Laity Should Take Blinders Off

As we await word on Msgr. Lynn’s case today, here is a good read on the clericalism of the laity.

“Priests pornography case reveals clericalism of the laity,” by Jamie L. Manson, National Catholic Reporter, June 1, 2011.

Excerpt – “What else can explain the fact that many members of the Roman Catholic laity continue to give the clergy a pass after committing crimes that would easily bring down political powerhouses and tycoons of industry?”

Recognizing that priests are human doesn’t have to negate earned respect. What are your thoughts?


Comment reminder: Please keep comments related to the post. If your comment rivals “War and Peace,” please consider submitting it as a guest blog. To do so, query via the Contact page. Thanks.

26 thoughts on “Laity Should Take Blinders Off

  1. The laity have been so conditioned to fully trust and submit to their bishops and priests that the process of change is greatly twarted. It is the wrong type of surrender.

    Our minds have been conditioned to not think for ourselves on church matters but to rely on the men who have been ordained by God Himself to guide us. This holds us back from truly experiencing the Lord in a personal way.

    I have labored with this problem for many years and do not have an immediate solution.

    Maybe this forum can generate some valuable thinking.

    1. I broke through “laity clericalism” by becoming informed and educated about the faith and church to which I belong.

      My B.A. and M.A. in theology help enormously.

      I have studied the Catholic Church for 39 years, with a particular focus on the priesthood.

      Daily, I read the plethora of news stories and commentaries that land in my email box. I subscribe to the National Catholic Reporter. I am a member of Voice of the Faithful. I travel to developing countries in Africa and the Caribbean, studying Catholic identity. At the college where I teach philosophy, I teach an adult workshop called “Exploring the Crisis in the Catholic Church.” I learn while preparing for both my philosophy classes and the workshop. I listen to and learn from my students.

      Knowledge and information eradicate “laity clericalism.”

      1. Yes, education and knowledge learned from a diverse experience is emancipating.

        You, me and many others on this forum have reached the same conclusion. My concern is for the People of God, the everyday baptised catholic lost in a system that refuses to emancipate them into thinking human beings baptised into Jesus Christ and destine for greatness.

        Our sisters and brothers are left to a limited experience of this divine reality.

  2. Nick
    I totally agree with the conditioning that you reference. I was always taught to have a reverence for priests – no matter what.
    What has helped me the most is that my husband is a convert to Catholicism. His attitudes towards priests is the same as that towards any other person he might encounter. He respects clergy who earn/deserve his respect and any clergy member who disrespects him or acts high and mighty – game over.
    Just in the past few years I have been able to break through the clericalism that I have been guilty of feeding into my whole life. I have challenged a few clergy members who exemplified the clericalism that exists within our Church. What I have found is that those clergy who hold tightest to their authority and power are those who when you strip it away-have very little to offer- no substance at all.
    I also have had great experiences with clergy,the ones who are down to earth,and act in a way that their Faith is something they want to share-not control.
    Giving clergy a free pass is not healthy for anyone-the priest or the congregation.

    1. It occurs to me reading this thread:
      Are we really discussing “clericalism” or “priestcraft?”

      Anyway, since I am posting, I’ll bring up another aspect: Is it not clear on reflection that the fact most Catholics are indoctrinated from cradle on the reason they seldom question what they are told? I declare right now– I’m free!
      I have absolutely no fear of what man can do to me. Christ will reward me for the works He approves, the rest will be burned up. 1 Corinthians 3:12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;1 Corinthians 3:13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.1 Corinthians 3:14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.1 Corinthians 3:15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

  3. Political powerhouses are accountable to their consituents and face being voted out of office… or, in the case of those running for office, must face being questioned in a public forum to the voters.

    Business tycoons are accountable to their stockholders and their boards of directors.

    The bishops and clergy are accountable to the Pope. I don’t see the leaders in our Church as seeing themselves accountable to the laity. Much more often, the laity seems to be ignored… or tolerated.

    1. If we think about it, the laity look up to those who are suppose to be serving them (clergy and bishops) and the servants (clergy and bishops)ignore those they should serve (laity).

      Rather twisted and highly disfunctional relationship. Its no wonder we get nowhere.

  4. From our earliest days, cradle Catholics have reverenced their priests. We have followed the example of our parents and our teachers. We accept the priestly caste as those who mediate our salvation; we go to God through them. Their special sign of ordination sets them apart and above us. They have the power and the right to cast us out.

    For most of my life I have believed that, even though I knew in my heart that I was God’s creature, filled with the same dignity as any of God’s creatures. Once I believed that I stood before God alone in my judgment hour, I knew that I was truly responsible for my life, my sins and my strengths. All those who had contributed to my life were just that, contributors.

    I am now blest to believe that there is no clergy person who is higher in the eyes of God than I. I have my own conscience, and my own free will. There is no one who can cast me out.

    I am free to see those around me as just as valuable before God as I am myself. I have been blest, and many have helped me to realize that, willingly or not.

    1. Elizabeth wrote:”From our earliest days, cradle Catholics have reverenced their priests. We have followed the example of our parents and our teachers. We accept the priestly caste as those who mediate our salvation; we go to God through them. Their special sign of ordination sets them apart and above us. They have the power and the right to cast us out.”

      I’d like to suggest that the reason kids leave off attending mass as soon as they leave home, one way or another, as I did- is because their natural sense tells them it is wrong, fake, phony and fraudulent. That they later may return [as I did]and go back to the practice is because they have a need for assurance, salvation and forgiveness. I thank God I found that — finally at age 44 in the gospel of grace:
      I Corinthians 15:1-4, Ephesians 1:13, Romans 16:25,26.
      Thank you, those who make this forum available for souls to speak out.

  5. I think the authors questions are perfect for everyone to ponder:

    “if the predator in question were not a priest but were, instead, a teacher or coach, would parents and teachers have moved more quickly and aggressively to have the situation dealt with? If parents found out that a public school superintendent, rather than a bishop, neglected to read a principal’s report about a teacher that had similarly sordid claims, would they not be relentless in calling for the superintendent’s resignation and prosecution of the teacher?”

    Even though I sent 12 years in Catholic school and learned respect for my elders from my parents and teachers, at the end of the day, it is my own instincts I trust the most. Hopefully through this forum, people will start to open their eyes and realize they have to call the police when these things are happening!

    1. The problem is that children don’t know that, and pedophile priests know that children don’t know that. Read the Phila Grand Jury report. They prey on the children with broken homes, deceased parents, or any other child that is vulnerable. Frankly, all children under 16 are vulnerable, and they are smart enough to know that.

      This is where a Catholic community is supposed to help the children, but they don’t. At the very least, if the child is raped, the Catholic community should help, but they don’t. In fact, their initial reaction is always to accuse the victim of lying. This also has the benefit of preventing other victims from coming forward.

      The Catholic congregation is following the leadership of their leaders, and I know why. If the victims are proven to be victims, and they are awarded money for therapy, some churches would have to be sold.

      The next implication is that instead of going to a one hour mass once a week in a gorgeous church on the best real estate in every town, they’d go to a one hour mass in a warehouse or gymnasium to worship God. The priests and bishops that committed, condoned, and concealed child rape would have to live in less beautiful housing.

      This choice is unacceptable to the Catholic congregation.

      Here’s the tough love – their choice is unacceptable to God.

      Now tell me where I’m wrong.

      1. I don’t think you’re wrong anywhere, Patrick. I was specifically addressing the parent’s responsibility to call the police, not just report it to another Catholic leader or to block a child from contact in the school yard. You’re right – these preditors prey on the weakest of the weak and vulnerable. It’s the adults job to protect at all costs. That said, there are plenty of adults out there that accuse unjustly as well.

        For me personally, I’m done with the Catholic church. Have been for a long time. But I support Susan and the other’s efforts in calling this out and giving us all a voice.

  6. For perspective, suppose the Hess letter, pictures, computers, actions, and people were all associated with the Kansas City xxxx Co., Inc., headed by Mister Bob Finn. How would that change the situation? Should it?

    Mr. Bob Finn is unlikely to have published a pastoral letter on “… the Dignity of the Human Person and the Dangers of Pornography” as the bishop did (2/21/07). Otherwise, each situation is one of several people interacting to enable repeated activity which is flagrantly, grossly “inappropriate” by commonly accepted community standards as observed by many people on many occasions (see Hess letter for standards). The issue is public safety and the welfare of local children and should be treated as such, independent of the clothes and titles the collaborators wear.

    In hindsight, we might wish Finn and his Vicar had spent an hour talking with Julie Hess, tested and found adequately responsible to run a Catholic school, before talking at Ratigan. She might have also advised them well on dealing with individuals who misbehave, drawing on her experience. Men whose primary criterion for judgment is whether or not they are looking at felonious behavior don’t belong where those two sit. In this case, the laity knew better and went to what they had a right to assume was the appropriate authority. Wrong. A multi-national pattern is clear.

  7. The ‘rcc’ has been successful in convincing the faithful to give up free will in exchange for safety which is an illusion that the faithful buy into , in that by doing so the faithful will be saved.

    The attitude of the ‘pope /rcc’ worldwide has been that of arrogance, just look at the countries where the ‘rcc’ has sexually abused children and then try to place the blame on society, and the faithful will buy into this. From what I see very few catholics are really concerned with the VICTIMS, as long it isn’t their child then this is the cost of salvation !

    1. I agree with you, “unabletotrust”. regarding the laity’s lack of concern for OTHER people’s children and it has bothered me greatly. I have heard parents of children the age of my children say that, since they have instructed their children never to be alone with a stranger, they feel secure and okay with things. First of all, this is false security, because many children who have been hurt by adults went with them willingly EVEN when they had been told not to do so. IT HAPPENS. Secondly, the attitude of ,”as long as my child’s okay, I am not concerned” is so disheartening to me. Can they not empathize with the parent of an abused child? Reading about what has happened to these poor children makes me emotionally ill and brings shivers to my spine. And with the cover-up, it’s even more upsetting. I’m not saying that I don’t have plenty of my own selfish moments, but such self-absorption, in large numbers, is truly detrimental to the community as a whole, especially our children. Sometimes, it does “take a village” to help our children.

    2. “The attitude of the ‘pope /rcc’ worldwide has been that of arrogance, just look at the countries where the ‘rcc’ has sexually abused children and then try to place the blame on society, and the faithful will buy into this. From what I see very few catholics are really concerned with the VICTIMS, as long it isn’t their child then this is the cost of salvation !”


  8. I was brought up Catholic, and went to Catholic school my whole life. I was taught not to think – I was taught to believe.

    So I believed in God, and did so because I was told to do so by people that my parents trusted. Most of the rules made sense, like not cheating, stealing, and lying, so you followed them. I trusted.

    You’ll hate me for saying it, but now you find out that the Catholic church is an coordinated, organized empire of lying. They commit the world’s worst crime (with the exception of child murder), and they are organized to lie about it, because they thought the truth would get them in trouble. They all agreed and conspired to break the most basic, simple rules of their own God.

    This is going to sound crazy, but just imagine that they’ve been doing this for 2000 years. They’ve been lying because the truth would get them in trouble. Its now hard to believe anything that they say, especially things you can’t prove.

    If you believe that God does exist, why would He let the truth about all of this come forward? The only explanation is that He wants the entire conspiracy destroyed and restarted with the honesty He demands.

    The Catholic church made it 2000 years because people trusted them. Now we absolutely, positively know that we can’t trust them. It won’t make it 30 more years with the current level of trust.

  9. Patrick: First nice pix. Secondly, they have gotten away with it for 2000 years because for this time period up to and the 1960’s they (clergy) were the best educated.

    Now, the vast majority of the developed world have entered the educated class. Our globe is opened to more information. People began to think more and challenge the old order.

    Let’s use this gift from the Lord to create our new world.

    We do not need to be enslaved any longer. Christ freed us, now live in the freedom of the children of God.

    1. True, and my cause is to fight for the victims. When I die, I know I’ll get to cut in front of the rest of the Catholic congregation, who will be sitting outside saying, “why aren’t any of the bishops and priests up here?”

      1. Patrick O’Malley,
        The time has come, I believe, for you to answer this question: What do you want the catholic people to do?
        You say “don’t follow the hierarchy”, but what do you want them to do? Follow you?

        What do you offer, besides ditching the hierarchy?

        Do you imagine that just magically, without the hierarchy– everything will fall into place and there will be Kumbaya, warm fuzzies, and good feelings every Sunday at Mass?

        Just tell me what you are really after. I am telling Catholics that they only need turn to their bibles, and learn without the Roman eyes what God’s Word is calling them to, personally, directly, and apart from interference.

        I am te

      2. Gerald,

        Here is what I want the Catholic people to do:

        1) Follow the rules and spirit of God. Do What Jesus Would Do.

        – protect all of God’s children as if they were your own
        – give complete compassion to the victims. Sell churches if you have to in order to pay for their therapy

        2) Fight like you are fighting child rapists, and your child is next, or your child was raped.

        3) Fight like your place in eternity depends on it. Why am I the only person who thinks your place in eternity depends on what you do or don’t do with the challenges God gave you?

        4) Fight like you want God to be proud of your strength. You don’t need much. No one will kill you or harm you.

        5) Protest in front of churches, as I’ve said before. If 10 people do, the get spit on (as Rich said). If 110 people do, they get respect, and they will convince the rest of the congregation about something that is so obvious to me. Hand out flyers referencing the Philly Grand Jury report.

        6) Stand up when they do the collection, and don’t give. People will ask you, and you can educate them.

        That’s a start. Pretend you are going to die tomorrow, and God is going to ask you what you did for God’s children that were

        – raped by priests
        – lied to by bishops
        – ignored by everyone

        Pretend your children’s future depends on it. Pretend the future of the Catholic religion depends on it. Pretend this means the difference between heaven and hell for you. It does for the victims.

    2. Boy! Dr. Mazza and Mr. O’Malley have opened up a chasm of possibilities with those two posts. !!!

      Questioning/speculating on what God wants?
      Hmmmm. Where do we start?

  10. Sunday at mass we were introduced to the seminarian who will be summering with us. My thought, during the introduction, was “Wonder what’s wrong with this one?” That is a sad commentary on what our corrupt Bishops have done to the Faith of a very traditional Catholic. Now I must face the 800 lb Gorilla in the room. What normal male would promise to engage in the very unnatural practice known as celibacy? I think we have the answer now. Mandatory celibacy is a myth. Even the Bishops don’t, in practice, demand it.

  11. Patrick
    I have a question.How have all of the tactics that you describe – worked out for you in Massachutes? When you stand up in a Church and speak out – do people follow you out the door and join your cause? When you organize 100 people to protests outside of Catholic churches – do you find that the people who were going to attend mass instead join in your protests?
    I don’t disagree with you passion – I just think that realistically people are not going to change their minds because of people protesting,standing up during mass..etc…How has that worked for you in Massachutes? I know you are no longer Catholic-don’t blame you at all for that.But you have such legitimate concern for this issue that I imagine you have followed through on these actions that you always recommend to others.So what is the succes rate?

    1. I’ll be very honest – I can’t get anyone to care about it.

      Most of my Catholic friends don’t take being Catholic seriously, and left the church completely or go to mass only on Easter and Christmas, like the majority of Catholics. Walking away and not caring is certainly the most time efficient solution.

      The few friends that are still going to church regularly don’t care about the child rape scandal either. They are Catholics of convenience, believing that going to mass and getting the proper number of “mass credits” will get them into heaven. They will say they disagree with the way the church handled victims, but that the scandal is over. They tell me they don’t contribute, but that’s as much work as they will put in.

      I went to New Hampshire to see a mass given for victims by Archbishop McCormack, the “pedophile pimp” who moved dozens of known pedophile priests who went on to rape hundreds of children. The remaining Catholics of NH just don’t care. They think their ticket to heaven depends on doing what they are told by bishops and not by God.

      The reason this can be done in Philadelphia is that it’s the only place in the country where you had a Grand Jury inquiry, and documented proof that

      – this was child rape and not “inappropriate touching”
      – these these priests were depraved beyond compare
      – that the hierarchy definitely knew, definitely hid it, and moved known pedophiles
      – that they lied about hiding the priests right up until February of this year

      If I had this info for Boston, I could convince people, but I don’t. It has become part of the nature of the Catholic follower not to care or feel compassion, and the few remaining church-goers certainly don’t care up here. They barely care in Philadelphia and Kansas City, and those two cities have so much powerful evidence.

      If there was a major event down there, I might actually drive the 10 hours. As it is, I will do what I can on the internet, and I will continue to try to psychoanalyze how 1.2 billion Catholics could be convinced that child rape isn’t a big deal.

      1. I re-read this entire thread- so this reply is to all

        the posts in general.
        Haditcatholic said “I studied the CC for 39 years.”
        How about 53 years? That’s not counting my Catholic

        education up to age 26 and if I added that it comes to

        61 years.

        As to the Roman priesthood: They live a privileged

        life, or used to.Once did.

        Patrick: I am only motivated to be what apostle Paul

        calls an ambassador of Christ, while Christ is “exiled

        in heaven;” to tell all- including Catholics–they are

        reconciled to God by Christ’s cross [death, burial and

        resurrection.]II Cor. 5:20 Now then we are ambassadors

        for Christ, as though God did beseech you
        by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye

        reconciled to God.
        2CO5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who

        knew no sin; that we might
        be made the righteousness of God in him.

        Note: I wrote most of this post before learning you

        are ex-Catholicand that has affected/skewed my

        understanding of your views.

        You, very strongly, advocate the laity to overthrow

        the clergy and take back their church as it

        were.Then– you say, they will gain heaven because

        they are pleasing God. They won’t gain heaven unless

        each believes the “gospel of their salvation” (Eph.

        1:13)This gospel is most clearly presented in I Cor.

        15:1-4, and believe it outside of “Roman


        I am analying the last post from Patrick addressed to

        me, and a truth is , I believe, materializing.[It is a

        wonder anything at all comes from my pen- because- I

        note that I don’t remember today what I posted

        yesterday.] But I’ll keep on because it must be God

        helping me– I can’t do it myself.The truth that is

        “bubbling up” is that- on one hand–I am telling

        Catholics they need to stop being Catholics in what

        they base their Eternity on– and instead believe the

        gospel– but you, on the other hand, are telling them

        [here]they will get into heaven AS Catholics– if only

        they do the things on Your checklist. Never Happen!
        Not according to the Word of God.

Leave a Reply