Another cause of the decadence of sacred music is clericalism, the abuse of clerical position and status. Clergy who are often poorly educated in the great tradition of sacred music continue to make decisions about personnel and policies that contravene the authentic spirit of the liturgy and the renewal of sacred music repeatedly called for in our times.
Priest/pastors are the bosses by design. Some handle this well. Others less so. A lack of formation is not an indicator of clericalism. At worst, one can label it ignorance. Ultimately, bishops oversee the seminary and ongoing formation of their priests. Liturgy is sometimes a priority in formation of clergy. Music certainly less so.
That priests make poor decisions about anything: music, liturgy, personnel, finances, their personal spirituality, or what-have-you isn’t necessarily a problem of clericalism.
Often they contradict Vatican II teachings in the name of a supposed “spirit of the Council.”
Lots of people misunderstand Vatican II and its follow-up documents. Again, it’s not a defining point of clericalism. And I see and read much from traditional-minded Catholics that contradict Vatican II.
Moreover, especially in countries of ancient Christian heritage, members of the clergy have access to positions that are not available to laity, when there are lay musicians fully capable of offering an equal or superior professional service to the Church.
It’s difficult to argue against what the musicians present here as a matter of discernment. Who is best able to serve as a leader in parish music ministry? Rarely would it be a priest. The Catholic Church continues to struggle with expecting its clergy to cover all the Pauline apostolic gifts: administration, prophecy, teaching, intercessory prayer, and often more. Sure, the occasional gifted person may well be able to lead in multiple roles. But does such a system do justice to individuals who might be extremely gifted in a few, or one? And be able to delegate and administer and unite a ministry effort as a collective endeavor?
What’s your assessment of the diagnosis of clericalism? hit or miss for the musicians?
The full document may be found here.