Sunday, May 22, 2011

Does Rome Have a Bias against America?

I received this email from a reader and promised to respond to it
Something just came to mind from reading your blog posts.  America magazine and even to some degree American Catholic (Franciscans out of Ohio) are panned by some as too liberal.  Are "America" and "American" charged words in Roman Catholicism?  Does having "America" in their names suggest an intentional desire to emphasize their ties to American Catholicism over European Catholicism?
Or am I just reading too much into that?  I can't think of a Catholic publication, radio program, etc. that people consider "conservative" here in the states that has "America" in its name.
This is a great question.  And in one word the answer is “yes.” 
In this blog I have a series on the history of the Catholic Church in the United States.   It is a topic I intend to return to—especially a more close examination of the history of the Church in the colonial and revolutionary period in which Catholicism in the British North American colonies and in the infant republic was stamped with a democratic character, an ecumenical openness, and a reluctance to exert power in political and social matters.  In case you haven’t noticed, that isn’t the contemporary Catholic take—either here in the U.S. from the Bishops or in Rome from the Holy See.  It was only at the turn of the nineteenth-twentieth centuries that Rome even began to notice that there was a Catholic Church in the United States and that it was quite different in character from the European model of Church.  Let me refer back to the entry of  April 13th  2011 where I wrote:

The Holy See was increasingly frustrated with the American Church.  They were appalled at its openness to non-Catholics, they were fearful of its democratic heritage, and they did not understand why it was so unable to influence the society in which it was rooted.  The Holy See saw a potential for power in the American Church that it had not itself yet recognized.  While it may have been only a small fragment of the general population, it was the largest—and fastest growing—religious body in the United States.  Surely with the right sort of leadership it could leverage itself from its position in the shadows of American Presbyterianism, Methodism, and Episcopalianism into the  catbird seat of American public influence.  All it needed was the right leadership..

There was a definite change in leadership style in the American Church after 1900 and the appointment of William O’Connell at Archbishop of  Boston and his soon thereafter appointment to the College of Cardinals.  Over the years, and especially the mid-century period there was some backsliding into American oriented prelates being appointed from Rome.  While men like Mundelein and Spellman could not have been more loyal to Rome, they were also died-in-the wool Americans, particularly in the issue of separation of Church and State where they defended the American aberration from Roman Doctrine, and the American spirit began to revive.    During the papacy of Paul VI and especially the years that Jean Jadot was Apostolic Delegate this Americanism thrived.  In the 70’s and ’80’s there were appointed remarkable bishops that took Vatican II to the limits of its revolutionary doctrines—men like Cardinal Bernadin, Cardinal Shehan of Baltimore, Archbishop Hallinan, Bishop Clark of Rochester, Bishop Kenneth Untener of Saginaw, Bishop Howard Hubbard of Albany, Archbishop Roach of St. Paul, Archbishop Kelly of Louisville, Archbishop Hunthausen of Seattle, Archbishop Quinn of San Francisco, and many others.   The election of John Paul II, however, marked a sure but steady change of direction in the Church and under John Paul, and now with Pope Benedict, the first and all important characteristic for appointment to the hierarchy is an unquestioning loyalty to Rome.  Now, there is nothing wrong with this.  Indeed the unity of the Church requires that the various dioceses throughout the world, through their bishops, are firmly cemented in unity with the See of Peter.  But what is worth noting is that the emphasis that this is given; the loyalty and total obedience to every detail of the authority of the Holy See is a clear indication that Rome does not trust the American Church.  For a wider discussion of this topic, you might want to check the various blog entries under the labels “Americanism” and “American Catholics and Roman Catholics.”
The only thing I want to add to this, is that I am very familiar with Rome and the
Curia Romana
.  I have lived and worked in Rome for various periods totaling about ten years of my adult life.  I am normally in Rome two to four times a year.  I have many friends in Rome with whom I am in regular contact and who stay with me when in the States or whom I meet at various international meetings.  The vast majority of these friends are Italian and are connected in some way or other with international Catholicism.  Indeed, the vast majority are clergy, some holding Vatican posts. 
My experience is, and I will speak only from experience, that Curial officials, especially the Europeans in the Italians in particular, have strong cultural biases against America in the realms of culture, religious practice, and law.  They openly mock American culture in terms of art, music, literature, cuisine, education, and intellectual work. The Italians in particular tend to be very culturally isolated believing that there is nothing beyond the Alps that compares to anything Italian.  There is a strong degree of Racism, especially directed towards peoples of South-East Asia and Africa.   What is tragic about this is that Church attendance among American Catholics—while it could be better—is six times that of Italian Catholics.  There is no comparison t the financial support given the Church—both locally and to the Holy See—between American and Italian faithful.  For all the issues about celibacy, it is far better observed in the American Church than it is among Italian clergy.  The American Church has issues, but it is a far more vibrant Church than one finds anywhere in Western Europe.  Far from being a model for the Americans, the European Church—and the Italian Church in particular—has much it could learn from us (and from other national Churches around the world) and the tampering in American Church life by Rome is doing far more damage than help.  Indeed, the Curia should get the beam out of their own eye before they try to clear up the speck in ours.

Friday, May 20, 2011

History in the Making: The Sex-Abuse Crisis--Let's Stop Telling Lies

The John Jay College of Criminal Justice released its report on the underlying causes of the sex-abuse crisis in the Catholic Church this past week.  The study was commissioned (and in great part paid for) by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops.  It was a good idea to look for the roots of the problem and the John Jay College of Criminal Justice is an unimpeachable judge to the issue.  Nevertheless something went peculiarly wrong. 
The report found guilty the permissive atmosphere of the ‘6o’s and ’70’s.  Innocent of causing the immense harm done to thousands are mandatory celibacy, an all male priesthood, and homosexuality,
A study is only as good as how its purpose and limitations are defined and this study was skewed in that such controversial issues of Catholic doctrine and discipline (celibacy and all male priesthood) would not be called into question.
I am the first to agree that the issue is not celibacy.  Nor is it an all male priesthood.  I suspect that it is not even homosexuality—per se.  That is the root of the problem is not celibacy per se nor an all male priesthood, per se; nor homosexuality, per se. But in fact it may only be homosexuality—per se—that isn’t part of the foundational problem. 
Celibacy, when freely chosen by a psycho-sexually mature individual, is a noble adornment to the Church.  The man or woman who is capable of healthy intimacy but who renounces the rewards and compensations (and trials and heartache) of marriage and family to devote his or herself to the work of the Gospel is a witness to the compelling nature of the call to preach the Kingdom of God. 
The problem is that mandatory celibacy has proven to be a refuge for countless men (and some women) whose psycho-sexual maturity is at best questionable.  Individuals who are uncertain of their sexual identity or who are not comfortable with sexual identity or sexual appetites and feelings can be drawn to priesthood or religious life as an escape from having to confront the uncomfortable and challenging aspects of their own personalities. Let me give some examples.
In my workshops and teaching I have a fair amount of contact with enclosed (cloistered) nuns and been surprised how (proportionately) many have been victims of sexual abuse—primarily by family members or close friends of their families.  Withdrawal into the cloister has represented to them safety.  Now, when I say “how many,” compared to the numbers of women in society who have been victims of sexual abuse (some estimates are as high as 1 in 5) it is nowhere near that high. That “high” represents a cross-section of total mid and late -20th century American society.  The picture changes when you look at the section of society from which these nuns come—that is to say European descent, white or blue collar, middle and upper-middle class, Catholic families and with high-school or college diploma.  Sexual abuse, especially abuse by a family member, knows no social, educational, racial, or economic boundaries, yet neither is it distributed equally throughout society.  I have no scientific evidence or even formal research on this issue, it is only an impression, but an impression built up over thirty years and stronger with each encounter. 
Let me also say that for many women who have been exploited in their youth, contemplative life within a sympathetic community of women, some of whom have shared the burden of having been abused, has been very therapeutic and many women have come to a health and maturity in their self-identity.  It is an example of where grace builds on nature.   
I wish I could say the same for men.  Here I think we need to break them into sub-groups which have certain features in common with one another and distinct to each group.  I would speak first of the monastic and semi-monastic communities, secondly of the apostolic communities, and thirdly of diocesan priests and societies of secular priests.
With women, or at least enclosed women, the issue that drew those with psycho-sexual issues has usually been instance of abuse in their pre-convent years, generally adolescent and post-adolescent.  With men, celibacy seems to draw to religious life or priesthood those whose issue is  avoiding dealing with sexual identity, most notably those who are confused about their being heterosexual or homosexual or those who sense themselves to be homosexual and are trying to avoid the implications of that awareness or to render it neutralized by adopting a celibate lifestyle.  This is not to say that same-sex attraction is not an issue among religious women, sisters (as distinct from enclosed nuns) in particular, but it doesn’t seem to be as strong an issues as it is among priests and religious men. 
In regard to those who are confused about whether they are (predominately) heterosexual or homosexual, a life of public celibacy permits them to avoid the issue.  They (think that they) don’t need to know the answer to the question that troubles them within.  Instead of being one or the other, they will choose a lifestyle that permits them—indeed seems to mandate them—to be neither. This is probably why the numbers of gay priests is so hard to pin down.  In addition to men who have come to terms with their same-sex attraction, and to those who are genuinely heterosexual, you have a considerable number of homosexual priests who are either trying desperately to convince themselves and others that they are “straight,” or in denial of any sexual identity at all.  Any estimates on the percentage of priests who are gay versus those who are “straight” must be based on criterion other than how the priests themselves identify themselves. 
In monastic or semi-monastic life this illusion of being-asexual gives way faster than it usually does in the apostolic communities or among diocesan or secular priests.  By monastic communities I mean those communities of men that are enclosed religious such as the Cistercians or some Benedictine groups.  By semi-monastic I mean monks from abbeys with apostolic ministries—parishes, schools, colleges.  Also semi-monastic should include those medieval mendicant communities with a more highly developed spirituality and intentional community life.  A deep interior life requires the individual to search every nook and cranny of the soul (psyche), shining the light of the Gospel (mental prayer) into every recess and coming to know oneself with as close an approximation to the Divine Knowledge of oneself as grace and honest prayer allow.  Moreover, a mature and secure community environment allows the individual the safety to raise the troubling questions and usually provides the fraternal support to face whatever truths emerge. 
It is often somewhat different in apostolic communities.  Some apostolic communities have as rich a spiritual tradition and practice as the most contemplative of monks.  I think particularly of the Society of Jesus.  Many however have more a sustaining piety than a genuine spirituality; or they have a spirituality but it is one that is meant to channel the energy outward into service of others without the rigorous solitude, the sort of pseudo-desert as it were, that will allow no stone to remain unturned in the search of self-knowledge.  In these communities it is possible for those who wish, and most of us wish to avoid hard work and to flee the unpleasant questions, to avoid dealing with the issues of psycho-sexual identity that drew us to lives of celibacy in the first place.  And then if “community” is not so much a network of relationships but more a catering and laundry service that frees more time for ministry, the individual often will not have developed the trust skills to let him allow others to accompany and share the burdens of self-knowledge. 
And then we have the secular priests, whether those who belong to some sort of society of non-vowed priests (Opus Dei, Oratorians, various missionary societies) or who are priests of an individual diocese. I have been very distressed to see how few secular and diocesan priests have a genuine spirituality.  They usually have a corporate piety—a set of exterior practices which regulate their relationship to God—but not a genuine spirituality that brings them into a profound and humbling encounter with God.  Their prayer is primarily that set of external practices: mass, the office, the rosary, “visits” to the Blessed Sacrament—all of which is done with devotion—but which doesn’t rise from within and bring to the surface with it all the spiritual angst of truthful self-assessment.    
Two key words in differentiating spirituality from piety are “interior” and “humbling.”  Genuine spirituality—and again I am a historian and am speaking from the writings of the mystics—shifts the balance of prayer from external practice to interior silence, indeed almost to the point of inactivity.  “Almost” is important as we don’t want to mistake quietism for orthodox spirituality.  The liturgy and even some measure of devotional prayer persist but the individual finds his or her truest prayer to be in silent attention to the Divine Mystery unfolding within his or her heart.  Genuine spirituality not only moves the individual from the Mystery without to the Mystery within, but brings the individual into a frank self-awareness where in the Divine Image as it unfolds in his or her soul one sees one’s own self reflected for both who one is and who one is called to be.  Genuine spirituality leaves no choice but an interior journey of self-discovery and self-knowledge.  The issues of one’s sexual identity must be dealt with—there is not only no escaping the question, there is no escape from the answers.
Too often I have dealt with priests and religious who are in profound denial of their sexual identity.  They tell gay-bashing jokes and use vulgar terms that deride gay people, or they are legalistic, harsh and unsympathetic in the confessional while they themselves are running from their own same-sex attraction. The most dangerous sexual-predators come from these ranks.  With no one they trust enough to confide in, with no one with whom they are sufficiently intimate to share their journey of self-exploration, they are lone wolves and when they see vulnerable prey—they jump at the bait.  Incapable of sufficient trust for adult-adult relationships, they turn to the only relationships in which they are secure: relationships with the younger, the less mature and/or the vulnerable.  In the case of priests or male religious who are gay this leads to inappropriate relationships with young men or post pubescent boys; with those who are “straight,” with underage and/or vulnerable women.  Of course, in the case of genuine pedophiles—those attracted to pre-pubescent children—we are dealing with a different phenomenon entirely, a genuinely psychiatric disorder.  This seems to be a very small number of clergy, no higher than that of the larger American population. 
So to say that celibacy is not an issue is, I believe, very misleading. Mandatory celibacy not only rules out those who choose adult-adult heterosexual life-commitments but provides an attraction and a cover for the psychosexually immature.  Some of these mature in the process of spiritual growth and healthy fraternity.  Others, unfortunately do not.  Spiritual maturity and healthy community will not change a person’s basic sexual orientation, but it will empower him (or her) to live as spiritually (and therefore psychologically) healthy adults.   
Perhaps on a future blog we can look at how an all-male leadership model complicates this picture, but for now what might bear thinking about is what seminaries and religious formation programs, as well as clergy on-going education and formation,  need to do to foster psycho-sexual maturation.   This probably won’t happen until psycho-sexual maturity becomes an identified criterion for hierarchical leadership.   

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Catholic Plot to Kill Lincoln: The Movie

A
Mary Surratt
I went the other evening to see The Conspirator, the Robert Redford film on Mary Surratt and the Lincoln assassination.  Some months ago (February 17, 2011) I did a blog entry on Catholic involvement in the plot that took the life of our sixteenth president.  District of Columbia and Southern Maryland Catholics overwhelmingly were pro-Confederacy and anti-Lincoln.  (Alleged) conspirators Mary Surratt and her son, John, David Herold, Michael O’Laughlen, and  Dr. Samuel Mudd were all Catholics.  So too, by some accounts, was John Wilkes  Booth; his sister was a convert and said that Booth too had converted to Catholicism, though it seems that he was not a committed practitioner of the faith.   
The film, quite good historically (though not meticulous in detail) is clear about Mary Suratt’s religious affiliation but her faith itself is not particularly sustaining to her, much less an organizing principle of her life.  She almost constantly fingers her rosary and (for a Catholic) she is amazingly adept at quoting scripture.  In fact she is perhaps a little too facile with biblical quotes for credibility given the piety of the times. The movie shows her being attended by one priest, Father Jacob Walter; in fact there were two—both Jesuits from Gonzaga—the other being Fr.B.F. Wiget.   Nor does the movie let you know that her Catholic faith could have worked against her. To the contrary—it implies that her defense attorney, Captain Frederick Aiken of the United States Army—tried to portray her as a devout Christian woman in an attempt to gain sympathy for her.  But anti-Catholicism ran strong in mid-nineteenth century America.  Not all agreed that Catholics were Christians—indeed literature such as Foxe’s Book of Martyrs portrayed Catholics as the murders of the “Saints”—the true Christians. The Confederate sympathies of so many Maryland and District of Columbia Catholics would have left Mary Surratt vulnerable to guilt by association.    A French-Canadian former priest, Charles Chiniquy alleged that the Lincoln assassination was indeed a collaborative plot between Pope Pius IX and the Jesuits—though these allegations, in printed form, came twenty years after Mrs. Surratt had been hanged.  That only demonstrates the tenacity of anti-Catholic prejudice among certain sectors of the American people.  
Father Walter, the priest in the movie, seems somewhat complicit himself in the plot—at least in so far as he knows where John Surratt, Mary’s son who was a friend of Booth, the one who had invited him into the Surratt boarding house, was hiding.  (This is one of the historical flaws.  The movie implies that Surratt was hiding out in the woods not far from DC while, in fact, he was hiding out—under Catholic auspices—in Canada.  He would go to Europe and serve in the Papal army before being arrested by American agents in Alexandria Egypt).  All in all, it is a good movie and well worth seeing. 

History in the Making: History and its Pricey Baggage

So the Queen, God Save Her, expressed “sincere thoughts and deep sympathy” with all those in Ireland who “who have died or been injured and their families…all those who suffered as a consequence of our troubled past,” but stopped short of an apology, much less of asking forgiveness.  But then, we aren’t about to apologize for the tribulations of the Native Americans or the descendents of those who were brought here as slaves—much less ask their forgiveness.  Of course Pope Benedict has apologized—several times and over various international visits—to those who suffered sexual, physical, or emotional abuse at the hands of the Institutional Church or its clergy and religious.  And has it made any difference, really?  Maybe it’s time that we look into our hearts and ask ourselves if we have the capacity to ask those whom we have harmed for forgiveness and, perhaps even more important, to accept and respond to the requests for forgiveness when others make that request of us.  There are some things in history—personal histories as well as the histories of peoples—that we might never get over but how tragic when we refuse to allow ourselves to move forward with the lives we have. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Roots of the Reformation XV: Anti-Clericalism and Reformation, a case study

Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury
who fostered the Reformation in England
We had been talking about clerical privilege and the resulting anti-clericalism in sixteenth-century Europe on the brink of the Protestant Reformations and I would like to continue exploring that topic so that we can see how a clerical culture works against the welfare of the Church.  I think that this topic is interesting in the light of the mentality that created the attempted cover-up of the contemporary sex-abuse scandal in the Church.  Perhaps in a few days we can look at the newly released report on the sex-abuse scandal by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and see how that report is yet another attempt by some within the Church to circle the clerical wagons to protect the clerical system rather than to address the fundamental changes that are necessary for the Church to function effectively in today’s society. 
A sixteenth-century Case History: Richard Hunne was a merchant-tailor in the City of London in the early sixteenth century.  His infant son, Stephen, died in 1511 and his funeral was at the Church of Saint Mary Matfellon, Whitechapel, London.  The priest, Thomas Dryffeld, demanded the infant’s christening gown in which the tiny corpse was dressed, for a fee.  Now this sounds gruesome to the modern reader, but it was standard in the Middle Ages that the various trappings of a funeral—the pall that covered the body, any cloths or bunting with which the church was draped for the funeral, and even the shroud in which the corpse was dressed belonged to the priest by ways of fee.  Also any candles or other decorations that were used went to the priest. They would be resold to the undertaker (or in the case of candles, to the chandler) who could then sell them to the next grieving family for re-use.  The baby most likely, at least by custom, would not have been buried in the Christening gown in any case but have been simply wrapped in linen or wool before being interred.  Nevertheless Richard Hunne begrudged the priest the gown. He was a tailor, a very wealthy tailor, and the gown was of some more than usual value.  Hunne could have afforded it.  He was a man of means.  But on principle he would not give in. It is difficult to know psychological motives of a person long dead unless they have left us some strong indication, and Hunne probably did not even understand himself why he was so tenacious on this point.  Perhaps he was angry over the death of his son; that is a normal reaction at the death of someone we love.  And the anger over the death of a child often is directed towards God—or religious figures who “represent” God to us—because we simply don’t know where else to direct it.  We just don’t know why, on Hunne’s part, this escalated as it did, but it did.
Dryffeld for his part would not give in either and had Hunne summoned before the Archbishop’s court at Lambeth for settlement.  The auditor of the case, Cuthbert Tunstall, would later be Bishop of London under both Henry VIII and Queen Mary.  Tunstall had no axe to grind and simply applied the law.  Hunne was ordered to give over the Christening gown or its value—6s 8d  (probably about $225.00 in today’s money).  There was no further punishment and Tunsall ignored Dryffeld’s demands that Hunne be excommunicated.  One would think that the end of the matter.  It wasn’t.
Hunne went to St. Mary Matfellon for evensong on December 27th, the feast of Saint John the Evangelist.  The priest conducting the service, this time Henry Marshall, Dryffeld’s vicar, recognized him and stopped the service, shouting that that Hunne was an excommunicate (he wasn’t, as I just wrote) and under the curse of the Church.  The service,  Marshall shrieked, could not continue until Hunne left.  The scene was costly to Hunne’s business as devout Catholics would have nothing to do with an excommunicate.  On the other hand, it seems Hunne was baiting the priest for this church, Saint Mary Matfellon, was not Hunne’s parish and was over two miles from Hunne’s home.  Moreover, Hunne had brought a party of friends with him to the service and they all stomped out together.  In the event, Hunne sued Marshall for slander in the Court of King’s Bench.
The case is very complex and we don’t need to go into all the details as we will only end up losing our point, but it involves the fact that in England at the time there were two judicial systems—the King’s and the Church’s.  Certain offenses were to be tried in Church court—Hunne’s refusal to pay the mortuary fee to the priest, for example, was a matter for an ecclesiastical court, not the King’s Bench.  Also, certain persons could only be tried in Church court,  the clergy—from the Archbishop of Canterbury down to the lowliest parish clark—in point of fact.  This privilege of exemption from the King’s Justice was a sore point for many going back to the time of Thomas Becket whose fights with Henry II were on this exact point of clerical exemption from civil law.  At this very moment, Parliament was debating a bill to strip the lower clergy (those below the rank of subdeacon, such as acolytes, lectors, porters, etc.) of privilege in Church courts, demanding that they be tried for their crimes as everyone else in King’s Bench.  Hunne by bringing the slander case against a priest into the King’s Bench was denying the right of the Church to try a case involving a member of the clergy.  This implied that the Church was subject to the Crown.  This was a dangerous compromise of clerical privilege.  The Bishop of London thus went on to have Hunne arrested for “heresy.”  The “heresy” substantially is denying the supremacy of the Church over the State. 
Hunne was confined in Lollards’ tower—the prison reserved for heretics—in the Archbishop of Canterbury’s London residence, Lambeth Palace.  Two days later, December 4th, 1514 he was found hanging in his cell.  The jailers said it was suicide.  The coroner’s jury said it was murder.  Witnesses came forward and testified that they had heard members of the Bishop of London’s household plan the murder.  One witness said that a servant of the Bishop had told him, the witness, that Hunne would be dead by Christmas.  It seems that agents of the Bishop of London had attempted to murder Hunne in his cell by inserting a red-hot wire through his nostril into his brain—leaving no trace of violence and making the death appear natural.  However there was a struggle, and in the struggle Hunne’s neck was broken.  The corpse was hung to make it appear that the broken neck was the result of him having committed suicide by hanging. 
Hunne was posthumously judged guilty of heresy and his body burned.  As a convicted heretic, the Church confiscated his estate—leaving his wife and children penniless.   This caused a huge outcry among the merchants of the city.  Hunne was one of them, a member of the Guild of the Merchant Tailors, one of the guilds that controlled the political establishment of the city.  When the Reformation came to England, it was slow to spread among the nobility and among the working classes—but it spread like wildfire among the business classes.  They were educated and they were self-made men (and women) and they were ready to move on from the world of clerical privilege and control. 
There are differences and there are similarities between the anticlericalism before the Reformations of the sixteenth century and today but we would do well to look at the estrangement that many are finding between the Institutional Church and its spokesmen and many run-of-the-mill Catholics.    



Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Roots of the Reformation XIV: A Historical Take on Anti-Clericalism and the Protestant Reformations.

The medieval English Church at
Dartmouth in Southern England
I mentioned in our last entry that anti-clericalism is a very important monitor of danger for the Church.  Distrust of or discontent with the clergy undermines the Church as an institution and alienates people from the practice of the faith.  I want to look at this from a historical perspective.
One of the characteristics of the Churches that sprang out of the series of sixteenth-century Reformations that we call “Protestant” is the amount of control the laity exercise in Church matters.  Indeed for the most part in the Churches of the Reformation the distinction between laity and clergy is all but obliterated.  The roots of this declericalization was not doctrinal but rather a reaction to the abuses of clerical power in the late medieval Church.  Doctrines such as “The Priesthood of All Believers” which stamp most Protestant Tradition arose because of the strong anti-clerical mood in European society.  In other words, the doctrines were primarily a reaction to the exaggerated clericalism of the medieval Church.  And—by the way—we Catholics must remember that those doctrines are not heretical but at most an exaggeration of the authentic Apostolic Tradition which we call “The Baptismal Priesthood”  or the “Priesthood of the Faithful” which is rooted in the New Testament and in the Fathers and is celebrated in the official Liturgy of the Catholic Churchy, most notably but not exclusively in the rites of the Sacrament of Baptism.       
In the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries there was a serious rise of anti-clericalism in Europe and in retrospect we can see how it made the Catholic Church vulnerable to the Reformers as well as paved the way for the Churches of the Reformation where the authority of the clergy was almost invariably replaced by strong lay control.  Calvin’s Geneva is one such example.  While John Calvin was the preacher and theologian for the Reformed Church in Geneva, actual power was exercised not by Calvin but by the town council which had determined that the Catholicism would be replaced by the Reformed Religion.  The Council often went against Calvin in its decisions about Church polity.  The laity, not the clergy, would chart the path for the Church.  This was true in most Reformed and Evangelical Churches—the clergy could persuade and encourage in their preaching, but decisions of Church polity were ultimately in the hands of the laity.  In England from the time of Elizabeth I onwards, Parliament would make decisions regarding Church polity.  Even the Queen had to concede certain points of theology and practice to the anti-clerical parties (The Puritan faction) in Parliament in regard to the approval of the Book of Common Prayer that was issued in her reign.  The bishops had a voice, but they did not have final word and into the twentieth century you had a predominately lay body, Parliament, not all of whom by any means were Anglican, making decisions about worship and other matters internal to the Church of England.  
We have gotten somewhat ahead of ourselves here.  Let’s get back to the period of history immediately before the various Protestant Reformations.  We had spoken some time back about John Wycliffe (see entries for April 27th and 28th 2011).   Wycliffe’s followers in England were very distrustful of the clergy.  Wycliffe, though himself a priest and holder of several fairly lucrative benefices, had preached against clerical wealth and privilege.  It was at this same time the Geoffrey Chaucer in England and Giovanni Bocaccio in Italy had drawn scathing portraits of the clergy in their varied literary works.  Friars were seen to be greedy and womanizers; monks, fat and lazy sodomites.   The secular clergy were seen as nickel and diming people with fees for every imaginable service they rendered.  How truthful were these caricatures?   Well, there were good monks and friars and priests, but the caricatures would not have worked in the various poems and narratives if there had not been some truth to them.  It was a time marked by some strong reform movements in the religious orders, but also by religious who refused to embrace the necessary reforms.  In other words, like today, you had good priests and not-so-good priests. 
Celibacy then, as today, is a tricky issue to speak of.  Popular mythology often points the medieval clergy as satyrs, totally ignoring the demands of celibacy.  The fact of the matter is that the secular clergy were pretty much ignoring celibacy, but they were not necessarily promiscuous.  Church law from the eleventh century onwards had forbidden the clergy to marry.  This was mostly a matter of preventing Church property from passing out of Church ownership to the heirs of the priest.  Children, by law, had rights of inheritance only if they were legitimate.  Prohibiting the clergy to marry rendered the children illegitimate and prevented them from suing for a share in their father’s estate.  Church properties were preserved for the Church.  The celibacy legislation worked fairly well in despoiling children and widows of their claims but despite the law of the Church, many priests continued to marry and have children.  The marriages were not usually solemnized—i.e. “blessed” in Church—but neither were many medieval marriages, especially among the more common folk.  What we call “common-law” marriages were taken much more for granted in the Middle Ages, especially among the peasantry and the working classes.  Weddings were mostly for the nobility and, after the twelfth century, the bourgeoisie.  Many priests lived in a stable relationship with one woman, having children by her and raising their children together.  This would have been especially common in both rural areas and on the fringes of European society—Scandinavia, Scotland, Ireland, where priesthood was often a part-time occupation combined with farming and where the collaborative work of family life was almost a requisite for survival.   This is not to gloss over clerical sexuality.  Clerical concubinage (a prelate, priest, or major cleric having a mistress), as differentiated from such common-law relationships, was by no means unknown in the cities and towns and among the hierarchy.  The stability of these relationships varied from the same sort of common-law marriages of rural clergy to the successive monogamy of a series of mistresses.  And, of course, there were those among the clergy and hierarchy, as there are in every place and time and profession—promiscuous swine to take whatever opportunity presents itself for sexual gratification.   Popes were rarely in a position to clean up this mess as more than a few were sexually active themselves. 
All this is simply a way of making clear that there was not much to admire in the clerical state.  There were fine priests of course; priests beloved and admired by their congregants for their devotion and pastoral service.  Then too there were priests admired and loved by their parishioners who had common-law wives and children and whose parishioners did not see anything wrong with that.  There were priests who were celibate and who were loved and admired by their parishioners.  And there were priests who were celibate but whose parishioners disdained them, even hated them, because while celibate they still begrudged their congregants good pastoral care. 
It was common practice for priests to hold lucrative posts called benefices.  The benefice might be the pastorate of a wealthy church that paid a hefty salary.  The benefice might be a position at the Cathedral.  The benefice might be the chaplaincy at a hospital or a school.  When the salary was sufficiently high, or the priest held several high-income benefices at the same time, he might pay out of his salary a “vicar” to do the actual work.  Priests might often live in a degree of luxury, a high degree of luxury, and do little or no work.  None of this helped clerical reputation and by the early sixteenth century clergy were often held in contempt.
The Church in the Middle Ages had become incredibly wealthy.  Over the centuries immense amounts of land had been left in wills and bequests to monasteries, parish churches, cathedral chapters, schools, and other religious institutions.  Unlike family lands which were always being both added to and divided by dowries and divisions among heirs, (and bequests to churches), the Church did not pay dowries nor did it leave lands by bequest to others.  Thus the Church and its various institutions only increased in wealth and property.  It was always the receiver, never the giver.  Of course, it did pay salaries, and not only to clergy but to vast numbers of servants and workers required to maintain the various institutions.  It also spent huge sums hiring stonemasons, carpenters, glaziers, smiths and others in the vast construction projects of the Middle Ages.  It made heavy purchases in everything from beer, wine, food, and clothing for its clergy and employees to silks, gold and silver and jewels, organs, incense and other requirements for services.  In other words, the Church was a vital part of the economy.  In addition to its lands and the revenues its properties generated in rents and leases, the Church depended on the non-voluntary contributions called tithes of everyone from small tenant-farmers to powerful merchants.  It was required by Church law and enforced by the civil officials called reeves that the Church got ten percent of your income.  As the Church grew richer—in some places owning up to a third of the land in a kingdom—and more opulent in its display of wealth, many—especially in the merchant class—began to resent that they had to pay these tithes when the Church seemed to be so wealthy.  With the rise of the urban business classes, people began wanting to reinvest their spare capital in order to make more money yet.  They were not happy in seeing their hard earned money going to an institution that seemed to have so much already.     
Another reason for the lack of respect of the clergy is that in the early and central Middle Ages, that is from the eighth through the thirteenth centuries, the priest was most often among the best educated, or even in some places, the only educated person, in the town or village.  Even where the priest was no more educated than the peasants he served, his guardianship of the Sacred and his control of the Rites was seen as giving him a quasi-magical power.  But from the twelfth century on, with the economic revolution in Europe that created a strong and vibrant middle class, the educational level in European society rose fast.  Laity began to read and study—and develop areas of expertise such as law and economics.  Educationally the clergy began to meet their peers among their congregants.  Even in the rural areas reason began to replace superstition and magic.  No longer did the word of the priest have authority simply because he was a priest.  His words were weighed for their value as they corresponded to the knowledge and insight of his listeners.  An individual priest might be respected for his intelligence and wisdom but by no means was such respect automatic; much less would respect be given simply because a person was a priest.  In fact, people did not hesitate to question the opinion of a priest and counter with their own insights from their experience and from common sense.   It was a new age and not all the clergy recognized that their control over the faithful had eroded.   

Monday, May 16, 2011

Roots of the Reformation XIII: Clericalism, Cardinal Law and the Fall of the Church

We need to ask ourselves if this is the model
 of Church that will advance evangelization
in the 21st century
I want to stress that this blog is not oriented to Catholic doctrine or theology but is a historical commentary.  Historical commentary involves using the lessons of history to interpret present phenomenon.   History is not about the past.  Those who are interested in the past for its own sake or out of curiosity are antiquarians.  History studies and analyzes the past as a tool to understand the present and the options the future presents to us. 
This will be my final warning about the dangers of the clerical culture that is undermining the health of the Church today, though in several upcoming entries I will treat of anti-clericalism in the sixteenth century and how it opened the door to mass defections from the Catholic Church to the Protestant Reformers.  And it is that reason—the effect that clericalism and the reaction to it, anticlericalism, have on the unity of the Church—why I have spent so much time on the problems of clerical culture in the contemporary Catholic Church in North America and the English speaking world.  The abuse of priestly authority is creating a very dangerous situation as respect for the priesthood falls fast, and as priests alienate the faithful by clinging to the artificiality of a clerical identity and role in a Church and society that is moving beyond hierarchical models. 
It is the clerical mentality that has steered the Catholic Church in the United States—among various nations—on such a disastrous and ill-advised path by which it attempted to “handle” the sex-abuse crisis instead of meeting it with transparency and dialogue.  If one person is to be blamed—and of course it is never the fault of a single individual—but historically, if there is one person who touched the match to the fuse, it is Bernard Law, the former Cardinal-Archbishop of Boston.  His Eminence’s arrogance when confronted by the misdeeds of some of his clergy enraged not only the people of Boston but people—Catholic and non-Catholic alike—across the United States and that anger spread like wildfire from diocese to diocese.  It has continued to spread beyond the United States and has now become a serious issue in many European countries.  The Cardinal was so convinced of the inviolability of the Church and his personal rank that he foolishly thought he was answerable to neither the civil and criminal law nor to public opinion.  No one today, no one, not even the Pope himself, is above being judged by public opinion.  There was a time when the Church declared that no one was suited to sit in judgment of the Roman Pontiff, but those days are over.  Fit or not, Catholics and non-Catholics alike will not be deprived of their opportunity to critique.  We can claim the Church and its prelates are above such judgment; we can protest it; we can even dismiss it, but in the end we had better wake up and smell the coffee. The great unwashed sits in judgment on the Prince of the Apostles and all his little violet-clad princelings and passes judgment.  The Court of heaven may ignore earthly judgments, but the Church, as a visible and historical presence must realize that its day of being a law unto itself is over.  King Louis is dead and millions of Madames deFarge are knitting away as the mitered heads are tumbreled to the guillotine of public opinion.  And it is public opinion, not the rights and privileges of the past, that will determine the fate of the Church in society.   The sooner that the clergy realize that the day of privilege and unearned respect is over the sooner we, as Church, can get on with our mission. 
Anti-clericalism is a very important monitor of danger for the Church.  Distrust of or discontent with the clergy undermines the Church as an institution and alienates people from the practice of the faith.       
In the opening session of the Second Vatican Council, Bishop Emile DeSmedt of Bruges, Belgium, said that the Church had to renounce the “Clericalism, Triumphalism, and Juridicism” of past centuries.  The late Cardinal Avery Dulles expanded on this quite a bit in his book The Catholicity of the Church. We need to listen to these contemporary prophets.  The clerical culture that Archbishop Martin and Bishop Cupich denounced (see blog entries for May 10, 13, and 15 ) is a cancer in the Church that is devouring the very heart of the Gospel from within the Body of Christ.  This does not mean that priests should not wear clerical garb or that titles of respect need to be abandoned.  It does mean that priests or bishops who need such trappings to know who they are and what their mission is need to be removed from ministry until they get the help they need to be healthy functioning adults capable of working collaboratively in a Church that recognizes the maturity and giftedness of each individual not in light of what sacraments they have received but according to the charisms with which the Holy Spirit has endowed them.  We need to see that just as Church structures evolved and changed over the centuries to empower the Church—the entire Body of Christ—to achieve its mission, so too today the Church is changing and evolving to keep pace with the saving work God has called it to in today’s world.  To live is to change, declared Cardinal Newman, and to be perfect is to have changed often.  

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Roots of the Reformation XII: Clericalism—The Paving Stones of the Road to Reformation

Cardinal Dulles suggested that the Servant Model of Church
is the model for the next millenium.  Here a Franciscan friar
speaks with one of the homeless people near St. Francis
Church in New York City. St. Francis Friary was the home of
Father Mychal  Judge, OFM, the NYFD chaplain, the first
registered death of the 9/11 tragedy
 Clericalism leads to-and in turn falls victim to—one of the great Catholic heresies which is to confuse the Church with its Lord.  This is complicated by the Catholic tendency to limit, at least in practical understanding, the Church to its Institutional manifestation.  When Catholics say “The Church…” they tend to mean the hierarchical institution which externally governs the Church, but the Church itself is a far more complex, indeed mysterious, phenomenon.  When I say mysterious, I don’t mean puzzling but rather sacred, indeed numinous, reality.  The late Avery Dulles in his 1974 book  Models of the Church spoke of five key models by which the Church can be understood.  The first on he mentioned—and which he thought was grossly overused—is the institutional model.   This is the model in which am emphasis is place on hierarchy, magisterium, canon law, juridical authority, etc.  Oh, and clericalism!  How could I forget.  And it is this institutional model that most people mean when they talk about “the Church.”
Cardinal Dulles wrote that the Church is not only, or even fundamentally, an institution but it also has a sacramental character.  That is to say that the Church is a visible representation of the Invisible (to the human eye) Master who himself is the fundamental sacrament of God.  In other words, Jesus, the Church’s Lord, is himself the visible representation of the Invisible God and the Church, as the visible representation (re-presentation) of Christ, is a sign and means of God’s Grace in the world.  Moreover, the Church is also kerygmatic—that is to say the Church has a Divinely ordered mission to proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, the ongoing message of its Founder and Lord.  Dulles also calls the Church a communio—a covenantal bonding of the faithful into the One Body of Christ.  The Church is truly the physical Body of the Risen Christ—as truly (though obviously in a different mode) as is the Eucharist the physical Body of the Risen Christ.  Indeed the Catholic Tradition as found in Saint Augustine witnesses to the intrinsic unity between the Eucharistic Body and the Ecclesial Body of the Lord.  As Christ is one, the Eucharistic Body and the Ecclesial Body are one and the same, and it can be said that in certain respects each derives its authenticity as the Body of the Lord from the other.  Finally, the Church—and according to Dulles this may be the key model of Church for the next millennium—is Servant. 
  
Cardinal Burke, center, one of the prelates who represent 
the Institutional Model of Church.  Cardinal Burke has not
lately been seen speaking with the homeless outside
Gamarelli's--the Rome tailor shop specializing in retro
prelatial garb. 
Many people, especially those who hold positions of pompous power (Cardinals Burke, Pell, Castrillon Hoyos, and others who like parading around the world in cappae magnae) or even those who have powerless pomp (monsignors, the pezzi grossi of the Vatican Bureaucracy, members of the Institute of Christ the Sovereign Priest) are having difficulty letting go of the institutional model and embracing the servant model.  Can’t say I blame them; washing the feet of disciples is dirty work; it’s much more fun to be bundled up in silk and fur, though I don’t think of that as a “guy thing.”  But the Servant Model is the model that can restore credibility to a Church that has squandered its moral leadership in these last three decades.   Ah, but the gift of hope tells us that someday soon (and very soon) the Gospel will prevail once more over Gamarelli’s catalogue. (Gamarelli is the “tailor to the popes” and papal wanna-be’s.  See blog entry of March 28th 2011 for photo of Gamarelli’s window.)   But this is the problem with clericalism –it derives its energy from the institution of the Church and the power the institution has rather than deriving its authority from the Gospel and the authority the Gospel confers. 
It is frightening how much of the negative energy that “former Catholics” have towards the Church is rooted in clericalism.  I first noticed this about thirty years ago in Ireland where my relatives—all (at the time) Church-going Catholics—spoke venomously of their Parish Priest because of what they perceived to be (and I think correctly) his abuse of power.  The power of an Irish Parish Priest was something to be contended with even thirty years ago—he had veto over the public school teachers and administrators as well as many other decisions that technically pertained to local government.  Over the years the antagonism toward the clergy in general seems only to have increased.  This is not to say that many individual priests are not very popular with their parishioners.  Those priests who mix easily with the people, sit in the pub, go to the cattle shows, and visit the homes of the parishioners without expecting the best china and fancy tea cakes are well liked.  Let a priest put on airs, however, and the most devout Irish Catholics become passive aggressive in ways only the Irish can; while many more avoid confrontation and simply walk away from the Church and decided that  a “long lie” in bed on Sunday morning will do them as well as a sermon. 
The anti-clericialism in the United States manifests itself differently but is growing even faster.  The main reason that we have so few vocations today is due, primarily I believe, to the fact that the priesthood is no longer a respectable profession.  This is not due only to the sex-abuse crisis; in fact I believe there are other even deeper roots of the decline in respect for priests today.  Compared to the parishioners, the priest is no longer better educated—and indeed in suburban or wealthy city parishes, is often less educated than most of the people in the pews.  When he speaks, the priest speaks more of what he learned from books than what he has learned from life—his own and his parishioners.  He often seems hopelessly out of touch, indeed at times from another planet.  Poor preaching, that is to say, irrelevant prattling from the pulpit, is probably the number one reason Mass attendance is falling in the United States.  It is absolutely embarrassing to listen when a priest makes a fool of himself speaking of things about which he knows nothing or when he expects his educated parishioners believe pious stories of saints who fly through the air, hosts that bleed, or decapitated bishops who continue to preach as they carry their head to the cemetery.  Legends and myths have their place, but it is not in the pulpit.  On the other hand when there is sound scriptural preaching that reinforces doctrine and can be related to everyday life, people find a comfort and credibility in their pastors. 
The key to good pastoral personality, like the key to all deep spirituality, is self-knowledge.  By self-knowledge I mean that one, cleric or lay, needs to know oneself not for one’s role or for whatever sacraments one has received but to know oneself in the unfathomable sea of sin and grace.   One has to strip away all pretense, all external trappings, all peripheral roles and deal with one’s own self naked in God’s eyes and naked in one’s own.  One has to see all the warts and wrinkles and cellulite and discern who we might have been had it not been for our sinfulness, who we truly are, and who we might be yet in the sight of God and by his grace.  And there is nothing more foreign to the clerical psyche as the courage it takes to abandon—totally abandon—role and be naked for who one is and nothing more in the sight of God and one’s own sight.  This is why diocesan priests so rarely make good spiritual directors for the spiritual life does not begin until one has so confronted one’s truest self and has been sufficiently humbled to throw oneself on the Divine Mercy, pleading for grace.  Once you have done that you find it very difficult to piously parade around in birettas and surplices that look like they come from Victoria’s Secret.   Once you have stood naked before God and in your own eyes, you need not title, no robe, no ring or fancy hat.  You know who you are and you can be who God wants you to be for others.  How rich a Church we would be if more of our clergy did that and fewer were seduced by rank and privilege. 

Friday, May 13, 2011

Roots of the Reformation X: More Danger Signs of Future Reformations

well he looks like a nice kid
let's just hope its halloween
Well in the last posting I said I would write about the clerical culture in this entry.  As I had mentioned yesterday, at a conference on the sex abuse crisis at Marquette University in Milwuakee Archbishop Diarimud Martin of Dublin and Bishop Blase Cupich of Spokane had spoken about the negative impact that a “clerical culture” has had on the Church and it is a point well worth investigating.
Just this morning I ran into a friend of mine in the library who has spent years as a seminary professor, who is a member of a religious community that has houses throughout the United States, and who has published extensively on the situation of the American Church.  In an exchange of stories and reflections, she described Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington as “a persona.”  I asked her what she meant.  She has known the Archbishop since his days in Seattle when he was sent to “axe” Archbishop Hunthausen who had fallen into the grave disfavor of the Reagan administration which in turn had implored the Holy See to remove him.  (The immediate conflict with the White House was the Archbishop’s outspoken opposition to Reagan’s Nuclear Weapons policy and his dramatic threat that he would default on his Federal Income Tax as a witness to the immorality of the Reagan policy.)  The Holy See did not removed him, of course, but as the revised ostpolitik of John Paul required collaboration with the White House in their joint (and successful) effort to topple Marxism in Eastern Europe, Hunthausen’s credibility as a spokesperson for Catholic moral principles was seriously undermined.  Archbishop (later Cardinal) Hickey of Washington DC was appointed by Rome as “Apostolic Visitator” of the Seattle Archdiocese to investigate Hunthausen’s administration of the Archdiocese.   When the visitation was concluded Donald Wuerl was appointed as auxiliary bishop and assigned by Rome to many of the duties and responsibilities of the Archbishop, relieving him of much of his authority.  This was a public sign that Rome lacked confidence in Hunthausen and undermined his credibility in the eyes of those who believe moral authority is in the gift of the Holy See.  Fortunately many American Catholics know that while power is in the gift of the Holy See, Authority, at least in the New Testament sense, is a charism that is only able to be bestowed by the Holy Spirit and respect for Hunthausen only grew.  Donald Wuerl, for his part, went on to become first bishop of Pittsburgh and now is the Cardinal Archbishop of Washington D.C.—where, by the way, he seems to be doing a very credible job.  He had to fill Cardinal McCarrick’s buskins and that was no easy task, but Wuerl is well thought of and capable by the Washington faithful.  But I am digressing. 
This Sister friend of mine referred to Cardinal Wuerl as a “persona.”  What is a persona?   A persona is a role, a stereotype, a well defined public identity.  Cardinal Wuerl, she implied, was always just that—His Eminence, Donald, Cardinal Wuerl.  There is no “Don” inside the His Eminence, Donald, Cardinal Wuerl.  There is only the six-hundred dollar black suit, the clerical vest over the white-shirt with cufflinks and pontiff collar, the perfectly shined black shoes and black over-the-calf men’s stockings.  Inside there is a ghostly shadow of what could have been a human being.   Everything this spectre does is exactly what a Cardinal should do.  At night, his secretary removes his battery for charging, rolls him into a closet, and turns out light.  We should pity people who are personae (plural of persona for you Latin lovers).   What profiteth a man should he gain the whole world and lose his soul in the process?
Let me say again, from what I hear from Washington Catholics—clergy and laity alike—they are well enough satisfied with the Cardinal as their Archbishop.  He is not a bad man in any sense, just an empty sort of cardboard man.  He is a man who has allowed himself to be defined not by grace but by the Institution to which he is sincerely devoted.  Alas, His Eminence is not the only persona in the Church.  The hierarchy is filled with them.  These days being an empty cassock is almost a requirement, at least in the United States,  for Episcopal Ordination (what we used to refer to as Consecration of a Bishop, not ordination in the Episcopal Church). 
Twenty years ago Father George Aschenbrenner, the famous Jesuit author and Spiritual Director, gave a day of recollection at the Pontifical North American College.  It was his swansong at that institution.  I don’t know if it was his swansong because of the talk he gave or, knowing he was leaving, he decided to “go for the gold.”  Now I was not there for Father Aschenbrenner’s talk.  I was living in Rome at the time and the talk was a sensation in the city when word got out.  As it was reported in a hundred cafes and several hundred seminary and monastery dining halls, Father Aschenbrener said that the biggest problem in the North American Church was clericalism and the reason for clericalism was psycho-sexual immaturity of so many of the clergy.  What does that mean? 
When individuals do not come to terms with who they are on the deeper levels of their own psyche, they need to find or to create an identity for themselves.  When people do not know who they are, they need to “invent” an identity.  The clergy offers one a ready-made identity (or persona) in place of the identity in which one has grown up.  The clergy offers a sharply defined “ready to wear” life style that will tell the world who you are.  You are “Father.”  You wear black with a little white collar.  You drive a somewhat anonymous looking car in a dull color—black or gunmetal if you have aspirations to higher posts.  You say prayers—both privately and publicly.     You can play golf.  You can’t play softball, football, or go horseback riding. Until you are 35 you can play the occasional pick-up game of basketball, however.  You drink Scotch.  If you drink beer, it must be from a glass (except after a pick-up game of basketball and you are under 35).  You drink wine with your dinner but it is too effeminate at other times and you don’t want to do anything effeminate, never! Never! Never!  Unless, of course, you are putting on one of lacy negligee style surplices or albs. 
And this is the problem.  You never get to know who you are.  You are a priest, first and foremost.  There is nothing else about you that is important.  You conform yourself to the model of “priest.”  And why is this bad?  Mostly because it is dangerous.  You are a powder keg that could explode at any moment because you, yourself, the safety-guard of your anger, your ambition, your sexual desires, your greed, your sloth, whatever else are components of each and every human person—you don’t know yourself well enough to know not only what your are capable of but what your hidden agendas are.  You only know the parts of your soul (your psyche) that fit the clerical persona, and those areas which can be problematic: you live in denial. 
I have seen this lack of authentic self-knowledge in far too many priests.  One moment Father is walking up and down in his cassock and biretta saying his office and the next he is slugging the deacon, or fondling some kid, or passed out drunk on the rectory floor.    Catholic Tradition says that grace builds on nature.  Priestly ministry and identity must be rooted in the individual and proceed from within his innermost core.  It cannot be something that the priest puts on—like his cassock or his vestments.  We have too many empty cassocks walking around—and frightenly a disproportionately high number of them are purple.  We need people to serve in the priesthood who know who they are and are comfortable with whom they are.  We need people who have successful and happy peer relationships with a wide variety of people—not only other clergy but men and women of a variety of ages, economic status, and (very importantly) religious beliefs and disbeliefs.  The clergy must be no refuge for people who suffer from arrested emotional development.  It is a recipe for disaster as we have seen these past twenty years.