CDCN: Clericalism

The fifth point on the statement Cantate Domino Canticum Novum‘s assessment of the “current situation” deals with clericalism. I found this point to be somewhat confused, as the charge is laid:

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.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in Cantate Domino Canticum Novum, Liturgical Music. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to CDCN: Clericalism

  1. I agree with the theory that early in church history the hierarchy departed from being advised (submitting to) a maternal (female) line of monarchy on everything from interpretation of dogma and it’s implementation, and prevention of clerical control of things they know nothing about – to prevention of child abuse. The feminine monarch was supposed to represent the Virgin Mary in guidance (think Queen Isabella.) Corrupt prelates reversed the flow, much as traddie clerics teach their male parishioners to dominate, rather than be guided by, and serve, their wives and family.

    I like this theory because archeological discoveries regarding for the the Knights Templar suggest the silent church builders, the masons, may have protected this line in hiding.

    But as for clericalism – isn’t the fact that a priest has final say over liturgical music an EXAMPLE of the heresy of clericalism wrongly woven into the fabric of the church? Who said they have any authority in this regard? It smacks of the heresy that the man leads in “teaching” in families when the opposite is true. The woman leads in wisdom whereas the man leads in self sacrifice.

    • Sorry about the typos above. (On iPhone.)

      People think canon law arbitrates heresy; where in reality, like any broken system, it can be the implementation of heresy within the very structure of the church.

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