A few days ago I received an email from Richard Colins who has the Linen on the Hedgerow blog with a link to Chris Gillibrand`s blog for an article from the Diocese of Menevia Yearbook for 2011. I enjoy Chris Gillbrand`s blog but don`t go there very often as for some reason of all the webpages I know it is by far the slowest to load. However there I found the following extract from a sermon given by the bishop of Menevia in June to conclude the Year of the Priest.
For priests who offended, 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. That clericalism risks raising its head today 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. 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 Rile, through the "People's Mass" or the . "Priest's Mass". Some want to put the priest on a pedestal, whilst the people are consigned to be privileged spectators outside the rails. Flamboyant modes of liturgical vestments and rubrical gestures abound. Women are denied all ministries at Mass: doing the Readings, the serving, the Bidding Prayers, and taking Communion to the Sick. To many in our Church and beyond, this comes across as triumphalism and male domination. 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 see Fr Blake has given a very thoughtful commentary on this passage today on his blog. What he has to say is well worth reading. I only wanted to make a couple of points which occurred to me as Bishop Burns appears to be linking the child abuse scandal to what he says is clericalism. Fr Blake makes the useful point that:
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 of 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.
This touches on what I was going to say: that it is more likely that a willingness to break taboos comes when there is scant regard for the sacred. When a priest can treat the Blessed Sacrament as if it was nothing special or think so little of Scripture that he replaces Biblical readings with secular ones during liturgies or any of the other abuses which mean that the Sacred Liturgy becomes a play thing of the celebrant, then I think there is danger.
Another point that interests me is that the bishop appears to be attacking liturgical abuse in both the Ordinary and Extraordinary Form but then it becomes confused. We read:
Women are denied all ministries at Mass: doing the Readings, the serving, the Bidding Prayers, and taking Communion to the Sick.
This can only refer to the Ordinary Form as no-one is allowed to be a reader or distribute Holy Communion at the Extraordinary Form unless they are in at least minor orders for reading or major for distributing the Eucharist. Are there really priests in Menevia who celebrate the Ordinary Form in this way? Fr Blake reminds us that a priest has the right to restrict serving to males as Rome has pointed out but in practice it takes a very strong-willed parish priest to do this and I don`t know of any who does.
That`s all I wanted to say: do read Fr Blake`s comments.