on Vatican II values, including less “clerical,” more pastoral priests, who place service as their highest calling. VOTF also sees as immensely valuable a greater emphasis on psychosexual training for the priesthood, which may have helped avert or at least ameliorate the clergy sexual abuse scandal.
The priests conclude their statement by pointing out that the “current seminary model was established nearly 500 years ago.” As its motto, “Keep the faith, change the Church,” suggests, VOTF would agree that time for change is here.
Voice of the Faithful Statement, Apr. 11, 2018
Contact: Nick Ingala, email@example.com, 781-559-3360
Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful® is a worldwide movement of faithful Roman Catholics working to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, support priests of integrity, and increase the laity’s role in the governance and guidance of the Church. More information is at www.votf.org.
The Association of U.S. Catholic Priests, FutureChurch, and Voice of the Faithful are launching a new initiative to foster education and conversation on women deacons.
DeaconChat, brings Catholics―both lay and ordained―into dialogue.
On May 12, 2016, Pope Francis―responding to a question posed by members of the International Union of Superiors General―said that he would establish a commission to study the question of ordaining women deacons in the Roman Catholic Church. That commission was formally announced in August 2016 and began its work in November 2016.
“Already in 2013, AUSCP called for consideration of ordaining women deacons. As the papal commission continues its work, it is important that Catholics―lay and ordained―undergo their own study and discernment of the history and present possibility of ordaining women to the diaconate,” said Fr. Bob Bonnot, Chair of the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests. “DeaconChat provides that opportunity.”
“This initiative is designed to foster educational efforts to enrich dialogue on women deacons,” said Donna B. Doucette, Executive Director of Voice of the Faithful. “The program has three important components: learning, sharing, and connecting.”
“The initiative includes important educational materials, a link to purchase Phyllis Zagano’s book Women Deacons: Past, Present and Future, and guides for inviting clergy to dialogue,” said Deborah Rose-Milavec, Executive Director of FutureChurch. “We hope Catholics in the United States and around the world will be inspired to start a conversation in their parish.”
Go to http://www.CatholicWomenDeacons.org/support/deaconchat to download the DeaconChat materials.
Fr. Bob Bonnot, Chair, Association of U.S. Catholic Priests, 330-397-1257, firstname.lastname@example.org
Deborah Rose-Milavec, Executive Director, FutureChurch, 513.673.1401, email@example.com
Donna Doucette, Executive Director, Voice of the Faithful, 1-781-559-3360, firstname.lastname@example.org
As U.S. dioceses continue their Vatican-ordered consultations for the upcoming Synod of Bishops on the family, a national clergy group has launched its own questionnaire in an effort to highlight the issues most pressing to priests.
“The Association of U.S. Catholic Priests sent a synod survey on Jan. 31 to its 1,000-plus members, asking each not to answer the 46 questions presented in the synod’s working document, the lineamenta, but instead to rank them in importance on a seven-point scale from ‘not important’ to ‘essential.’ Each question also offers comment space for priests to expand on those questions they deemed as essential.”
By Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this story.
Also of interest is, “Strong Catholic Families offers simplified survey for family synod,” by Soli Salgado, National Catholic Reporter.
U.S. Priests Want Married Men to Be Ordained, Support Worker Pensions, Immigration Reform and Opening Up Bishop-Selection Process / Religion News Service
A proposal to ask American Catholic bishops to request church approval to ordain married men as priests was approved June 25 by the 230 priests attending an assembly of the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests this week in St. Louis.
“The group also announced support for full payment of worker pensions, asked that lay people have a role in the selection of diocesan bishops, and made plans to help Catholics learn more about Church teaching in regard to immigration rights and responsibilities.
“In recommending a call for the church to ordain married men, the association cited published reports that Pope Francis would welcome such a request from bishop’s conferences around the world.”
By Religion News Service Religion Press Release Services — Click here to read the rest of this press release and see contact information for the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests.
The Association of U.S. Catholic Priests in a letter to Pope Francis criticized the head of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for his recent comments chastising the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.
“The Seattle-based association, which claims 1,000 U.S. priests as members, focused its letter to the pope on comments made by the congregation’s prefect, German Cardinal Gerhard Müller, in an April 30 welcoming address to LCWR leadership.”
By Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this story.