Pope Francis on Laity

…You’ll never guess what… Since writing the last post, I read this from Pope Francis:

“We priests tend to clericalize the laity. We do not realize it, but it is as if we infect them with our own disease. And the laity — not all, but many — ask us on their knees to clericalize them, because it is more comfortable to be an altar server than the protagonist of a lay path. We cannot fall into that trap — it is a sinful complicity.”


About transformedinchrist

I live in Southsea and work for the Diocese of Portsmouth. My first love is for catechesis and evangelisation: until January 2013, I worked for a busy, thriving parish in south London coordinating the catechesis - sacramental programmes and adult formation. In November 2013, I completed my MA in catechetics at Maryvale Institute, Birmingham. View all posts by transformedinchrist

6 responses to “Pope Francis on Laity

  • Kimberly Rode

    Of One Heart and One Mind! Beautiful!

  • Paul Rodden

    I’d love to study catechetics at Maryvale as I’d learn so from such great teachers like Petroc Willey and meet with really inspirational catechists – except the Holy Father’s dead right.

    It’s what’s always prevented me from becoming a ‘professional’ anything in the Church because it would change the dynamics of my relationship with my fellow layfolk. Several times over the past 3 years I’ve printed out that application on the Maryvale website! But then, I remember my friends are so alienated as it is by that rampant clericalist mentality which has been absorbed by osmosis in the pews for decades.

    I believe they ought to have confidence that they can be true disciples without becoming ‘experts’, and that’s what I try to encourage by not being one myself. I really like the fact that they challenge me because I’m a ‘nobody’ rather than an expert or ‘official parish catechist’. Whereas, they don’t feel they can talk to the official catechists (read ‘School teachers who talk down to me as if I am back at school, despite being an adult’, as someone put it).

    The problem is, I can’t set up a structured catechetical course for toffee (I’ve tried!). It seems utterly overwhelming as I’m not naturally systematic, yet I love sharing my faith and helping them grow where the tyre hits the road – and so I’m still really torn.
    Become a proper catechist or not? But, if I do, am merely I reinforcing the idea that you have to take the ‘clericalist’ route to be a ‘proper’ lay person?

    • transformedinchrist

      Hi Paul. I don’t think we need to wear it on our sleeve that ‘I’m studying Catholic theology’… it’s something that we can do in a ‘hidden’ way that we don’t need to share with people who won’t understand (or even with those who would!), but do it simply because it forms us. In my experience a Maryvale degree leads to people living their vocation in the world more faithfully – I am amazed, for example, at the variety of professional backgrounds there are among my MA class (about forty people).
      And I note and agree with you on many of your other points in the second comment. Don’t worry, not offended at all 😉

  • claireasdaisies

    You’re a Prophet, Hannah 😉 the Holy Spirit is working wonders in you! God bless your work, Cx

  • Paul Rodden

    Just wanted to apologise about my last comment.

    It was meant to be mildly ‘controversial’, but not an attack on what you’re doing, but I realised it could be read as such after posting it. Sorry.

    As an aside, if you find any of what I post ‘too much’ (long/ranting) just ignore it – or post and disagree 🙂 – I’m a big boy, so I won’t flounce off!

    I think you’re right studying at Maryvale because the person you are – or becoming – is integrated with what you’re learning. It’s being ‘earthed’. In short, you’re heart is converted.
    Whereas, in my experience, so many go on courses, then become ‘a breed apart’ because they haven’t got the personal maturity/formation, including Permanent Deacons and even Priests. (Yes, even a few of the apparently squeaky-clean ‘orthodox’ ones coming out of the English College! * ).

    So, I don’t think problems with the laity are being driven by clericalism these days in England (although clericalism is an issue and might be on the rise), as much as dysfunctional lay people (esp. control freaks) who, anywhere else, would be told where to get off, yet aren’t, because we’re meant to be ‘nice’ (with a large dollop of false humility).

    These people end up being bossy, if not downright bullies, because they’re allowed to rule the roost, unfettered (dare I say they’re mostly school teachers?). That said, I think the new ‘pulse’ Pope Francis has got his finger on, are ecclesial pathologies within Catholicism and addressing them is at at the heart of his agenda.

    I believe what’s taking place now in congregations here, in England, is simply the lay-equivalent of/replacement for clericalism. The clergy have effectively renounced (they’d say ‘delegated’) their responsibility over the past 50 years in their misguided attempts to democratise/Protestantise it, and allowed people to do as they like, so ‘the loud-mouths’ have naturally floated to the top. But what we need to be careful of is a * Clericalist backlash.

    This lay-driven pathology is just as toxic to real discipleship as clericalism, as it’s the same dysfunction driving the show in both. The difference is the enemy of the laity is currently within its ranks and it’s causing a paralysis and lack of confidence in the meek just as effectively as the clericalism of yesteryear.

    Anyway, rant over. 🙂
    I’m grateful for what you do, and this blog keeps me sane. Thank you.

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