Head of US Catholic priests' largest group asks bishops to end clericalism
Bishops need to help priests right Church's wrongs and end culture of secrecy, says chair of the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests.
The Catholic Church in the United States needs to focus on three priorities: drawing the curtain on its culture of secrecy, ending clericalism, and giving women more roles in Church affairs, the chair of the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests (AUSCP) wrote in a letter to bishops dated June 4.
"We are in crisis. We need change," wrote Father Kevin Clinton, a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul – Minneapolis. "Please engage all of God's People in bringing about the needed change. Clericalism most especially must be eradicated, and women must be integrated."
He described priests as "collaborators" in this and pledged the full support of the AUSCP, which is due to meet from June 24-27 to discuss the sex abuse crisis and ways for all church members to work together more cohesively.
"Bishops have operated in secrecy for too long. You need to admit it and then you need to end it," Father Clinton wrote.
"We ask you as a bishop to do what Pope Francis urged you to do: dialogue with us, clergy and laity, attentively and with respect. Listen to us, engage us in setting direction for our Church, and accompany us as we do our work in our Church's field hospitals."
He highlighted how Pope Francis has urged clerics to foster "a deeply synodal and not only a hierarchical Church."
"People are increasingly aware that our Church remains diseased by the three deadly viruses flagged early in Vatican II: legalism, triumphalism, and clericalism. Those viruses generated among leadership pride, secrecy, and lack of accountability. We have got to address this crisis together."
He also lamented the shrinking number of ordained or adequately trained and empowered lay ministers, and asked for more assistance with priests' work at Church-run field hospitals "lest we decline further and implode."